Conserving & Protecting Land
Mass Audubon actively protects over 40,000 acres in Massachusetts.
Land conservation is critically important not only to the survival of native wildlife and plants, but also for the health and wellbeing of the people who live, work, and play in Massachusetts. It's also one of the most effective, proven strategies when it comes to mitigating the increasing impacts of climate change.
We've been protecting wild places across the state for more than a century using our science-based land conservation strategy.
Urgent Land Projects
Mass Audubon is poised to purchase 166 acres of rich forest and wetlands that are part of the headwaters for the Millers River in Ashburnham. However, we need to raise $161,000 by November 1, 2023 to make it happen.
Mass Audubon, Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, and Mill City Grows, in collaboration with the City of Lowell, have reached an agreement with the Perron family to purchase and protect what is currently called Rollie’s Farm.
Land Conservation Strategy
When deciding what land to protect, we consider the presence of rare and endangered species, climate resilience attributes, proximity to existing protected land, and number of acres. We prioritize parcels based on the combined characteristics. With limited resources, it is essential to spend them where they will have the most impact.
Ways of Protecting Land
We protect land by working in partnership with landowners, other conservation organizations, government agencies, foundations, and individual donors. Mass Audubon’s role in the process is varied, but generally falls into one of three categories:
- Providing assistance to other conservation organizations.
- Acquire property and add it to an existing wildlife sanctuary or create a new one.
- Secure and hold a permanent Conservation Restriction on a property owned by others.
The first step is engaging landowners of high priority parcels in a conversation about their land and how we might be able to protect it.
Conserve Your Land
Decisions you make as a landowner can have long-lasting effects on the Massachusetts landscape that future generations will inherit, and on the wildlife that share this landscape with us. Not only will conserved land benefit people and wildlife, but it also offers the landowners tax advantages.
There are many ways to permanently protect your land, including a donation or sale of the ownership of the land, or of a perpetual conservation restriction (easement).
Donate or Sell
By donating or selling your land to Mass Audubon, your property will benefit wildlife and people. Conveying your land outright may be the simplest and best way to conserve it. Your gift or sale of land to Mass Audubon will help connect people with nature while freeing you of all responsibilities of ownership and management, including property taxes.
Landowners who donate or charitably discount the sale of their land for conservation may take advantage of several tax benefits, including reductions in federal income tax and reductions in estate tax, to name a few.
Conservation restrictions (CRs), also known as conservation easements, are legally binding agreements that permanently protect certain conservation values of a property while allowing the land to remain in private ownership.
They are conveyed to a non-profit conservation organization or public conservation entity, which accepts the right and responsibility to monitor the property and defend and enforce the terms of the CR in perpetuity. CRs are placed on record at the Registry of Deeds and run with the land, meaning that they apply to all future owners of the property.
CRs are a flexible tool, able to be customized to protect specific aspects of a given property, or to address particular needs of the owner. They usually involve the permanent extinguishment of some, but not necessarily all, of the development potential of the land, and can be gifted or sold. Properly crafted, CRs can generate significant tax benefits in the form of income tax deductions and estate or property tax reductions.
Are you interested in conserving your land? Please email us and we can help!
Recent Success Stories
This project area is a portion of a large, relatively intact forest block, which supports populations of wide-ranging species including bobcat, coyote, and white-tailed deer, as well as the Eastern box turtle, a species of special concern in Massachusetts.
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.
The recent protection of Bedrock Ledge, almost 300 acres in Becket, MA, brings us closer to achieving our goal of Protecting and Stewarding Resilient Landscapes as set out in our Action Agenda. It is a prime example of working with partners to protect the Commonwealth's most climate resilient and diverse habitats.
Mass Audubon recently partnered with Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust and 12 landowners to protect over 700 acres in the Greater Gales Brook Conservation Project.
Mass Audubon recently protected an important 16-acre parcel that sits at the entrance to Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary and runs alongside one of the sanctuary's trails.
On June 15, 2022, Mass Audubon completed the protection of roughly 110 acres of land and a critically important connection between our Whetstone Wood Wildlife Sanctuary (a large sanctuary protected for wildlife with little impact from people) and Wendell State Forest.
Don't miss a beat on all the ways you can get outdoors, celebrate nature, and get involved.