Ashby Land Trust April 5, 2008
We had a very busy year in 2007 beginning with the election of three new members to the Board of Directors at our Annual Meeting in March, bringing our Board to a full nine members for the first time. As expected, this has brought new energy and ideas to the table. As the new board members have come up to speed, we have been able to form two new subcommittees to join our ongoing Monitoring subcommittee. One subcommittee is charged with preparing for Land Trust Accreditation and the other focuses on land projects. This has enabled us to accomplish more between Board meetings and to run our monthly meetings more efficiently.
The first goal of the Accreditation subcommittee was to examine the feasibility of applying for accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance. We reviewed the benefits of accreditation and while agreeing that such a process could provide a form of confidence for local contributors, donors, and/ or partners, we felt our relative success and the size of projects we’ve completed to date provide us with much of this perceived benefit already. We chose to hold off on applying for accreditation this year. However, we made a commitment to prepare for the Accreditation process. The committee has begun meeting monthly to review and implement each of the Standards and Practices for Accreditation. This will ensure we are as effective and efficient an organization as is possible, and put us in the position to become accredited in the future.
We made significant progress in land conservation in 2007 on two fronts. First, we have been well represented by board member Bob Leary on the committee that negotiated and agreed to a management plan for Mount Watatic. Highlights of the plan include a restriction on any commercial activity on the vast majority of the property and a commitment to manage for both wildlife habitat and passive recreation. The Ashby Land Trust’s efforts in forming and leading the Campaign for Watatic are highlighted in the opening sections of the management plan and on the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) website – something that we can all be proud of.
The second land conservation project is our joint application for FY09 federal conservation funding through the Forest Legacy program administered by the US Forest Service. The application is titled the “Southern Monadnock Plateau, Phase II” and aims to conserve over 1,800 acres of primarily forested land in Ashby, Ashburnham and New Ipswich by funding conservation restrictions valued at over four million dollars.
This is a significant regional initiative involving numerous organizations and agencies such as DCR, the New England Forestry Foundation, the Nashua River Watershed Association, the North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership, the Ashby Land Trust, the Ashburnham Conservation Trust, and the Towns of Ashby and Ashburnham. The project is also a local initiative with each landowner in Ashby, where approximately 500 acres are located, understanding how their property fits with the others in the application to achieve landscape-scale results.
The Ashby Land Trust assisted DCR in the purchase of the “Joseph” property, a 118 acre tract at the end of Fort Hill Road. The parcel, although heavily logged in recent years, is a welcome addition to Willard Brooke State Park. The 118 acres connects the top of Fort Hill to State land on the south and Vinton Pond and Pearl Brooke to the east. The northern end of the property offers great views to the west and northwest all the way to Mount Watatic.
Over 1000 acres preserved!