New Partnership Begins to Protect the Southern Reaches of Lake Monomonac

Views of Lake Monomonac with glimpses of Mt. Monadnock from one of the existing trails.

North County Land Trust (NCLT) and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust have joined forces with local residents to protect 200+ acres of forest at the southern reaches of Lake Monomonac.  Running from the hills of New Hampshire’s Wapack Range, the Millers River flows south to Winchendon, MA, where dams dating back to the colonial era form the distinctive 700-acre Lake Monomonac.

Conserving forestland is especially important to water quality because forests function as natural sponges, collecting rain and releasing it slowly into rivers and lakes.  The forest’s soil filters sediments and other pollutants from the water, producing clean water more cost-effectively than any human-made water treatment system.

The construction of over 200 camp lots overlooking the lake had been proposed at one point, which would have dramatically impacted the water quality and scenic beauty of the lake.  Conserving this land also helps secure the watershed of both the lake and White’s Mill Pond which then flow into Whitney Pond and the Millers River.

Floodplains along the north branch of the Millers River host native grasses and sedges.

We’re all connected by water and the forested lands through which it flows, and by working together we can protect both. Watershed boundaries are created by mountains, valleys or ridges and rarely fall neatly within city or state lines. This makes the partnerships among many organizations essential for the conservation of these important regions.  With NCLT and Mount Grace at the lead, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, a local private conservation buyer, town administrators, both the Winchendon Springs Lake Association and the Monomonac Lake Property Owners Association, and many concerned Winchendon and New Hampshire residents have already joined this effort.

Conserving this land would link the Winchendon Springs Wildlife Management Area, to hundreds of acres of forest conserved by the Town of Winchendon.  Parts of this landscape are considered crucial habitat by Massachusetts’ Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, so this larger connectivity ensures that species can migrate through diverse habitats providing greater resilience to climate change.

The ultimate goal is to create a new 200+ acre conservation area equipped with trails for the benefit of the greater Winchendon community.

Mount Grace’s Leigh Youngblood Conservation Opportunity Fund and NCLT Acquisition Funds were utilized for initial costs, but the permanent conservation of the majority of these forested hills, vernal pools, wetlands and river channel on the south end of Lake Monomonac will require broad community support. NCLT and Mount Grace are unified on the goal of ensuring the land is open for recreation and continues to provide critical wildlife habitat for the Millers River headwaters.

Link to Project Page

Wildlife abound in the Mill Pond just below the lake.