Occasionally Mass Audubon comes across a property that is an inholding—that is, a property not owned by Mass Audubon that is virtually "within" one of our wildlife sanctuaries.
In this case, a staff person identified a seven-acre property with no road frontage between the Wachusett Regional High School and the Eagle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary in Holden, MA. What does Mass Audubon do in these circumstances?
The first step is to contact the owner and see if they might be interested in donating the land. The owner of this parcel was a real estate investment company and when we approached them about donating the land they said "Yes!" On December 10, 2019, that intention was realized when UMass Memorial Realty signed the deed to Mass Audubon.
Asked to comment on the gift, Renee Mikitarian-Bradley of UMass Memorial said, "We should all have a goal of leaving a space, a building, or a property in a better condition than on our first encounter. Mass Audubon has demonstrated for years its commitment to being responsible environmental stewards here and beyond. We think it is appropriate and fitting that this land is now in their hands."
With everything from large red oaks to extensive wetlands, Eagle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary supports a wealth of wildlife including fisher cats, deer, a variety of snakes, as well as hosting nesting sites for Scarlet Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.
The sanctuary was established in 1983 with a gift by Clifford and Hilda Appleton of 130 acres. It has almost tripled in size since then thanks to many generous donors. This newest addition gives Mass Audubon an opportunity to preserve an ecologically significant and locally popular natural area, as well as the potential to connect with established trails at Eagle Lake.
The boy’s and girl’s cross country running teams at the abutting neighbor to the east—Wachusett Regional High School—have used the property for many years to augment their running route, and agreements are in place for them to be able to continue that use. Wildlife will benefit, the runners will benefit, and our sanctuary is now more closely connected with the regional high school that abuts it.
"It's all good," as they say!