the trustees of reservations
On The Land
The Trustees of Reservations

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fly Like an Eagle

This photograph was taken from an airplane, and depicts... other airplanes!  The CR on this 40 acre property in southeastern MA preserves wildlife habitat for rare species, as well as water quality and soil protection on the property, but also contains a reserved right to continue use of the owner's grass airstrip! With close to 350 properties under CR across the state, there are some unusual activities that are allowed under the restrictions. As for explanations?

Every CR that we accept is the result of careful negotiations with the landowner, whether a private individual, another land trust, or a city or town.  And, since CRs are flexible documents, they can be adapted to protect the unique characteristics of each property.  A main goal of The Trustees' CR program is to protect the conservation values of our restricted properties, while staying reasonably flexible to the needs and uses that the owner envisions for their land.

It gets pretty interesting when we have to weigh and negotiate unique, pre-existing uses against the perpetual conservation values the land may hold.  Sometimes we are approached by landowners with a high-value conservation property who wish to set aside a portion of their land for an activity that may seem incompatible with land protection. If the overall conservation value of the property is high enough in terms of rare species, forest and habitat connectivity, water supply protection, or other factors, we just may accept the CR.  See our previous posts for other interesting CRs, including the entirety of Nashawena Island, an urban park, and an historic granite quarry!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New tool added to annual training for CR monitors

We provide annual training for every person monitoring CRs, and this year we've added a new tool to help locate the boundaries of a conservation restriction or its "special use" area (where specific, intensive activities like building a new house may be allowed). Staff Sam Phin, Andrew Bentley, and Chris Detwiller are shown below testing two new DeLorme PN-60 GPS units during the first training of the season held in Westport last week.

Thanks to the help of The Trustees' GIS staff, we can display on the GPS a color aerial photograph with the CR boundaries (green line), special use areas (red dashed line), and current location (blue triangle). While this still isn't as accurate as a survey, compass  and tape measure (which are also part of the trainings and our monitoring "toolkit") it gives us another way to navigate complicated properties and know what is -- or is not -- within the bounds of the conservation restriction.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

CR will Protect New Community Park in Fitchburg

Last year, The Trustees and the North County Land Trust acquired a CR on Massachusetts' first Gateway Park, soon to be constructed in the City of Fitchburg.  Gateway cities are twenty-four traditional manufacturing hubs across the state that are home to 35,000 or more residents.  Fitchburg's economy once thrived, anchored by paper mills and a General Electric plant, but lost 75% of its manufacturing jobs between 1960 and 2000 when these facilities closed down.  Today Fitchburg, like other post-industrial communities, has seen income and education levels lag behind other regions that can attract knowledge-based businesses like software developers and financial services. The Commonwealth's Gateway Parks program will provide new opportunities for residents to enjoy the outdoors, where parks are in scarce supply, and help attract other economic investment.

The Fitchburg Gateway Park will add to the many beautiful parks managed by the Fitchburg Parks Department. The CR will ensure that the land remains a city park for the public to use and enjoy, and permits a variety of activities including a community garden, performance pavilion, and walking trails along the banks of the North Nashua River. 

(Nashua River flowing past the park site, May 2008)

(Shady grove on the park site, along Nashua River bank, May 2008)

This project also demonstrates the effectiveness of public-private partnerships where private land trusts, the Nashua River Watershed Association , and the Fitchburg Greenway Committee (TTOR's 2010 Conservationist of the Year!), worked with state and local government to carry out a complex project.  We can't wait to monitor this land and watch the park transform from an abandoned industrial site into a vital community space, benefiting the residents of my historic home town.

Andrew Bentley - CR Stewardship Assistant

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conserving Cape Cod

The rapid growth in the number of summer and year-round homes on Cape Cod has consumed much of the remaining open land, and also created serious problems for drinking water supplies, ponds and estuaries polluted by nitrogen leaching out of septic systems. The Trustees of Reservations and several private landowners have protected more than 320 acres on four conservation restrictions in Barnstable and Yarmouth, keeping long stretches of coastline free of development and preserving habitat for birds like this Osprey (sitting on its nest during today's monitoring visit).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ipswich Salt Marsh CRs

Understandably, the salt marshes that The Trustees hold CRs on along Argilla Rd in Ipswich weren't much to look at on the cold, gloomy day we did our monitoring a few weeks ago, but I could certainly grasp what a vital ecosystem of plants and animals these wetlands support. 

As a native of western PA, I was curious to know more and have since learned that these CR protected salt marshes are part of what's known as the Great Marsh. At 25,000 acres, it's the largest contiguous salt marsh north of Long Island, NY.   This amazing salt marsh ecosystem supports over 30 species of shorebirds including the threatened Piping Plover and many other plant and animal species listed as "rare" and protected by the MA Endangered Species Act.

Although the 285+ acres of salt marsh protected by these 20+ CRs makes up only a small percentage of the Great Marsh, every bit helps to buffer this incredible coastal habitat from the ongoing threats of adjacent land development.

Sally Naser, CR Monitoring Specialist

Monday, April 11, 2011

Teaming up on a CR in Lowell

LPCT Executive Director Jane Calvin describes the Hawk Valley Farm CR

Snowshoes at the ready (photo by Charles Cutler)

LPCT Stewardship & Education Manager Brian Cutler explains the basics of wildlife tracking
(photo by Charles Cutler)

 The Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust and The Trustees of Reservations teamed up in 2009 to help conserve a critical five-acre parcel along Clay Pit Brook in Lowell's Pawtucketville neighborhood, resulting in the Hawk Valley Farm CR co-held by both organizations. Earlier this year LPCT offered a wildlife tracking event on the CR property on a snowy Saturday morning, treating those in attendance with a first-hand glimpse of signs left by a variety of animals that depend on this urban wild -- including fisher, deer, and fox.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Harbingers of Spring

That high pitched sound you may be hearing in the early evening is made by small frogs known as spring peepers, and is one of the first signs that spring has truly arrived. These little amphibians mate and lay their eggs in ponds and spend the rest of the year in the forest. Many of the conservation restrictions we hold cover properties with vernal pools and other wetlands which are protected by the MA Wetlands Protection Act as well as local wetlands protections bylaws in some towns to help ensure this spring chrous will continue to be heard forever.

 Copyright USGS

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

CR boundary signs

We have two different signs available to landowners for free to mark the boundaries of the CR. The first emphasizes the partnership between the landowner and The Trustees.

A new sign available this year stresses that the land is privately owned and no trespassing is allowed (this wouldn't be suitable where a CR allows for public access, of course). This marker can be effective where neighbors are inadvertently or intentionally straying onto the restricted land -- such as dumping grass clippings, extending their lawns or cutting down trees-- and stating clearly that this is private land protected with a permanent conservation restriction held by The Trustees.

Email us at or call 978-840-4446 x1922 to order your CR boundary signs and for help with posting your conservation land.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

A historic-folkloric CR monitoring visit

Since my arrival at The Trustees last November as the new CR Monitoring Specialist, one of the main aspects of my work that consistently intrigues me compared to my former job with the Appalachian Trail is the amazing variety of conservation values we protect through our CR program.

On a recent annual monitoring visit of a 185 acre CR in the Town of Milford, MA, my coworker and I spied this enormous rock pile deep in the woods.

Closer investigation of these massive stones left me wanting to know more about this property and of Milford's granite quarrying history.

With a quick google search back at the office, I soon learned of the discovery of pink granite in Milford back in the 1860's.  By the early 1900's, Milford was at the forefront of the granite industry providing over 1,000 quarrying jobs and building materials for such notable structures as the Boston Public Library, the former Pennsylvania Station in New York City and the steps and terrace walls of the Lincoln Memorial.  Between 1870-1940, it's estimated that over a million and half tons of granite were taken from the many quarries located across Milford.  Amazing!

For more information about the history of granite quarrying in Milford, MA see

Sally Naser, CR Monitoring Specialist

Protecting private farms

The Trustees hold or co-hold conservation restrictions on 66 farms, protecting 5,800 acres of important agricultural land. This is in addition to our work facilitiating transactions between farmers and the state that protect agricultural land through the MA Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chilly Cape Ann Monitoring!

This past week found us monitoring several conservation restrictions in towns on Cape Ann.  Little did we expect a snowstorm and blustery high seas!  A fish and chips lunch in Gloucester successfully drove the cold from our bones after our chilly treks!

The second picture is near Halibut Point Reservation acquired by The Trustees in 1934. On Cape Ann and elsewhere in Massachusetts we hold CRs on private land adjacent to Reservations and other conservation areas, creating networks of protected open space. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monitoring Nashawena Island CR by plane

The Nashawena Island conservation restriction granted in 1976 is the only one we monitor by plane...and it's also the largest CR held by The Trustees at 1,820 acres.

Welcome to "On the Land"

Many who know about The Trustees of Reservations from visiting our 105 reservations across Massachusetts may not be aware that we also protect privately owned properties with conservation restrictions (these are known as conservation easements outside Massachusetts). In 1972 the first Conservation Restriction (CR) was donated to The Trustees on land along the Charles River in Sherborn, and today our CR Program cares for over 345 properties conserving nearly 20,000 acres in 79 cities and towns. This blog is a new way for us to share stories, photos and advice with landowners, partners, our team of staff and volunteer monitors, and the conservation community about the stewardship efforts that happen after the CR is in place. It will also highlight the extraordinary natural, scenic, and cultural features that are permanently protected by our CRs. It's just another way we are working to help ensure that the most important Massachusetts landscapes are protected, forever.

Chris Rodstrom, CR Program Director

Conservation restriction on Martha's Vineyard