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Porcupine in a grassy field

Protecting "Porcupine Woods" near Mount Wachusett

April 05, 2023

Thanks to an amazing public-private partnership, 69 acres of prime wildlife habitat adjacent to Wachusett Mountain State Reservation and Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary are now permanently protected.

We named the property after a mutually startling encounter with one of our land protection specialists.  They had nearly bumped into each other in the thick underbrush, resulting in the porcupine climbing up a tree and our excited staff member making a valiant effort to get a good photo (no success).

Map of conservation area protected by Porcupine Woods

A Team Effort

Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) worked together to protect this property. The groups negotiated the purchase of the land for conservation together and split the $560,000 cost of purchasing the land. Mass Audubon now owns the land while DCR holds a perpetual conservation restriction (aka conservation easement).

A Home for Wildlife...

This property in particular is inhabited by all kinds of wildlife.  For example, we found tracks in the snow of bobcats, deer, mink, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, and of course, porcupines.

Porcupine in a grassy field

A well-established beaver colony also enjoys the extensive wetlands.  

As further evidence of the property’s high habitat value, it is mapped by the state Natural Heritage program as Priority Habitat for threatened and endangered bird and reptile species. Large portions of the site are designated as Core Habitat under the state’s BioMap program, the state’s primary habitat protection tool.  Mass Audubon’s own Sanctuary Protection plan also prioritized the parcel, flagging it as a “Critical” parcel in the context of Wachusett Meadow.

The property also forms part of the headwaters of South Wachusett Brook, which supplies drinking water to both the City of Worcester and the Boston metro area.  Protecting the headwaters of a public water supply helps immeasurably to keep drinking water clean and safe.

Gratitude and Thanks

Conservation of this vital habitat was made possible thanks to the landowner, Janet MacDonald, and her willingness to work with Mass Audubon and DCR to protect her beloved family property.

This  conservation project  was made possible thanks to funding from DCR’s Land Protection Program, MathWorks, and the many individuals who contributed to this effort, especially from the surrounding neighborhood.

Porcupine Woods is just one example of the type of collaborative conservation projects that we are working on. Mass Audubon remains grateful for all the partners we work with to conserve land—accomplishing more than any of us could on our own,

You can be an essential part of this work too – please consider making a gift to our land protection efforts.