Ashby Land Trust Annual Report January - December 2003

Jeanie Lindquist, President

The Board of Directors of the Ashby Land Trust is pleased to offer this Annual Report to our membership and friends.

This year the work of the Board focused primarily on fundraising to complete the purchase of Mt. Watatic. By December 31 we had paid expenses and repaid $575,000 plus interest on our loans. Only $25,000 remained to complete our financial obligation. The organizational effort to accomplish this goal was huge. We have many more skills and have learned many things that will continue to strengthen the Land Trust. We are also confident that our experience and increased visibility both locally and regionally will serve us well as we continue to protect land.

In spite of the focus on the Campaign for Watatic, the Land Trust also pursued other priorities this year. In the area of community outreach and public education, Bob Leary led a winter hike up Mt. Watatic in January, and we sponsored an information table at the Pumpkin festival in October. In November, Ken Brown, Jeanie Lindquist and Francie Steffian met with students at Ashby Elementary School for an exchange of ideas about land conservation. This was the first of several conversations we will be having with the students, and we were all pleased at their participation.

Our organization and structure continue to mature. This year we successfully underwent our first full audit, and appreciate the impeccable bookkeeping of Treasurer Chris Nash. We received our permanent 501©3 status from the Internal Revenue Service, which means that we were successful in meeting the criteria for a non-profit tax-exempt charitable organization. We opened a brokerage account and have accepted our first gifts of stock.

At the end of the year the Board voted to co-hold a Conservation Restriction with the New England Forestry Foundation on a portion of the William and Vincent Arnold property on New Ipswich Road. This is our fourth Conservation Restriction.

Campaign for Watatic

We include in this report a few highlights of the Campaign for Watatic in 2003. During this year the Campaign reached its highest level of activity and intensity.

  • We organized a team of volunteers to make 150 phone calls in support of a positive vote at the Ashby Special Town Meeting on January 11, 2003. Over 100 people attended the meeting and the vote passed nearly unanimously.

  • We worked with the Ashburnham Conservation Trust to organize volunteers to make phone calls in support of the Ashburnham Town Meeting on May 3, 2003. That vote passed easily also.

  • We wrote, produced, and distributed approximately 3000 copies of a full color Campaign fundraising brochure. The printing was donated by NEBS.

  • Land Trust member Mike McCallum completed and submitted 21 Foundation grant applications. We received funding from twelve.

  • Land Trust member Diane Wright completed and submitted 35 Business applications for funding.

  • Individual solicitations continued throughout the Campaign coordinated by Chair Jeanie Lindquist.

  • We had weekly press contact and coverage throughout the summer.

  • The Campaign conducted nine events during 2003.
    Boulder Coffeehouse fundraiser in Fitchburg on January 11
    Plant Sale – May 25
    Watatic Wine Tasting – June 22
    Community Chant – July 5
    Hike with Author Tom Wessels – July 10
    Poker Run up the mountain – July 12
    Dressage Exhibition – July 26
    Watatic Folk Festival – August 9
    Community Dance with the New England Swing and Soul Orchestra – Sept. 13
    Silent Art Auction – November 23

  • Work began on the design and creation of the donor recognition exhibit and final celebration.

Goals for 2004

For the past five years we have focused on protecting the most visible and threatened aspects of our rural landscape. We have successfully protected open fields and mountain slopes. Our primary goal for this year is to focus on our monitoring and stewardship responsibilities. We will craft a policy for assessing and accepting conservation restrictions, develop our monitoring teams, and document the properties under our protection. This year the Board will also evaluate our land protection priorities and discuss a focus on wetland protection.

A number of our goals carry over from year to year. We have ongoing relationships with a number of landowners who are interested in conserving their land. We look forward to more conversations with students and teachers at Ashby Elementary and to sponsoring more hikes. And we are planning a gala celebration on Mt. Watatic when we complete the installation of our donor recognition exhibit later in the spring.

The Board of Directors thanks you for your part in preserving the rural character of Ashby. The President would like to extend an especially heartfelt Thank you to the Board for all their help and support this year.

The Board of Directors for 2003

  • Jeanie Lindquist - President
  • Roberta Flashman - Vice President
  • Alan Ewald - Secretary
  • Christopher Nash - Treasurer
  • Ken Brown
  • Janet Flinkstrom
  • Bob Leary