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New Lake Monomonac Partnership Begins with North County Land Trust

Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2023
— News

WINCHENDON – Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust and North County Land Trust (NCLT) have joined forces with local residents to protect 200+ acres of forest at the southern reaches of Lake Monomonac. The distinctive 700-acre lake is formed as the Millers River flows south from the hills of New Hampshire’s Wapack Range to a series of colonial-era dams in Winchendon, MA. 

The construction of over 200 camp lots overlooking the lake had been proposed at one point, which would have dramatically impacted the water quality and scenic beauty of the lake. Conserving this land also helps secure the watershed of both the lake and White’s Mill Pond which then flow into Whitney Pond and the Millers River.

“We’re all connected by water and the forested land that it flows through, and by working together we can protect both, said Emma Ellsworth, Mount Grace Executive Director, “Watershed boundaries are created by mountains, valleys or ridges and rarely fall neatly within city or state lines. This makes the partnerships among our different organizations essential for the conservation of these important regions.”

Mount Grace and NCLT are working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, a local private conservation buyer, town administrators, both the Winchendon Springs Lake Association and the Monomonac Lake Property Owners Association, and many concerned Winchendon and New Hampshire residents. The ultimate goal is to create a new 200+ acre conservation area equipped with trails for the benefit of the greater Winchendon community.

“This is a multi-faceted project that requires the cooperation, understanding and effort from the whole community,” said NCLT Executive Director Anna Wilkins, “Of course, Winchendon is a great place for a project like that. NCLT is pleased to partner with Mount Grace to pool our expertise and resources to help lead this land conservation project with the greater Winchendon community.” 

Conserving this land would link the Winchendon Springs Wildlife Management Area to hundreds of acres of forest conserved by the Town of Winchendon. Parts of this landscape are considered crucial habitat by Massachusetts’ Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, so this larger connectivity ensures that species can migrate through diverse habitats to provide greater resilience to climate change.

Renee Tambling, Treasurer for the Winchendon Springs Lake Association and year-round resident is excited about the project saying, “This is going to be great for our community, our lakes, and our river. Not only will we benefit from keeping the land natural now, but it will be that way for future generations. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Lifelong Winchendon resident Marie Urquhart also spoke favorably of the project and partnership:  “How fortunate we are to have Mount Grace and NCLT working collaboratively to protect Lake Monomonac and many acres of forested land around it! Much of my time as a child growing up in Winchendon was spent enjoying these resources, swimming, sailing, hiking, and camping to name a few. I have come to realize over the years how important it is to be a steward for the land. This will take a group effort by many individuals as well as organizations to do this work. Getting involved now will provide great benefit for the future of our region.”

Mount Grace’s Leigh Youngblood Conservation Opportunity Fund was utilized for initial costs, but the permanent conservation of these forested hills, vernal pools, wetlands and river channel on the south end of Lake Monomonac will require broad community support. Mount Grace and NCLT are unified on the goal of ensuring the land is open for recreation and continues to provide critical wildlife habitat for the Millers River headwaters.