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Conservation Gifts Launch a New Decade

In the face of dire news about our climate and declining bird populations, it is wonderful to celebrate two big land conservation victories! Land protection is one of the most critical ways to mitigate climate change impacts on wildlife, and North Quabbin landowners are stepping up to the challenge.

This December, Danny Hillis and Taylor Milsal donated a conservation restriction on 167+ acres in both Winchendon and Rindge with the goal of keeping their property forever wild. The property includes the entirety of Robbins Pond, pristine forests, wetlands, and fields. “Mount Grace designed a conservation plan for our property with designated areas for wildly important re-wilding and farming,” says Milsal. “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.”

Mount Grace created the Arthur Iversen Conservation Area, in Warwick 30 years ago, with another gift of land. This month, the conservation area grew to 565 acres as Laurence Fitzmaurice, who sits on the Board of Directors of Mount Grace, donated, Earleacres, a 49-acre property formerly owned by Larry's aunt Betty Earle and surrounded entirely by the existing conservation land, to Mount Grace. Arthur Iversen Conservation Area now reflects a spectrum of conservation ethics including both managed woodlands and wildlands, reflecting the Mount Grace beliefs in the importance of balance and the strength of a diversity approach.

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

In 2019, Mount Grace embarked on a fundraising campaign to protect Chuck and Livvy Tarleton’s Sunset View Farm in Winchendon to ensure that the roadside farm and abundant fields will remain as active farmland in perpetuity. Over 200 individual donors contributed to complete the campaign participating in house parties, bake sales, and other events bringing the community together around protecting this important neighborhood asset.

This year, the trust also opened its second wheelchair accessible trail at Eagle Reserve Conservation Area in Royalston, a vast wetland home to many threatened species including bald eagles, pied-billed grebes, and ebony boghaunter dragonflies. “We are working to make sure everyone, from families with young children in strollers to people using a wheelchair or cane, can experience the abundant wildlife on this beautiful property,” says KimLynn Nguyen, Stewardship Manager at Mount Grace.

“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,” adds Leigh Youngblood. “I, encourage everyone who is interested in joining this crucial effort to help meet our $150,000 fundraising goal by making a gift online.”