Choosing What to Conserve

During the past 47 years, the Trust has helped acquire or protect more than 850 acres of land in Harvard. Through the years, decision-making around which land to protect has depended upon the makeup of the Trustees and the opportunities that arose.  The Trust’s land preservation efforts are sometimes in the form of permanently protecting private land by placing a Conservation Restriction on a portion of the land, ensuring that land will never be developed, and will always retain its conservation values. Other times, the Trust has stepped in for land that the town wanted to preserve and acted as the lender, of sorts since the process of securing funding from the Town Meeting form of government takes much longer than the opportunity presented when land comes on the open market. The Trust has also been generously gifted land by residents, sometimes as part of their estate planning. But the Trust also pro-actively pursues land for protection, and that has been the strategy more often used in recent years as the cost of land has dramatically increased. Given limited financial resources, we need to be selective about which land purchases to pursue.

The Trust’s Land Protection Committee has worked deliberately to codify a process for determining the conservation value of land that is under consideration for protection. A two-dimensional matrix uses a point-value system for various attributes that results in an overall score of the value of a particular parcel. Qualities, such as ecological significance, public recreational opportunity, scenic value, project cost, acreage, agricultural value, are all assigned a weighted score that results in a score grade that helps drive decisions about what is worthy of the huge administrative, legal, and fundraising efforts that are required to complete a preservation project.

One characteristic that greatly drives the score is the adjacency, or connectivity to other conservation areas. Our goal is to provide trail connections for public recreation, and larger contiguous permanently protected areas for wildlife habitat and groundwater protection. Harvard has many modest sized conservation areas whose conservation values can be increased by “linkage” to other conservation areas. We have several projects underway to accomplish exactly that goal. We are anxiously working to bring these projects to a close and expand on our mission to compound the value of each protected parcel through these expansions or connections. These connections will provide greater opportunities for expanding our trail network and avoid the fragmentation of habitat that development creates. You can help by contributing to HCT to enable us to cover the expenses associated with the purchases and target more opportunities in the near future.

Thank You and Farewell

HCT Members and Friends,

There is a conservation legacy in Harvard that is important not only for the town, but for the region and the broader conservation community, and it has been a privilege to serve as HCT’s executive director for the past five years.  HCT is a sound and effective organization because of the talent and dedication of thousands of volunteers and members since 1973.  Thank you for the tireless commitment, generosity, and energy that you bring to the ongoing work of protecting and caring for the forests, fields, and farmland of Harvard.  It’s inspiring, a true example of collective effort, and it has made my time with the Trust a pleasure.  I look forward to staying connected with HCT and local conservation efforts in the years ahead, and I wish you continued success in preserving the land and natural resources of Harvard and beyond.

Thank you and farewell,

D.O.

Read open letter from the President

HCT Seeks Next Executive Director

Executive Director – Job Description
Cherished as an asset to the residents of Harvard, MA, and surrounding communities, the Harvard Conservation Trust, HCT, is a private, charitable, non-profit land trust whose mission is “to preserve the unique character and natural resources of Harvard”. Since its inception in 1973, HCT has helped to permanently protect more than 850 acres of land for conservation, through purchase, conservation restriction, and easement. With the full support of its Board of Directors, the Trust seeks an Executive Director to execute the strategic vision of HCT – to preserve natural resources through conservation and to create a fully connected network of protected lands.

To read the full job description follow this LINK.

Application Procedure: Interested individuals should send a cover letter with résumé to president@harvardconservationtrust.org . No phone calls, please. Harvard Conservation Trust is an equal opportunity employer.

Thank You for a Job Well Done

After six years of invaluable, behind the scenes service to the Trust, Julie Weigley has decided that the time has come to fully retire.  It’s the details and routines that make all the difference in keeping a small non-profit moving forward, and Julie has effortlessly kept HCT’s mailings, postings, and records organized and flowing smoothly.  Her even keel and know-how have steadied HCT through three Executive Director and Board President transitions.  We will certainly miss Julie’s gracious and easy-going presence, and cannot thank her enough for a job well done.  On behalf of all the Trustees, past and present– thank you, Julie!  We wish her all the best in this next phase of life.