Land conservation gifts launch new decade

Land protection is documented as one of the most critical ways to mitigate the impact of climate change on wildlife, and land owners in the North Quabbin region are stepping up to the challenge.

In the face of dire news about the climate and declining bird populations, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust can celebrate two recent victories, including increased conservation land, added wheelchair access at the Eagle Reserve Conservation Area in Royalston and fundraising efforts to protect Sunset View Farm in Winchendon, according to a Mount Grace press release.

Danny Hillis and Taylor Milsal recently donated a conservation restriction on over 167 acres in Winchendon and Rindge, N.H., with the goal of keeping their property “forever wild.” The interstate property includes the entirety of Robbins Pond, forests, wetlands and fields.

“Mount Grace designed a conservation plan for our property with designated areas for wildly important re-wilding and farming,” Milsal said. “Now we can ring in the new year with the joyful certainty that this unique property will be enjoyed as it was meant to be, for generations to come.”

Roughly 30 years ago, Mount Grace created the Arthur Iversen Conservation Area in Warwick after receiving a gift of land. This year, that area grew to 565 acres after Laurence Fitzmaurice, who sits of the Mount Grace board of directors, donated the 49-acre Earle Acres property, surrounded entirely by the existing conservation land, to Mount Grace. The Arthur Iversen Conservation Area reflects the Mount Grace belief in the importance of balance and the strength of a diversity approach to conservation ethics, for both managed woodlands and wild lands.

“Climate change is a real threat to our community and way of life,” explained Mount Grace Deputy Director Emma Ellsworth. “These two land owners recognized their personal capacity to make real change by partnering with Mount Grace and conserving their land for the benefit of everyone.”

Just this year, the trust opened its second wheelchair-accessible trail at the Eagle Reserve Conservation Area in Royalston — called the David H. Small Community Nature Trail. The wetland is home to many threatened wildlife species including bald eagles, pied-billed grebes and ebony boghaunter dragonflies.

“We are working to make sure everyone in our region, from families with young children in strollers to people using a wheelchair or cane, can experience the abundant wildlife on this beautiful property,” said KimLynn Nguyen, stewardship manager at Mount Grace.

Also in 2019, Mount Grace embarked on a fundraising campaign to protect Chuck and Livvy Tarleton’s Sunset View Farm in Winchendon to ensure the roadside farm and fields will remain active farmland. More than 200 donors contributed to the campaign, participating in house parties, bake sales and other events.

“Unlike many other places, this region still has opportunities to protect large intact woodlands, family farms, clean, cold water streams and a rural way of life,” said Leigh Youngblood, Mount Grace’s executive director. “I encourage everyone who is interested in joining this crucial effort to help meet our $150,000 fundraising goal.”

Interested parties can donate online at or by mailing a check to Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust at 1461 Old Keene Road, Athol, MA 01331

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.

Author: Going Green

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