Broad Hill Wildlife Sanctuary: A Big Addition for Metro West
On April 19, 2023, Mass Audubon accepted a gift of 185 acres of land in Holliston from Jim and Pat Poitras that will form the base of a new wildlife sanctuary called Broad Hill.
Metro West is one of the fastest growing and developing areas of the state. It is rare to find opportunities to create such large new addition to Mass Audubon’s sanctuary network. It is even rarer to find people who are so philanthropic that they are willing to give away such valuable land. Thanks to the generosity and careful planning over many years by the Poitras Family, Broad Hill is all those things.
Why This Land Matters
The 185 acres is comprised of a few large fields fronting on scenic Highland Street, as well as large areas of forest and a lovely perennial stream. The land connects multiple pieces of conservation land totaling nearly a thousand acres—an impressive accomplishment in this densely developed suburban landscape.
A Conservation Vision
The donation of Broad Hill is just one chapter of the story that chronicles the decades long partnership between Jim and Pat Poitras, Mass Audubon, and the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) to protect this special corner of the world.
The story began in 1975 when Jim bought his parent’s house and an initial 90 acres. Over time, Jim and Pat gradually purchased land in this area to prevent it from being developed. They did so with the goal of assembling a jigsaw puzzle of lands that also connected with other conserved properties.
“As a family, we all enjoyed the benefits and value of open space and never had an inclination to develop any of the property. It is our intent to leave this land for future generations in a relatively undeveloped state and to be managed under good agricultural and forestry practices,” said Jim Poitras. “When Pat and I started on these acquisitions, we had no idea of what our final plan would be for the land – just that we wanted to create a large section of open space in Holliston.”
Eventually, the couple began working with Mass Audubon and NEFF to permanently protect the land. Over the span of several decades, they donated perpetual conservation restrictions to Mass Audubon and NEFF, leading to this most recent gift of the ownership of the 185 acres that comprises the core of the property.
The result is the creation of a regionally significant conservation corridor that provides valuable wildlife habitat and opportunities for passive recreation across three communities.
Creating the Wildlife Sanctuary
While not yet open to the public, Mass Audubon will spend this year preparing the site for visitation and plans to welcome the public at some point next spring.
“It is a rare and wonderful thing when people like Jim and Pat Poitras display overwhelming generosity by choosing to protect our open lands in perpetuity for future generations,” said Mass Audubon President David O’Neill. “We deeply appreciate being entrusted as stewards of this land and look forward to eventually welcoming the public to enjoy its beauty and diverse habitats.”
This is not the last phase of the Poitras project. We look forward to continuing to work with the Poitras family to complete their extraordinary conservation vision.
Interested in learning more about our land conservation efforts? Read recent success stories and how you can get involved >