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Harvard Forest Land Protection Effort: The Wilson Project 2003 - 2004

November 1, 2003
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The Issue

Harvard Forest has the largest and most comprehensive records of ecological change and human history for any site in NorthRiley's Field America. In the recent past, rural central Massachusetts has been bypassed by significant development leaving 90% forest cover and low population densities. However, today there has been a greater development pressure and increase in land prices.

The increased development could degrade or destroy the integrity of this land base for significant research.

Harvard Forest's primary goal is to maintain the viability of it forest classroom and laboratory by minimizing the development of lands immediatly abutting it property (note that logging and non-motorized recreation, which currently occur on HF property, are generally not a problem).

The Immediate Threat

Wilson Lot MapIn the adjoining town of Phillipston, where the Forest owns > 200 acres, 100 acres, abutting Harvard Forest property, owned by Don and Bill Wilson has come up for purchase. Harvard Forest is lending its hand to conservation and development issues which are normally addressed by regional and statewide conversation groups. The Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust being one major regional agency. This particular property is especially sensitive because it abuts Prospect Hill tract, which is the most intensively researched area with the most sophisticated and densest array of scientific equipment.

The Goal

The Wilsons, long supporters of Harvard Forest, approached the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust and Harvard Forest to work together to purchase the property of conservation and research purposes as an alternative to development.

Raising funds for land protection is a new venture for the Harvard Forest which has been prompted by the extreme urgency to protect the integrity of the land. Without prompt action and active collaboration between The Mount Grace land Conservation Trust and Harvard Forest, the Wilson property will be sold and developed. The collaboration will also try to gain conservation restrictions on other lands surrounding the forest.

Learn more about The Wilson Project or contribute to this land protection goal. 

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