Thousand Acre Brook, which meanders through Athol and Phillipston to reach the Millers River, has long been a conservation focus. Wildlife studies have logged hundreds of species in its watershed, including 108 different birds, and Mount Grace has been helping local families protect land there for years. Our newest partners are Cindy Coppolino and her brother Kevin Schlicke, who have added 58 acres of family land to Phillipston’s Town Forest.
Their project honors the memory of their parents, Robert and Lenore Schlicke, who started a chicken farm on the land in the 1950s. Although their commercial farm didn’t last, the couple kept a small dairy herd on the farm for 15 years while they raised five children on the land. “It really was great to grow up there,” remembers Cindy. “You don’t realize how lucky you are having so much room, and fresh vegetables, and great places to sled and to play.”
The Town Forest, which includes land protected in 2012 when Reggie and Mel Haughton worked with Mount Grace to transfer their land to the Town, has now almost doubled in size. The land, which includes woods, wetlands in Thousand Acre Swamp, and part of the brook, was protected thanks to a unanimous vote at the 2016 Town Meeting—where Phillipston voted to use its Community Preservation Act funds for the project in anticipation of receiving a partial reimbursement from the Massachusetts LAND grant program.
Cindy, who grew up with the Haughton family, credits strong neighborhood ties and a sense of community with making that possible. “Protecting the land was dad’s dream for a long time,” she says, “and I think one of the reasons the Town was unanimous is people remembered him and wanted to vote for his wishes.”