NATURE (HUMAN AND OTHERWISE)
by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
It’s a big year for anniversaries, at least in the realm of land conservation. Massachusetts Audubon celebrated its 100th birthday this year, as did the National Parks Service. 2016 also marks a milestone for The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), a land trust here in the Bay State that currently oversees 115 properties and well over 25,000 acres. TTOR has the longest history of these three, with 125 years under its belt thus far.
As part of its yearlong celebration, TTOR is offering free admission to its properties on certain holidays this fall. On Veteran’s Day (Friday, November 11th) all veterans, active and retired military, and their families are invited to visit any of TTOR’s properties for free. And on “Green Friday” (November 25, the day after Thanksgiving), admission to all of TTOR’s outdoor properties is free for everyone; free parking too! TTOR is joining REI and other earth-friendly organizations to encourage people to skip the mall on Black Friday, and “Opt Outside” instead.
There are eight TTOR properties on the South Shore so far. These include Two Mile Reservation in Marshfield, The Norris Reservation in Norwell, and The Holmes Reservation in Plymouth, as well as the Lyman Reserve in Plymouth, Wareham and Bourne, World’s End and Weir River Farm in Hingham, and Turkey Hill/Whitney & Thayer Woods in Cohasset and Hingham. Some of these are quite impressive, others more understated, but all are worth your time for a visit, especially if you’re in the mood for a scenic walk.
In addition, there are TTOR properties statewide, from Dune’s Edge campground in Provincetown to Field Farm and Mountain Meadow Reserve in Williamstown. There are six properties on Martha’s Vineyard alone, another on Nantucket, and quite a few on Cape Ann and Cape Cod. No matter where you go in Massachusetts, there is a TTOR property nearby. Some of these nature preserves are on mountains; others are beachfront. There are historic estates with formal gardens, as well as restored and working farms. There’s even a place to view dinosaur footprints! You can locate them all – using various search options – by visiting the TTOR’s website. http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/
The organization that became today’s TTOR got its start around 1890. Charles Eliot, a landscape architect, noticed that the landscape around Boston was quickly transforming from rural to industrial. He saw the virtue of setting aside certain “special places” in the same way the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts – both founded around that time – made books and artworks available to the public. More importantly, these lands would be protected for posterity, to be enjoyed and appreciated by successive generations.
Thanks to Eliot’s campaign, in 1891, Massachusetts Governor William Eustis Russell, signed an act into law that would do just that. The Trustees for Public Reservations was created, for the purpose of “acquiring, holding, arranging, maintaining and opening to the public, under suitable regulations, beautiful and historical places and tracts of land within this Commonwealth.”
The first property acquired (1892) was Virginia Woods in Stoneham, which was later transferred to the Metropolitan District Commission. The places that have been with TTOR the longest are Mount Ann Park in Gloucester and Rocky Narrows in Sherborn, both dating to 1897. Collectively, the 115 properties that TTOR currently maintains represent quite a lot of behind-the scenes effort. Welcoming a piece of land into the fold generally requires years of work – bringing together landowners and funding sources to complete acquisition, and then preparing the property for public use. Not to mention maintaining it! Do yourself a favor and check out one of TTOR’s properties this fall.
Another way to mark The Trustees’ anniversary is to put some mileage on your walking shoes or hiking boots. TTOR’s Hike 125 Challenge encourages you to tour its properties on foot by logging 125 TTOR trail miles through December 31. There is a webpage dedicated to marking your progress, and there will be special prize drawings for different levels of achievements. Plus anyone completing the challenge receives a custom car sticker and bragging rights. For more information, visit http://www.hiketrustees.org/
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 20 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com