Ashby Land Trust September 25, 2010
The Ashby Land Trust has been focused on three initiatives since our last Annual Meeting: land conservation, organizational development, and monitoring. Thank you to the subcommittee members and others who have worked on and contributed to each of these important efforts. We will focus on land conservation and organizational development in this article. Please look for the monitoring committee’s report on page 4.
In late 2009, the Land Trust assisted the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) with acquiring several small parcels on Fort Hill Road to add to the Willard Brook State Forest. The acquisition continues the very successful partnership between the Ashby Land Trust and DCR to conserve land in Ashby. The parcels were in tax title and being auctioned by the Town of Ashby. Within the 30 day period between the notice and the auction, the Ashby Land Trust inspected the property, allocated funds, attended the auction and purchased the deeds. It took the State another eight months to complete its side of the paperwork in order to take possession. Without the help of the ALT, this land would not have been added to Willard Brook.
In early 2010, the Land Trust assisted the Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) and the North County Land Trust (NCLT) to conserve four properties in Fitchburg and Ashby as part of closing out a round of Forest Legacy projects known as the Southern Monadnock Plateau (SMP), Phase I. Two of the properties are along the boundary between Ashby and Fitchburg, one is on Piper Road, and one is on Frost Road. Upon closing, the Town of Ashby will own the property on Frost Road, the other three parcels will remain in private ownership, and all are protected by conservation restrictions. A total of 125 acres was conserved, 70 of which are in Ashby.
The Land Trust continues to assist the NRWA and NCLT with Forest Legacy projects in Ashby that are part of the funded SMP, Phase II as well as supporting the SMP, Phase III application process. The vast majority of parcels preserved under the Forest Legacy program will remain in private ownership, with development restrictions in place. These projects are quite complex and involve coordination between many players. We’d especially like to thank Al Futterman from NRWA, and Janet Morrison from NCLT, for their efforts.
In March 2010, we applied to the Open Space Institute, Inc. for a $15,000 grant targeted for Land Trust Accreditation. We are pleased to be one of 15 Massachusetts land trusts to be awarded this grant. The purpose of the funding is to provide the necessary resources and support to enable more Massachusetts land trusts to become accredited. The money will be used mainly for legal, financial and logistical expertise, but also for improved storage for important records, and other tools necessary to our work. A requirement of the funding is continued on page 4 that we apply for accreditation within three years. The Board is confident that we are in a position to accomplish this goal.
Over the last 10 years the land conservation movement has grown significantly through local and regional land trusts such as ours. It has become increasingly clear that some form of self-regulation would be wise, and so the Land Trust Alliance began establishing criteria for professional certification. To date 105 land conservation organizations have completed the self-study and accreditation application process. We have chosen to pursue accreditation for several reasons, one of which is our belief that eventually all land trusts will need to be certified in order to allow landowners to take advantage of the federal benefits offered for land conservation.
Your membership makes it possible for us to continue to fund land preservation projects, alone and in partnership with other organizations. We thank you for your commitment and ask that you invite your friends to join the Ashby Land Trust. We need your help to do the work that we do. Thank you
Two properties were monitored in 2009/2010, the Wiita Conservation Land (commonly referred to as Blood Hill) and South Road Fields. A base line monitoring, including verification and re-marking of boundaries for the Wiita Conservation Land was completed. The 175 plus acres provided a challenge for the four volunteers keeping them trekking around the property for several days. The information has been compiled, including GPS co-ordinates, photographs and boundary descriptions. The final report is in the process of being drafted and should be completed sometime this fall.
South Road Fields property was monitored and a baseline finished. The report is on file.
The Ashby Land Trust holds or co-holds conservation restrictions on four properties in town. One of our responsibilities is to formally walk the borders annually, checking to ensure that the requirements of the restriction are being upheld. The Monitoring Committee is always looking for volunteers to assist in the annual boundary walk of the Ashby Land Trust’s monitoring responsibilities; Blood Hill, South Road Fields, Arnold property and the Morrison property. If you like to tramp around outside, we welcome you to join us!
Monitoring Subcommittee: Bob Leary, Amy Aubertin, Sue Chapman
The mission of the Ashby Land Trust is to preserve the natural resources and rural character of Ashby.