Review: 2020 Annual Meeting

For those who may have missed it, the 2020 Annual Meeting was one of the best attended anyone can remember. Nearly 70 individuals joined our Zoom meeting, and all learned something new about how mycorrhizal relationships work, how trees share, and how fungal species establish relationships with plants while avoiding other fungus. We also learned how all of the preceding three statements are all referencing the same wood-wide web! Dr. Susan Goldhor, of the Boston Mycological Club has left us all with a better understanding and appreciation of the many ecological processes taking place right under our feet that we cannot see. Dr. Goldhor recommended two books for those who are interested in learning more: The Hidden Forest and Mycorrhizal Planet. For younger audiences, our Executive Director Brian Colleran also recommends the Trees installment of the Science Comics series. In the meantime however, please enjoy a favorite Ted Talk of Dr. Goldhor’s, or Dr. Goldgor herself in the videos below.

Thank you for making the 2020 Annual Meeting a success!

Annual Meeting

The Harvard Conservation Trust’s Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 18th at 7:00 pm, and we invite you to join us. Our invited speaker this year is President of the Boston Mycological Club, Susan Goldhor. She will speak to us about fungi, conservation, and the ways in which they are related. Ms. Goldhor will begin speaking at about 7:30 pm, following the completion of the required Trust business.

This year’s highlights will include a review of a very busy year in land protection with a video tour of some recent successes, the introduction of HCT’s new Executive Director, Brian Colleran, and a significant change in Board composition. Matt Cronin, David Burney, Shannon Kelley, Lynn Thronton have all agreed to take part in Harvard’s Land Conservation Tradition. We sincerely thank Chris Candon, Tom Cotton, Trish Hurter, & Marc Sevigny who have completed this phase of their contributions to Harvard’s Lands, and we look forward to having them as valuable members of the Trust Community for many years to come.

If you would like to attend this year’s meeting, please register using this link. Once registered, we will send you an agenda for the evening closer to the 18th.

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