Published on January 18, 2022

Mass Audubon Protects 16 Acres of Undeveloped Forest in Princeton, MA

Stone wall separating Holder property (left) from Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary (right)

A double stone wall sits between the new
16-acre property (L) & Wachusett Meadow (R)

Mass Audubon recently protected 16 acres in Princeton, an important parcel that sits at the entrance to Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary and runs alongside one of the sanctuary's trails.

For decades, this property has been an uninhabited forest. Given its location and its conservation values, it has been on our radar to protect for years.

In addition to preventing new developments from impacting the views from Wachusett Meadow's trails, these acres provide a home to wildlife. Now they are part of a connected, conserved landscape of over 4,000 acres that includes Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, and Wachusett Reservoir Watershed. The property is also located within a state-designated Outstanding Resource Water area, a prominent source of Boston’s drinking water supply.

"After many years working with neighbors of Wachusett Meadow, the stars finally aligned for the acquisition of this parcel, which was a long-term land protection priority," says Kate Buttolph, a Land Protection Specialist at Mass Audubon. "We are so grateful to the landowner and our partners for helping to achieve our goals."

Thanks to the innovative Massachusetts Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program, the landowner will receive a tax credit for selling the property to Mass Audubon below its appraised fair-market value. In cases like this where Mass Audubon is purchasing the fee interest, CLTC requires that a separate conservation organization hold a Conservation Restriction (CR) on the property. This is sometimes referred to as "belt and suspenders" conservation. Mass Audubon asked longtime partner the Princeton Land Trust to be the holder of the CR and they agreed.

The acquisition of this parcel is a great example of how Mass Audubon will achieve its ambitious Resilient Land goals in the Action Agenda at a local level and by working with partners.