Whetstone Wood Wildlife Sanctuary—located in Wendell, Orange, and New Salem—is Mass Audubon's largest wildlife sanctuary at almost 2,500 acres. And another 118 acres have been added, land that's home to high quality forest and vernal pools.
The property was offered to Mass Audubon for purchase by Wendell resident Marcelle Feltman, who lives just down the road, with the understanding that it would be conserved and become part of the Whetstone Wood Wildlife Sanctuary. The Feltman family loves living in Wendell and appreciates the wildness and unbroken nature of much of the forest there.
They are very pleased that Mass Audubon was able to purchase the property to protect it forever.
Marcelle and her husband Neal, who passed away in 2016, both attended UMASS Amherst. They moved to Wendell in 1974 and built a house. A forester and a teacher, the Feltmans eventually purchased an additional 136 acres, subdivided the property, and sold a few house lots along Jennison Road.
The outcome for this property strikes a healthy land use balance. The Town of Wendell continues to receive property tax revenue from the house lots, while the larger community and planet receives the more intangible benefits that conservation land provides.
This large conservation acreage in Wendell is a terrific example of the critically important role that strategic land conservation will play in climate change response—both now and in the important years ahead.
First, it provides corridors to help plants and animals move in order to find more comfortable locations as the impacts of climate change become more pronounced. Whetstone has grown to form a "bridge" of protected lands connecting literally tens of thousands of acres of existing conserved lands.
Second, the protection of the forested landscape benefits all of us by sequestering carbon, absorbing other greenhouse gases, cooling temperatures, and generating clean water and air.