North County Land Trust Secures Future of Mount Watatic’s South Slope
Watatic South Slope Project: Final Phase Complete!
On September 21, 2022, NCLT joined the Baker-Polito Administration, stakeholders, and state and local officials at the base of Mount Watatic to celebrate the completion of the final phase of our Watatic South Slope project. This public-private partnership conserved more than 200 acres of land in the Towns of Ashby and Ashburnham, including 186 acres pre-acquired by NCLT for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) as part of the 1,036-acre Ashby Wildlife Management Area. The property is centrally located within a network of more than 3,650 acres of conservation land on the New Hampshire border.
DFG acquired the 186 acres of land from the North County Land Trust (NCLT) for $995,000 in July 2022, with half of the funding from state open space bond funds and half from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program. Many will remember that, in January 2021, leveraging private funds, NCLT purchased 201 acres for $1.3 million from the Thomas L. Mikes Family Trust. This included the 186-acre property and 15 acres of adjacent land with an existing farmhouse which we now call our Longview Conservation Area.
With this final phase complete, we look forward to building educational programming with our neighbors at Mass Wildlife and other environmental partners to utilize this special place for hosting opportunities for youth, adults and families to connect with nature.
Mount Watatic is a special place and holds the hearts of many. North County Land Trust could not have achieved this goal without the generosity of key donors, the Fields Pond and Bafflin Foundations, Wharton Trust, hundreds of individuals, and groups such as the Friends of the Wapack Trail, Midstate Trail Committee, Ashburnham Conservation Trust, Ashby Land Trust, and many more.
1/27/21 Update: NCLT Secures Mt. Watatic’s South Slope
We have exciting new to share! Thanks to so many of you, we have made our goal of $300,000 by December 15, the amount needed to close on the property. But we’re not done yet. Our Phase 1 campaign has a total goal of $450,000 which covers our carrying costs and other expenses associated with the project (more than one might realize!). We’re still accepting donations to support these additional costs. While we’re optimistic that we will reach that goal, any help towards that would be much appreciated. We’re seeing donations from $5 to $5,000 come in recently and we appreciate all of them as we know there are so many worthy causes to support. Many hands make light work.
North County Land Trust (NCLT) is mobilizing to save more than 200 acres of the south slope of Mt. Watatic from development.
NCLT has formed a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to conserve this $1.3 million parcel, providing a critical addition to an unfragmented block of natural habitat and completing preservation of the entire summit of the popular Mt. Watatic.
For the project to succeed, NCLT must raise $450,000. We need your help! We have made significant progress towards this goal because of you and so many like you.
Together, we can preserve essential wildlife habitat, provide outdoor recreation and educational opportunities, and continue building the appreciation for nature and conservation that NCLT champions. Partnering with DFG will add a blend of expertise and stewardship priorities for this land that will stand the test of time.
Recreation & Education
Mt. Watatic is an extremely popular recreation destination that draws outdoor enthusiasts from within and beyond the region. NCLT’s commitment will ensure the low-impact outdoor experiences and collaborative environmental education that NCLT values and is known for. There is an old farm house on the property that we envision as an outdoor education hub where we can develop environmental education programs for children and adults. The sheer size of the conserved area makes it a vibrant habitat for local and migrating wildlife and ideal for experiencing nature.
Mt. Watatic’s south side reflects the distinctive landscape of north central Massachusetts, featuring a mix of mature forests, successional growth, pasture, ponds, and wetlands that create a rich and vital biodiversity. The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has designated a portion of the property as a Critical Natural Landscape. Conserving and preserving these acres enhances climate resilience and species habitat, provides clean drinking water, flood protection, keeps our air clean, and provides carbon storage and recycling to mitigate climate change. This land will become part of the existing conservation quilt already blanketing Mt. Watatic. (See map)
NCLT and DFG are acting quickly because this land faces significant threat of subdivision development. This threat is especially urgent today as families migrate to the suburbs in response to COVID-19, creating a spike in demand for housing in this region.
Join the Cause!
The campaign for this specific cause has ended. You can still help us preserve and manage properties like Mt. Watatic’s South Slope by joining or donating to NCLT.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your donation, please contact NCLT Executive Director, Anna Wilkins at Awilkins@northcountylandtrust.org or via her mobile phone: 978-821-0574.
North County Land Trust, Inc. is a 501c(3) non-profit organization. EIN 22-3193109.