Two kids running in the snow. We all need nature—and nature needs you. Together, we can protect the wildlife and wild lands of Massachusetts for generations to come. Make a tax-deductible donation today.
Two kids running in the snow. We all need nature—and nature needs you. Together, we can protect the wildlife and wild lands of Massachusetts for generations to come. Make a tax-deductible donation today.
small trail through a forest
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

Meet Dave Rothstein, Land Protection Specialist at Arcadia

December 14, 2023

“No matter the size of the land, there are stories to be heard and stories to be told.” 

Dave Rothstein is a Mass Audubon Land Protection Specialist based out of Arcadia. This means he helps conserve habitats and special places in western Massachusetts. We sat down with Dave to learn more about his connection to the land and what makes his work so special. 

Dave Rothstein smiling and holding a double-ended paddle above his head
© Alix Kaplan, Connecticut River Conservancy

What excites you about your work?  

Most of my day-to-day work revolves around storytelling: that of landowners and their unique ties to their properties, their conservation ethic and sense of stewardship, and the particular circumstances that bring them to a place where our assistance is helpful. No matter the size of the land, there are stories to be heard and stories to be told. Allowing Mass Audubon an opportunity to tell these stories through education and interaction with the land makes my heart sing.  

How did you come to work at Mass Audubon?

I am Mass Audubon through and through; I spent my childhood exploring Wachusett Meadow Sanctuary and attending camp at Wildwood (now the Cooks Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary). It was a great gift to be offered the opportunity to work at Mass Audubon after decades of working as a wildlife biologist and environmental attorney. I moved to the Valley in 2005 while working as an attorney to be closer to my client at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I quickly fell in love with the area and its vibrant communities. 

What is your favorite Mass Audubon Trail?

Cook’s Canyon Trail which I often hiked as a kid at the Wildwood Camp, but it seems much shorter now that I am an adult.

What kind of bird do you think you would you be?

If I were a bird, I’d like to be a tree swallow because they are colorful, playful, agile, and fabulous parents. Tree swallows are close to my heart as they were the first bird species I studied as an ornithologist. 

How do partnerships inform your work?

I am a big fan of teamwork and partnership. Whether as an artist, a lawyer, a conservationist, I always find the synergy of collaboration to be both inspiring and amazing. A good example of this was recently setting the world record for paddling a giant pumpkin 40 miles through the Connecticut River watershed, which we all adore. It was not a personal record but a collective one shared with the communities that rallied around the event. I’m grateful to all who supported me on and off the water. Together, we brought attention to a resource that runs through us all.

Dave Rothstein in a homemade pumpkin raft
© Sarah Brittain

Dave is part of a team of land protection specialists working across the state to meet Mass Audubon’s bold and ambitious goal to work with public and private partners to collectively protect 100,000 biodiverse and carbon-rich acres by 2030.

Learn More About Mass Audubon’s Work to Conserve and Protect Land