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The Trustees of Reservations

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Workshop - Preparing for the Emerald Ash Borer

Workshop: 'Preparing for the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Massachusetts'
Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2012.  Time: 3:00 - 6:00 P.M.
Location:  Doyle Community Park and Center - 464 Abbott Ave, Leominster MA 01453

An unwelcome invasive pest has arrived in Massachusetts - one which poses a major threat to our native ash trees. 

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an insect which has caused billions of dollars in timber damage in seventeen states since it was first detected in Michigan in 2002.  Found in the Berkshire County town of Dalton back in August, Massachusetts is now the eighteenth state with confirmed presence of EAB. 

See the Boston Globe article from September.  The EAB reproduces abundantly, and can spread quickly - and it has a pesky habit of not understanding county boundaries.  As such, the Boston Tree Party has already issued an alert (click here), as it not only threatens ash in our hardwood forests, but many of our urban street trees!  Find out more about EAB identification, resources, and the latest news at the MA Introduced Pests Outreach Project. 
Wherever you are in the state, the EAB could soon affect your local forests and trees.  The Trustees of Reservations and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Forest Stewardship Program are hosting a free workshop on the Emerald Ash Borer on December 4, at the Doyle Community Park and Center in Leominster.  Learn how to detect EAB, and what you as a concerned citizen, forester or tree professional, or landowner can do to limit its spread!

Click here for more information and to register!  We encourage our CR landowners to attend this workshop, and learn more about this urgent issue. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CR Properties open to the Public, Profile #1: Bates-Blackman Conservation Area in Groton, MA

Conservation Restrictions mostly protect private land in Massachusetts.  Since nearly all of these are closed to public access, we ask you to respect the landowners' privacy, and not trespass upon them. 

However, cities, towns, and other land trusts often grant CRs to The Trustees of Reservations, as an extra layer of protection for their conservation land - and most of these are open to the public. These conservation areas provide beautiful vistas, valuable wildlife habitat, protect our wetlands and water quality, and best of all, are open to recreation, for all the naturally curious families and hikers of Massachusetts to enjoy!  Think of these Special Places that we do not own, but help protect, as honorary additions to our 107 Reservations! 

Elly, our volunteer CR Monitoring mascot, scanning the wetland for beavers.

This is the first post in a series about CR properties that allow access for hikers and nature lovers.

Bates - Blackman Conservation Area - Groton, MA

The Bates-Blackman Conservation area is owned and maintained by the Groton Conservation Trust, and provides nearly 50 acres of forest and field along a forested ridge line on Indian Hill in Groton, and beautiful wet meadows below.  The Bates Land came to the Conservation Trust in 1968, and the adjacent Blackman land in 1984.  Wishing to see an additional layer of protection on the land, the Blackman family worked with the Conservation Trust and TTOR, to place a CR on the entirety of the conservation area in 2006.  

Two volunteer CR monitors climb up Indian Hill toward the golden fall foliage.
Here's the scoop on what you might see!  A western view of pastoral orchards and sheep on the farms below, stretching out to the Groton School's towers, and the hills and mountains of Central Massachusetts on the horizon.  Beyond the nearby ridges of Groton, Shirley, and Harvard, Mounts Wachusett (2,006' feet) and Watatic (1,832' feet) are visible, representing the state's two highest points east of the Connecticut River, while mighty Mount Monadnock (3,165' feet) in New Hampshire peeks up at the northern end of the vista!  To top off your visit, you can hope to see birds, heron and beaver activity in the wetlands, vernal pool life in the springtime, and resident mammal sightings in the fields and hilltop forest! 

We won't spoil the whole view, but there's Mount Wachusett gracing the horizon about twenty miles west!
In the words of the Blackmans, the place "frees one from the daily world left at the bottom of the hill, and encourages one to associate with horizons, perceived, imagined, and beyond."  We couldn't say it better ourselves!  The Trustees of Reservations are proud to help protect this conservation land  through a CR - and we hope you enjoy your visit as much as we enjoy monitoring it!  

Check out the Groton Conservation Trust's Guidebook for directions and a trail map!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Resurgent Massachusetts forests and wildlife!

The regeneration of New England from its 19th century landscape of open fields and farms to an increasingly thick and diverse forest habitat is a fascinating, ongoing story, made even more interesting by the fact that this was entirely uplanned, caused only by the mass abandonment of farmland in the 19th through early 20th centuries.  Farmers sought the flat landscape and fertile soils of Ohio and the Midwest during this time period, leaving our glaciated, rocky, and steep landscape behind them.  As a result while we live in the nation's third most densely populated state, supporting a large, dynamic, and hectic metropolitan region, Massachusetts today is also the eighth most forested state in the country, with over 60% forest cover

Image credit: USDA Forest Service

Creatures long eradicated from Massachusetts during the agricultural prime now call our new forests home.  Some even wander into our crowded suburbs and cities.  My cousin ran to the window one morning as a child in the early 1990s, calling out to her mother - "Mommy, look, there's a horse in the back yard!"  Confused for a moment, as equestrian facilities were rather lacking in our Fitchburg neighborhood, her mom quickly realized the "horse" was a cow moose!  Such sightings of moose are more and more common these days, and not just in the expected places like rural parts of Western and Central MA - but in places as urban as Worcester, and as close to Boston as Weston, Wellesley, and Needham.  Black Bear sightings have become more common as well, stretching far south to Cape Cod and even in Brookline

A wild turkey relaxes at Allandale Farm in Boston / Brookline, perhaps after a sidewalk stroll in Coolidge Corner?
The most resilient animals are able to adapt to life among our suburbs and urban centers - territorial wild turkeys amuse and sometimes terrorize the suburbs and Beacon Street, and have given CR staff some unnerving looks at the Allandale Farm CR in Boston and Brookline.  Meanwhile, we have seen Massachusetts' ubiquitous deer on CR properties hop 7-foot-high fences in Millis, and converge in a winter herd of over twenty in Ipswich.  A fisher cat startled our CR Program Director at the Gateway Park CR in Fitchburg last year (see previous post).  We have yet to see the animals themselves, but have seen bear and moose droppings and tracks on CR properties in New Marlborough (not to be confused with Marlborough, though they probably pass through there occasionally too!).  In the end, though, the most adaptable and controversial relative newcomer (1950s) to Massachusetts may be the eastern coyote.

In fact not native to New England - wolves are the native species, but were eradicated by 1840 - research has shown the eastern coyote to be a complex hybrid of the western coyote, with certain wolf species.  As a result, the term "coywolf" has been coined to describe them.  They are in fact larger on average than their western cousins, and are often mistaken for wolves as a result!  These wolf sightings are unlikely but not impossible - the first confirmed Massachusetts wolf in ~170 years was killed in October 2007 in Shelburne, MA, and found to have migrated from Canada.  Since coyotes are opportunistic feeders - hunter of rodents and other small animals, foragers of fruits and berries, and scavengers of roadkill and garbage - they find our suburbs and even cities to provide quite a lavish banquet, including, sadly, the occasional unfortunate pet.  Their eerie choruses of howling are a common sound from the deep forests to the subdivisions these days! 

A coyote on Nashawena Island greets the monitoring crew!
The media is humming with articles and editorials on suburban coyotes, some in favor of peaceful co-existence, others staunchly against.  As there are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, and Nantucket is the only one of those which definitely does not have coyotes - they've even swam out to establish themselves on the Elizabeth Islands (confirmed) and the Vineyard (unofficially) - there are probably some near you!  Since coyotes are both territorial and some are migratory, in search of their own territory to fill, they have established themselves quickly and persistently, and eradicating them is neither simple nor necessarily desirable.  Coyotes eradicated from their own territory through natural or human-caused death are often quickly replaced by migratory ones in search of territory.  It may not be entirely desirable either, as coyotes keep certain rodent populations under control, which can be both general pests, and some being carriers of ticks that can cause Lyme and other diseases.  That said, we'll leave you with more photos, and the state's official advice on Living With Coyotes, from MassWildlife

Coyote mama and pups on a Marion CR!

Her vigilant maternal eyes hardly left us for a second!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CR Monitoring Voyage to Nashawena Island!

Last Friday, Conservation Restriction program staff had the opportunity to finally VISIT on one of our most unique CR properties - both our largest and MOST REMOTE conservation restriction property!  The CR on Nashawena Island, granted to The Trustees of Reservations in 1976, encompasses the entirety of the island's 1,820 acres.  Nashawena is the second largest of the Elizabeth Islands southwest of Woods Hole.  These islands constitute the Commonwealth's least-populated municipality (pop. 75 per the 2010 Census), the Town of Gosnold.  In the past we have monitored the island by plane (see earlier post) or on the ground. 

"Monitoring" from the Cuttyhunk Ferry.
This year, the need to update our baseline ground photographs led to an on-the-ground site visit!   The journey was more complex than most: two round trip boat rides awaited us, from New Bedford to Cuttyhunk Island, and Cuttyhunk to Nashawena, on top of a round trip from our home base at the Doyle Community Park and Center in Leominster!  A long but worthwhile day!

A shaggy roadblock refused to move for the caretaker's truck!
A year-round population of two caretakers round out the bulk of the island's population - a large herd of free roaming Scottish highland cattle which graze to maintain the natural grasslands, deer and coyotoes (which swam to the island!), sea and migratory birds, and a variety of rare and endangered plant and animal species.  Four modest dwellings serve as lodging for visiting members of the landowner family, and house the caretakers.  

Looking down toward Quicks Hole Pond, and Martha's Vineyard across the water.
 The only things better than the scenery were the family members' and caretakers' hospitality and sharing a glimpse of this remote and unspoiled island's history with us!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wildlife habitat grants for landowners

(Original post from the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition) The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) invites farmers, woodlot owners, and other private landowners who want to actively manage their property to benefit wildlife to apply for a Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) grant. LIP is designed to reimburse private landowners up to 75% of the total project cost of managing lands to improve habitat for declining types of wildlife in the Commonwealth. The application deadline is October 12, 2012. Eligible applicants must successfully complete their proposed project by June 30, 2013. State and municipal agencies are not eligible for this funding. LIP information and application documents are posted at:

Since 2005, MassWildlife's Landowner Incentive Program has funded 157 wildlife habitat projects and provided technical assistance to private landowners from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. Past projects have benefited a wide array of species-at-risk across the Commonwealth including but not limited to, enhancement of beach habitat for shorebird breeding, creation of grassland-bird breeding habitat, and habitat maintenance for rare turtles. Through the LIP, MassWildlife has contributed close to $3.5 million for the conservation of declining species on private land over the LIP's six-year history.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

NE Wildlife Trackers Conference at The Trustees' Doyle Community Park & Center on October 20!

The Northeast Wildlife Trackers Conference takes place this year on Saturday, October 20, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, at the Trustees' Doyle Community Park and Center in Leominster! 

A great event for anyone interested in New England wildlife, from beginner to expert, we'll hear from a variety of world-class presenters!  Speakers cover a myriad of topics ranging from field advice to enhance tracking skills, to a wildlife monitoring program that depends on citizens' smart-phones, to the controversial topic of whether cougars are recolonizing New England.  Keynote speaker Roland Kays, Ph.D. of North Carolina State University, will present his talk "Camera Traps as Binoculars for Mammal Watchers."  Kays's research includes the use of motion-triggered cameras ("camera traps") in wildlife science - learn more about this kind of research at the project's Smithsonian-hosted website, !

This is put on by the NE Wildlife Trackers, and is not a Trustees event, so check out to find out how to register. 

While we're at it - can anyone ID what kind of critter made these tracks?  Spotted on a Trustees' CR property in Central MA! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

For the Love of the Land (our 20,000 acre landowner profile)

The recent edition of Special Places and The Trustees Annual Report includes a wonderful profile of the landowner in Westport who donated a conservation restriction and helped us reach our milestone of protecting 20,000 acres with Conservation Restrictions. To read more about the story see the digital edition of Special Places at . For other editions of our magazine click here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

100,000 acres protected by Patrick administration (and counting!)

Recently the Patrick-Murray administration announced an extraordinary achievement -- protection of 100,000 acres in the state in less than six years since they took office. And this milestone was even more impressive because, for the first time, the amount of protected open space (1.25 million acres) exceeds the amount of developed land in Massachusetts. The state's efforts to conserve land and create parks in 310 communities helps build a strong, resilient network of protected places that will benefit everyone in the state. Congratulations!

For more information click HERE

Friday, September 14, 2012

New webpage for CRs on The Trustees website!

Interested in learning more about the Conservation Restriction work at The Trustees, including a list of resources for landowners and managers? Check out our brand new webpage at

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: CR Fish Inventory by UMass Student Matthew Cembrola

With over 360 Conservation Restriction properties in over 70 Massachusetts communities, volunteers are an integral piece of the puzzle to ensure that The Trustees of Reservations are able to monitor every single such property on an annual basis.  At last count, eighteen volunteers generously assist us with CR monitoring, from MetroWest to the South and North Shores, to the western MA hilltowns and southern Berkshires.  A couple within that number apply their unique knowledge to help conduct field studies for the CR Program!     

One such volunteer is Matthew Cembrola.  A graduate student at UMass Amherst finishing a master's degree in Environmental Conservation, with a research focus on fish genetics, Matthew conducted a preliminary ecological inventory of fish in a stream that passes through a CR property in central Massachusetts.  His classmate Sarah Martinez also helped out for the day. This was a great opportunity for Matthew and Sarah to apply their knowledge in the field, helping both The Trustees and a grateful CR landowner (and avid fisherman!) understand more about the species found on the protected property.

Matthew and Sarah survey spots for minnow traps in the beaver pond.

Sampling a distance of just over 500 feet of the stream, we found six species of fish - many blacknose and longnose dace, white suckerfish, several fallfish, a chain pickerel, and one pumpkinseed sunfish.  Matt and Sarah examined each and every fish to record species count and measurement data - the largest of which was a 24 cm white suckerfish!  Other species observed in the process included abundant crayfish, two common salamander species, and some startled green and pickerel frogs. 
Matthew and Sarah with Trustees' staff, preparing to ID and measure the fish!
This was just a preliminary assessment, but since we observed no trout, it seems likely that the stream may not support a trout population beyond the stocking season.  Beyond the study itself, it was nice to spend a monitoring and field study visit in rich woodlands with a soundtrack of running water and a curious song sparrow watching over us, surrounded by April wildflowers - check out all the trillium nodding above the banks!

Matthew is our first CR Field Study Volunteer, but we are looking for several more!  If you want to help us and CR landowners better understand their protected property, and you have applicable knowledge in an area of ecology or natural resources to share by conducting a short study, we have a unique volunteer opportunity with the CR Program!  Click here to check out the position description and we will help to set up a study on a suitable Conservation Restriction property in your neck of the woods.  A big shout out and thanks to Matt and Sarah for a great contribution to our CR property documentation! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The story behind the trail named "Two Rod Road"

You can explore the conserved areas of Estabrook Woods in Carlisle along many public hiking trails, but one path name is quite different from most -- "Two Rod Road."  This road dates from 1774 and was originally named for its width -- with two rods, or 33 feet, separating the stonewalls bordering much of the trail.

You can see these stone walls as you hike the Two Rod Road trail and enjoy this area protected with numerous CRs. Start from The Trustees of Reservations Malcolm Preserve managed with the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, and check out the trail maps from the Town trails committee.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day Canoe Trip -- near Bart's Cobble and CRs along the Housatonic

If you sign up for the canoe trip along the winding Housatonic this Memorial Day weekend (clicker HERE to learn more and register), you will enjoy the beauty of this meandering river as it passes through agricultural fields and floodplain forests, some of which are protected with conservation restrictions held by The Trustees. As is the case with many of our reservations, the landscape surrounding Bartholomew's Cobble is protected by restrictions with the property owned and cared for by private farmers and landowners.

On this tour, you'll learn about the river's history and what is happening to restore some of its most precious habitats and species from its upper reaches in Pittsfield, through Massachusetts and into Connecticut. Paddles, life preservers, and boats are provided. Please pre-register.

Protected farm along the Housantonic River

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Answer to mystery structure found on monitoring visit...

Stumped? Well, here is a more elaborate version of the same structure we found on the conservation restriction land, this one having been built and filmed for a tv commercial ...(click if you don't see the video below)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Can you identify this structure?

Occasionally, we come across something on land protected by a conservation restriction (CR) held by The Trustees that we have never seen before. It's part of what makes monitoring CRs so interesting. What we discovered this week left us scratching our heads....can you tell what it is? Stumped? Check in next week for the answer ...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lady's Slippers

Visiting conservation restrictions in the spring often yields welcome surprises like these Pink Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) found growing beneath a stand of pine trees on conserved land in Greater Boston. This species of orchid, also known as Stemless Lady's-slipper, or Moccasin Flower,  is not listed as an endangered or threatened species likes its relatives the Showy Lady's Slipper and Rams Head Lady Slipper, but nevertheless is a beautiful addition to the woodland landscape.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cooperative Conservation Assist Projects are the fastest-growing Method of Conservation nationwide!

The Trustees of Reservations, America's oldest statewide land trust, is best known for our 106 Reservations on 26,000 acres across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, "for public use and enjoyment" as our mission statement has always said.  You might already know, though, that this blog focuses on our lesser known side: land conservation through Conservation Restrictions (CRs) - an area in which we recently celebrated our 20,000th acre protected.  While these typically privately-protected properties are not often open "for public use and enjoyment," the purpose of CRs revolve around public benefit, through protection of water supply, wildlife habitat, land for agriculture, and scenic views, among other conservation values. 

I had thought that CRs are still the fastest-growing land protection method by land trusts in the nation.  However, upon checking the 2010 National Land Trust Census results, I found that I was in fact wrong, and this is actually NOT the case by percentage increase in acres protected between the 2005 and 2010 Censuses!  Indeed, land protected by CRs (Conservation Easements everywhere else in the U.S.) did show the biggest numerical increase in acres conserved - 2.8 million new acres nationwide, from 6 million in 2005 to 8.8 million total nationwide acres in 2010, an impressive increase of 47%.  Land owned outright by land trusts increased by 40%, from 1.5 million to 2.1 million total acres.  What then was the fastest-growing category by percentage change, keeping pace with CEs and then some?

The category in question grew by a whopping 51%, from about 3.4 million to 5.1 million total acres, and the name of the Land Trust Census category for it is a mouthful: "Acres acquired and reconveyed and acres conserved by other means by state and local land trusts."  In plain English, one might boil this down to "Land Conservation partnerships," or "assists," where land is protected as a result of the actions of a land trust, but the land trust doesn't necessarily end up owning the land, or even holding a resultant conservation easement.  This is a testament to partnerships - land trusts working together with other land trusts or partnering with cities, towns, or the state, where a land protection organization cooperating on a project does not necessarily end up with the resulting interest in the subject land.  

The Trustees of Reservations recently calculated our last ten years of conservation acreage by type of transaction.  And the results pretty much match the national trends - in fact we found that cooperative assist projects in which TTOR participated accounted for a very large portion of the total land which we have conserved or helped to put in to conservation! 

Happy Cattle at Oscar Palmer Farm!
Where have we helped to accomplish this work in the last decade?  In a wide variety of projects in over 30 cities and towns statewide!  How about a short sampler of notables?  Westport comes to mind, where we partnered with the town, the community, and the Westport Land Conservation Trust from 2008 to 2011 to protect the historic Oscar Palmer Farm - 29 acres threatened by development - and sell to a conservation buyer.  Just one of the numerous successful Westport projects (totalling 2,000+ acres!) in which we have played a part!

In the bustling Pioneer Valley hub of Northampton, a partnership in 2005-2006 with the city and Mass Audubon resulted in protection of 120 acres on Turkey Hill Road, near the western boundary of the town, abutting Westhampton, and later added to the Mineral Hills Conservation Area.  The land was under imminent threat of development by a private owner.  The Trustees and Mass Audubon offered temporary loan and ownership assistance to the city, while they applied for a state grant, with which proceeds the property was eventually protected! 

Crucial Wetlands in the Fitchburg Water Supply lands, now under conservation.
In the re-emerging North Central MA city of Fitchburg, a partnership between the city,  North County Land Trust, The Trustees, the Nashua River Watershed Association, the MA Department of Fish and Game, and DEP, resulted in a whopping 1,900 acres of city land under CR with the Department of Fish and Game, protecting a large portion of the city's drinking water supply lands, and it is open for public recreation too!  Also in Fitchburg, we partnered with the city, North County Land Trust, and many other organizations to acquire the land and bring the state's first Gateway Park to fruition!  It opened in September 2011, owned by the city, with a CR held by TTOR and North County Land Trust.  Assist projects don't always imply that we are hands-off in future property stewardship, and The Trustees are partnering with community organizations and residents to run the community garden at the Fitchburg Gateway Park next year!

Copicut Woods Reservation is the portion of the SE BioReserve directly owned by The Trustees.
A final example comes in Fall River, where we are a partner in the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve, in which we own the 516-acre Copicut Woods Reservation and hold a 50-acre deed restriction on a crucial border parcel, and have worked actively with the city and state for well over a decade to assist in the further protection and management of these 13,600 pristine and ecologically amazing acres which span multiple towns.  Creation of the Bioreserve even included a 300-acre land grant from the state on which the city is building the Fall River Executive Park, to spur economic development expected to bring thousands of jobs to Southeastern MA!! 

Land conservation in these ever-challenging times works extremely well with innovative private-public partnerships.  In a diverse array of cities and towns across Massachusetts, as big as Boston and Fall River, as small as Hadley and New Braintree, and in suburbs like Holliston and Seekonk, we have successfully partnered with towns, other land trusts, and state agencies to leverage an exciting portfolio of conservation projects!  This is thanks to our partners and to our dedicated land protection staff!  A local conservation project may not always have The Trustees' logo on it, nor should it always, but we may well have worked behind the scenes on a successful project near you!

 Posted by Andrew Bentley - CR Stewardship Assistant.

Friday, April 20, 2012

2012 Massachusetts Conservation Tax Credit announced and accepting applications!

Tax season is now behind us (phew!), but is it ever too early to start thinking about next year?  If you or someone you know is weighing the possibility of land conservation - outright donation, Conservation Restriction donation, or bargain sale of land or CRs - we want to inform you about an exciting state tax credit of up to $50,000.  In late March, the State Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) announced that it is now accepting applications for the 2012 Conservation Land Tax Credit Program (CLTC)!  Last year was the credit's inaugural year, and it was administered through a lottery, but this year's credit will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.  The credit is capped at $2 million in credits distributed each year, which means at least forty full $50,000 credits, or a substantially higher number of lesser credits are available!  As implied, lesser credits are available for smaller-value donations that would receive, say, a $20,000 credit rather than a $50,000 credit.  

Rich wildlife habitats may qualify for a tax credit!
The CLTC marks the first time that Massachusetts has offered a tax incentive for land conservation donations.  This tax credit is in addition to federal income tax deductions available for land gifts.   
Land characteristics are more important than the type of transaction - generally, land is eligible, via state EEA determination, if it contains public conservation values significant to protect drinking water supplies, rare species and other wildlife habitats, agricultural or forestry lands, recreational opportunities and scenic or cultural values of state or regional importance.  Land must be put into perpetual conservation in order to qualify. 

As a first step, the landowner must apply to the program before the gift or bargain sale is completed.     

Land with rich agricultural and scenic value may be eligible for the new tax credit!

Once the property has been pre-approved by the Commonwealth, the landowner is required to obtain an appraisal of the property to determine the land’s market value.  The appraisal establishes the amount of the tax credit and the credit is applied to the amount of income tax that you owe. The State will apply the credit to your tax liability in the year of the gift.  If the credit exceeds your tax liability, the state will issue a check for the remainder of the credit.  That means that not only would your State income tax be wiped out for that year, but the State will issue you a check for the difference between that year’s tax and $50,000 or 50 percent of the appraised value, whichever is less.  For example, if you donated a conservation restriction appraised at $120,000, your tax credit would be the maximum $50,000.  If your Mass. income tax is $10,000, you would pay no state tax and get a check for the $40,000 difference.  You do not need to reside in Massachusetts or even pay taxes here; so long as you own the land, and the land qualifies, you qualify. 

Guidelines on how the credit works, and how to apply, are available at the EEA's webpage for the credit - Click here to access it.

Remember, since there is the $2 million budget limit on the credit, and it must be for a project completed in 2012 (recorded at the Registry of Deeds), the sooner you initiate a project and apply for the credit, the better your chances for receiving it. 

Find a potential land trust partner for your land conservation project, here at The Trustees of Reservations, or at the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition!  We are thrilled that Massachusetts has joined the dozen forward-thinking states that supply state tax credits for land conservation! 

Post by Andrew Bentley - special thanks to TTOR Westport Community Conservation Specialist, Chris Detwiller, for adapted content!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Alprilla Farm in Essex, MA. CSAs on CR farms!

Alprilla Farm - Essex, MA - 70 acres protected by a 1984 CR to The Trustees of Reservations

Alprilla Farm - "Essex Grown" Photo Credit: Alprilla Farm

The rise of CSAs is one of the most exciting phenomena for New England farmers in recent decades.  Equally exciting and absolutely integral to the future of farming in our region is the revived enthusiasm of young people for agricultural careers - where the mid fifties is the average age of farmers statewide and nationwide.  Alprilla farmer Noah Kellerman is a great example of one such young person turning that tide!  Noah grew up on the farm, which his grandfather managed for cattle, and his parents for hay and horse boarding.  After a childhood spent gardening with his family, and a successful summer 2009 market garden, he began to think seriously about starting a CSA.  He successfully launched the CSA just after graduating from Hampshire College in 2011.  He brings his studies and hands-on experience in sustainable, organic agriculture, to provide CSA shares to the North Shore.  His friend Tucker Smith, a Gloucester native and grad of UMass Amherst's Stockbridge School of Agriculture, runs the farm with him. 

Farmers Noah Kellerman (R) and Tucker Smith (L).  Pretty sure Noah is wearing a Trustees of Reservations staff shirt! Photo credit: Alprilla Farm
Noah's connections to The Trustees go deeper than growing up on a farm privately protected by our organization - and he cites his apprenticeship at our nearby Appleton Farms CSA for several summers as one of his main motivations to take up farming!  If you are local, you may just be stuck on the Appleton CSA waiting list.  Just to say - Alprilla Farm is a short 4 miles away on Route 133, and they still have some shares available!  Interested in what they grow?  Click the link to check out just some of some of their crop list.  All produce is grown using organic methods by two very experienced young farmers. 

Act fast to sign up for Alprilla's 2012 CSA - the sixty shares are sure to go fast there as well!  We are excited for this venture, and anticipate Alprilla Farm growing into a great resource in the Essex community!  Keep tabs on their Facebook page to see what they are up to as the 2012 CSA season takes shape.  Congratulations from The Trustees to Noah as he builds his own farm and CSA program!  We are thrilled to help motivate and train future farmers, and protect land for them to build their businesses!     

Alprilla Farm sits directly across the street from the Trustees' Stavros Reservation, with its magnificent views of the Essex River estuary, featuring the dramatic salt marsh and drumlin landscape of the Crane Wildlife Refuge flanking Crane Beach.  The farm is part of the Stavros family legacy of conservation, who donated the CR on the farm in 1984, the bulk of the Stavros Reservation land, and the family's Cape Ann Golf Course, also under Trustees' CR.  Noah Kellerman's family continues this exciting legacy, farming Massachusetts land that has been in agriculture since the 17th century.

Posted by Andrew Bentley - CR Stewardship Assistant

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Warner Farm and Mikes Maze in Sunderland, MA - CSAs on CR-Protected Farms

Aerial view looking N/NE up the Connecticut River - Warner Farm sits on its east (right side) bank!. Photo Credit:

Warner Farm and Mikes Maze: CSA shares in the Pioneer Valley and Metro Boston. Nationally-renowned corn maze every Autumn!
32+ acres protected by a 1986 Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) held by The Trustees of Reservations
Kale and greens growing at Warner Farm, in some of the world's richest agricultural soil! Photo Credit:

Eleaser Warner (1694-1776) lived in an agricultural age, when the idyllic town of Sunderland (Swampfield at that time) was a newly incorporated frontier settlement.  Times have changed since he founded Warner Farm in 1720 (he probably never suspected it would have a Facebook Page), but we think he'd be happy to see his 10th-generation descendants till the same rich agricultural soil on the banks of the Connecticut River nearly 300 years later.  Today it is one of the oldest family farms in New England, watched over by Deerfield's scenic Mount Sugarloaf (now a DCR State Reservation), and just minutes north of UMass Amherst.  The farm is run by a dedicated staff of four: father and son Mike and David Wissemann; CSA Manager Jess Marsh; and Taylor Haas, Equipment Operator and Yard Manager.   They grow over 100 varieties of vegetables, using USDA certified organic practices, with 17 acres dedicated to offering Certified Organic produce.  CSA Members can purchase summer shares of vegetables, fruit, eggs, and flowers, and pick them up at a variety of Pioneer Valley locations, and even in Eastern MA at the Winchester Farmer's Market, and at the Winchester/Woburn Whole Foods Market, - see all locations here. They have formed an innovative partnership to provide produce at Brandeis University in Waltham, which you can read about by clicking here

Noah Webster challenges 2011 Mike's Maze visitors with a word search game in corn! Photo Credit:
Warner Farm may be best known as the host site of Mike's Maze, Wissemann's creation with a friend, artist Will Sillin.  Since 2000, the two have collaborated to create intricate corn maze art installations, designed as famous people and art pieces, and grown in corn.  We are talking nationally televised, Ripley's Believe-it-or-Not intricate here - the maze has been featured on Ripley's television show, on CNN, ABC, and the Weather Channel!  In past mazes, they have covered everything from the Mona Lisa in 2001, to the 2004 Presidential Candidates, to Noah Webster (of Merriam-Webster Dictionary fame, still a local business in nearby Springfield today!) in 2011.  The maze is open to the public on weekends during September and October.  Stay tuned to their website for the astounding design of this year's ma(i)ze - a great excuse to visit a gorgeous and fun region in peak foliage and get lost in corn! 

The Trustees of Reservations and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources ensure permanent protection of this private farm through an Agricultural Preservation Restriction. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

CSAs on CR-protected Farms #1 - Tangerini's Spring Street Farm in Millis

Families can pick their own veggies at Spring Street Farm
Photo Credit: Tangerini's Spring Street Farm
Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an economic model that brings customers to local farms, as shareholders of a growing season's crops.  It not only supports the economic health and viability of farms, but the health of  local customers connected to fresh, local food.  What's more, in the age of development pressure and sprawl, a successful CSA helps keep land in agriculture, and maintains the traditional scenic landscape of Massachusetts.  As you may already know, The Trustees of Reservations runs CSAs at four farm-oriented Reservations: Appleton Farms in Ipswich & Hamilton; Moraine Farm in Beverly; Powisset Farm in Dover; and Weir River Farm in Hingham.  In addition, we are thrilled that our Conservation Restrictions (CRs) and Agricultural Preservation Restrictions (APRs) protect five private farms running CSA programs from Boston (yes, within the city limits) and Metro Boston to the Pioneer Valley.  To sum up what some farm landowners have told us on our monitoring visits, now is a great time to be in farming, and one expressed his unexpected (but welcome!) surprise that local farmers have become almost 'rock stars' in the local public eye, as commitment to local food has grown in recent decades. We want to share a bit about these successful farms and farmers that Trustees of Reservations CRs help make possible - stay tuned for a series of posts featuring these CSAs. 

Tangerini's Spring Street Farm - Millis, MA - CSA and community-centered farm in Metro West!
67+ acres protected by a 1997 Trustees of Reservations CR, and a 1983 and 1997 state-held APR

Photo Credit: Tangerini's Spring Street Farm

Tangerini's Spring Street Farm is a thriving family farm today, in no small part due to the CSA model.  Just a half mile from the center of Millis, it provides a beautiful working farm and open space that contrasts with its pleasant suburban neighborhood surroundings.  Its history dates to the early 19th century, when the upper Charles River valley was a patchwork of such farms.  Through most of the 20th century, it was known as DeAngelis Farm, stewarded by Louie DeAngelis, who spent his whole life on the family farm.  Mr. DeAngelis ensured its permanent protection through a 1982 APR, and by willing the farm to Trustees' affiliate, the Massachusetts Land Conservation Trust, upon his death in 1993.  The Trustees fulfilled his wishes of finding new farmers to work the property, and screened applicants and their farm plans from all over New England.  By 1995, Laura and Charlie Tangerini were selected as the stewards of Mr. DeAngelis's legacy to Millis.

The Tangerinis offer multiple CSA options year-round, from traditional spring and summer crops, to winter and deep winter shares.  Perhaps most unique are their "U-Pick Flower Share," offering twenty stems of annual flowers per week during a 12-13 week period from July to September, and their "Food to Share" program, which provides fresh produce shares at reduced cost for those in need. 

(Photo Credit: Edible Boston; photographer Michael Piazza)

The Tangerinis' commitment to community-minded agriculture and conservation extends well beyond their CSA, and a poignant example is their annual summer staff of over a dozen local teenagers.  What better way to instill a lifelong appreciation of the land in the next generation than hands-on experience working it?  Read all about it in Edible Boston's wonderful past feature about Tangerini Farm, its farmers, and their teen employees by clicking here.  Take a trip out to Millis this Spring or Summer, and you can treat yourself to ice cream from their stand, pick your own produce or buy it from the farmstand, then walk off that ice cream on their public walking trail.  If you are a local, you might consider the healthy commitment to a CSA share of the summer bounty!  Get a jump on it, and purchase preseason market shares by March 31, to get a 20% discount, or by May 1, for a 10% discount, at the farmstand or the Natick Farmer's Market, through their Market Share program.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vernal pools

Signs of spring are in the air -- the call of tree frogs known as "peepers" , warmer temperatures, rain and longer days are all signs that winter is almost (officially) over. Not that it was a much of a winter! But soon the temporarily filled vernal pools on many conservation properties will be home once again to many species of amphibians like the Blue Spotted Salamander. Vernal pools are unique wildlife habitats best known for the amphibians and invertebrate animals that use them to breed. If you want to know more about this important -- but fleeting -- part of the Massachusetts landscape, check out the state's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program HERE.

Monday, February 27, 2012

One Thing Congress Agrees On: Land Conservation

Conservation Tax Incentive Championed by Majorities of Both Parties in House:  The Land Trust Alliance announced that over 300 U.S. Representatives, including nine members from Massachusetts (Representatives Olver, Neal, McGovern, Frank, Tsongas, Markey, Capuano, Lynch, and Keating) have co-sponsored the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. H.R. 1964 makes permanent a recently-expired tax incentive that helps organizations like The Trustees of Reservations work with modest income landowners to conserve important natural or historic resources in our community.

Many of the donors of Conservation Restrictions to TTOR have benefitted from this federal income tax deduction in the past, and we support the LTA's efforts to re-establish it going forward. Since the incentive expired at the end of 2011, landowners with modest incomes now receive little tax benefit from restricting what may be their family’s most valuable asset. By allowing donors to deduct a larger portion of their income over a longer period of time, H.R. 1964 will help thousands of family farmers, ranchers, and forest owners afford to conserve their land.

For more information on the tax incentive legislation visit the LTA website at   A broad coalition of sportsmen, outdoor enthusiasts, farmers, ranchers and national conservation groups are working together to make this incentive permanent in the 112th Congress.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Growing importance of conservation restrictions as land protection tool

The recent Land Trust Alliance census shows that more land is being protected through the conservation restrictions (aka conservation easements in most parts of the country) than ownership by land conservation groups. As the graph below shows, 8.8 million acres are now protected via CRs by state and local land trusts, compared with 2.1 million acres owned. This also means that good CR stewardship (building good relationships with landowners, regular monitoring, rigorous documentation, etc) will also be more important than ever in coming years.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Newest Westport restriction is the 20,000th acre protected by Trustees of Reservations CRs!

An end-of-year conservation restriction granted to The Trustees of Reservations and Westport Land Conservation Trust pushed the total area protected by CRs across the state over the 20,000 acre mark! Congratulations to everyone in Westport for helping us achieve this important milestone.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Symposium on Conservation Easements

The Duke Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems has published a symposium edition entitled Conservation Easements: New Perspectives in an Evolving World (Volume 74 Fall 2011 Number 4). The purpose of the symposium is to "avoid restating the conventional wisdom about conservation easements and, instead, to stimulate innovative thinking and reforms in conservation easement law and practice." The symposium articles address a host of interesting and sometimes controversial issues, including the challenges posed to perpetual protection by climate change, the weaknesses in state conservation easement enabling legislation and suggested reforms, the inefficacy of the federal tax incentive program relating to conservation easement donations, the risks state legislatures pose to perpetual conservation easements, and why the doctrine of merger generally should not apply to perpetual conservation easements.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Three CR Staff Speaking Engagements in Winter 2012

The Conservation Restriction team at The Trustees of Reservations are busy year-round.  Three seasons of monitoring leads to a winter of paperwork processing, followup communications to landowners, gearing up for next season's field work, and completing our last few monitoring visits.  However, it is our quietest time of year, and so has left some time to present several seminars on our work.  These will cover CR Stewardship and Defense of CRs.  Two of these events are free, and all are open to the public. The third is part of the 22nd Annual Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference, and so requires event registration and fee.  See below for details on all three!

CR Stewardship and Defense in action during last year's very different winter!

The first presentation, titled "Defense of Conservation Restrictions," takes place on Tuesday, February 21, from 4:00-5:15 PM at UMass Amherst's Holdsworth building, featuring CR Program staff Sally Naser and Andrew Bentley.  This is hosted by the UMass Department of Environmental Conservation, part of Professor David Kittredge's "Case Studies in Conservation" graduate seminar.  Weekly speakers from conservation organizations around the state will speak about challenges and successes in private land conservation.  Though it is a UMass class, Dr. Kittredge encourages and welcomes the public to attend, so don't be shy!  This is a series not to be missed, if you're within range of Amherst.  Other weekly talks include another TTOR staff member Wendy Sweetser of the Highland Communities Initiative, (HCI), and speakers from Mass Audubon, Mass Wildlife, New England Forestry Foundation, and many others - the speaker schedule can be seen by clicking here.

The second is entitled "Introduction to CR Monitoring and Stewardship," and also takes place in the Pioneer Valley.  The workshop takes place at 7pm on Wednesday, February 29, at the South Hadley town hall - 116 Main St, South Hadley, MA.  It is sponsored by the Highland Communities Initiative, and will be co-presented by CR Program and HCI staff, along with the Amherst-based Kestrel Land Trust.  The presentation is free and open to all, but please RSVP by calling or emailing HCI- see the flyer below.

Last but certainly not least is a workshop entitled "Effective Enorcement of CR Violations," at the 2012 Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference (MLCC), which takes place just past the Vernal Equinox, on March 24 in Worcester.  CR Program Director Chris Rodstrom will co-present with colleagues Sally Naser and Andrew Bentley, joined by Sudbury Valley Trustees Stewardship Director Laura Mattei.  MLCC has three sessions throughout the day, with over 30 workshops to choose from, and is the premiere gathering of conservation professionals and supporters in the Commonwealth.  Click here or the conference link above to find out how to register for this exciting conference, now in its 22nd year.  Be sure to register before March 10, to save money on the registration fee!  Even better, volunteering to help out on conference day will earn free registration, in exchange for six hours of volunteer time!  Check out the conference brochure for a listing of all workshops.