Mount Grace first began working on the conservation of Davenport Pond, which straddles the border of Petersham and Athol, after receiving a 2006 Forest Legacy grant. The successful completion of that project in early 2009 meant that the eastern shore of the pond was protected. Two other shoreline parcels were owned by the Town of Athol and by Aleza Beauvais and Soren Rono.
Beauvais and Rono first met Mount Grace’s land conservation specialist Paul Daniello at a North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership landowner outreach meeting in Phillipston in the spring of 2009 at which long time Mount Grace supporter Bill Rose spoke of his experiences protecting Red Apple Farm and other family land. The couple discussed various possibilities for land conservation with Daniello to see if one would be a good fit.
Beauvais, who teaches at the Gardner Middle School, and Rono, an architect, own 80 acres of land on the Athol side of Davenport Pond. The land is a mix of woods and open fields, with the forested land covered under Chapter 61 and managed according to a forest stewardship plan with oversight from forester Michael Mauri. The couple has now donated a conservation restriction on 66 acres of their land to Mount Grace.
The land includes a vegetable garden and a small orchard with Granny Smith, MacIntosh, Macoun, and Golden Delicious apples as well as pears, plums, and cherries. The couple also raises chicken and goats in a barn on the property.
The pond and the meadow, marsh, and woods around it are habitat for muskrat, mink, beaver, and otter, as well as herons and egrets. Mount Grace Stewardship Biologist Tom Wansleben counted eight heron nests in a rookery on the island in the pond, as well as one on a snag in the water, during his baseline study for the Town of Petersham’s 80-acre conservation restriction in 2008. Rono reports seeing fishers, coyotes, bears and moose around the property.