Mount Grace’s latest public conservation area has been established thanks to a Petersham couple participating in the new Massachusetts Conservation Land Tax Credit Program.
The nineteen mostly wooded acres on Petersham's Narrow Lane are a gift of Mick and Louise Huppert. The property, which contains a level bog draining into the Quabbin Reservoir, becomes Mount Grace’s newest conservation area. The East Quabbin Land Trust will also hold a conservation restriction on the property.
“People like Mick and Louise have helped Mount Grace protect nearly 26,000 acres since 1986,” said Mount Grace Executive Director Leigh Youngblood. “Most of the landowners I meet understand that their land has both personal meaning to them and their family and a larger ecological significance that includes clean water, wildlife habitat, and quality of life for their community. Mount Grace works with landowners to find the right conservation option to match their circumstances. With this gift of land to Mount Grace, Louise and Mick have conserved an unusual bog habitat, created a new public conservation area, and demonstrated the usefulness of the new refundable tax credit program to other landowners of the region.”
Surrounded by open water, marshes, and diverse forest stands, the property—which abuts the 3,300-acre Phillipston Wildlife Management Area—provides habitat for moose, bear, otter, fox, and numerous species of turtles, snakes and birds. The wetland portion of the property also includes a quaking bog, where the vegetation mats up and floats on the water thick enough for small animals to walk on.
Protecting the woods and wetlands further buffers a critical habitat for a wide variety of birds and other species. Mount Grace helped conserve 230 nearby acres in 2008 as part of the Quabbin Corridor Connection Forest Legacy Project. The Hupperts have longstanding connections to Mount Grace, and Mick served as President during the Quabbin Corridor Connection project.
The Huppert donation was one of the first to qualify for the new Massachusetts Conservation Land Tax Credit Program, which offers refundable state income tax credits in exchange for donations of land or conservation easements. "Besides helping to expand the wildlife corridor around the Phillipston Wildlife Management Area, being able to make it as a charitable donation with the potential for a tax deduction and credit was attractive. We would urge others who have land to consider investigating this option of conservation for their land," stated Mick. Louise added, "We feel grateful that this program gives us an opportunity to return the land to stewardship for the common good."
Youngblood also focused on the importance of the tax credit for future conservation. “In 2012 the program will operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Mount Grace is actively encouraging interested landowners like the Hupperts to participate. If your land qualifies for the program, you can receive half the appraised value of the land, up to $50,000, as a tax credit which is mailed to you in the form of a check, even if you don’t usually need to file a Massachusetts tax return.”
If you are interested in conserving your land in partnership with the Conservation Land Tax Credit Program, please contact Land Conservation Associate Jen Smith at 978-248-2055 x22 or smith(at)mountgrace.org.
The property will be added to the website's interactive map when it is next revised in August 2012.