Burdin Conservation Restriction Successfully Completed!

Burdin Conservation Restriction (part of the Norcross Hill Conservation Project) Successfully Completed!

We are excited to announce that the Burdin Conservation Restriction (CR) was successfully completed June 12, 2020! The property is owned by Jo-Anne and Danny Burdin and will permanently protect 17 acres of forested land that includes important wildlife habitat. North County Land Trust (NCLT) was proud to partner with Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust to acquire the CR in which North County is the Primary Grantee and Mount Grace is the Secondary Grantee.

Danny has lived on the property, which abuts the Otter River State Forest, for his entire life.  Jo-Anne is a life-long conservationist, serving for many years on the Templeton Conservation Commission and the Millers River Watershed Council.  Their CR was an essential component of the Norcross Hill Conservation Project (NHCP) and their willingness to conserve their land was vital to its success.

The 1.5-million-dollar NHCP project has now protected 509 acres of land in the northern reaches of the Town of Templeton, a region that is a gateway from the densely populated metro Boston area to the expansive, unfragmented forests of northern New England and Canada.  In addition to the Burdin CR, the NHCP includes the fee acquisition by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) of 465 acres of land owned by the Walter E. Fernald Corporation, a nonprofit charitable corporation devoted to serving the needs of the developmentally disabled (formerly known as the “Fernald School”).  This enabled the creation of the new Norcross Hill Wildlife Management Area which is a stunningly beautiful mix of agricultural fields and meadows, forests, streams, wetlands, cart roads and trails.

The third NHCP component is the fee acquisition by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) of 27 acres of land owned by the Town of Templeton. The area is key to protecting Massachusetts biodiversity.  The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has classified 223 acres of the Norcross Hill Conservation Project area as BioMap2 Core Habitat and 25 acres as Critical Natural Landscape. It provides habitat for two Massachusetts listed endangered species – the American Bittern (Endangered) and the Eastern Whip-poor-will (species of concern.)

Jo-Anne and Danny have heard Whip-poor-wills around their land and, on at least one occasion, a bear has been seen strolling around!   They both enjoy watching the spring-time activity on the vernal pool which is located on their property.  The NHCP acreage, which was previously mostly privately owned, will now be open to the public for hunting and passive recreation and Jo-Anne and Danny have given permission for public access on their CR.

The NHCP area directly abuts over 1,400 acres of permanently protected open space owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which in turn abuts 548 acres of the DCR Otter River State Forest to the north and 309 acres of Templeton State Forest to the south.  It also abuts an 80-acre Conservation Restriction held by NCLT. Completion of this project has created a matrix of over 2,800 acres of contiguous, permanently protected land and it is the cornerstone of an ongoing effort to achieve landscape-level connectivity in the southern reaches of the Millers River watershed. It will significantly enhance the resource protection and recreational opportunities currently provided by the existing conservation land and may serve as an important catalyst to encourage additional conservation in the area.

Fifty percent of the funding for the project came from a Massachusetts Landscape Partnership Grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. This grant requires that over 500 contiguous acres of land will be protected and that at least two or more groups jointly submit the application.  The NHCP project required the collaboration of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, North County Land Trust, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, the Town of Templeton and Jo-Anne and Danny. Additional funding was also provided by Fields Pond Foundation, William P. Wharton Trust and the Bafflin Foundation.