The Shaw property is composed of two tracts of woodland: a 23-acre inholding in Royalston entirely within the Millers River Wildlife Management Area and an extremely rare 81-acre wetland in Winchendon which contains an exemplary northern Atlantic white cedar swamp, one of only two in Massachusetts. Atlantic white cedar was extensively cut after European settlement and are still under pressure today. All four varieties of Atlantic white cedar swamps in the state are imperiled and are state priorities for protection. Northern Atlantic white cedar swamps, which thrive at higher elevations and contain black spruce, tamarack, and other distinctive plant species, are the rarest.
MA Department of Fish and Game
Three generations of Shaws earned a livelihood from family owned woodlands around the north Quabbin. Victoria Shaw, who owned the land from the 1970s to 2010, always insisted in keeping the cedars standing, turning down several offers for the property. “People would come around with plans to buy it,” says Shaw, “the town told them they could put in a road, cut the trees, and put up all kinds of houses, but I said those trees have been around for a long time. They deserve to stay.”
In October of 2009, Mount Grace agreed to pre-acquire both parcels and re-sell them to the MA Department of Fish and Game in fiscal year 2011. The sale, funded by a loan from The Conservation Fund, an Arlington Virginia based foundation, conserved a fragile and extraordinary place that survived into the 21st century largely due to the landowner’s goodwill and personal stewardship ethic.