Protected Land at Mount Watatic

MassWildlife is pleased to announce the permanent protection of 186 acres of land on the south slope of Mount Watatic. Located in the towns of Ashby and Ashburnham, the new property will be managed by MassWildlife as part of the 1,036-acre Ashby Wildlife Management Area. The property sits at the center of an extensive network of more than 3,650 acres of conservation lands, including the 2,200-acre Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Ashburnham State Forest, MassWildlife’s 280-acre Mount Watatic and 140-acre Watatic Mountain. Sanctuary.

The acquisition benefits people by increasing access to outdoor recreation and preserving wildlife habitat. “It is also important to note that the acquisition of Mount Watatic protects land that is critical for climate change adaptation and resilience. The forested landscape and topography of the property allows for water filtration, carbon sequestration and the ability for local species to migrate to higher elevations,” said Beth Card, Secretary of Energy and Business. environmental.

The Department of Fish and Game acquired the 186 acres of land from the North County Land Trust (NCLT) for $995,000 in July 2022, with half of the funding coming from state open space bond funds and the other half of the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program. . In 2020, with an imminent threat of sale and development of the property, NCLT coordinated fundraising and agreed to pre-acquire the property to give the state time to secure funding sources. In January 2021, 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 farm. NCLT will use the farm property for conservation education programs and will grant MassWildlife a conservation restriction on the 15 acres to prevent further development.

“I would like to thank the North County Land Trust and the people of the area who devoted their time, money and energy to acquiring and permanently protecting this incredible property,” said Department Commissioner Ron Amidon. fishing and hunting. “The property and the region’s largest network of protected open spaces support all types of wildlife and recreational activities, such as fishing, hunting, hiking, and wildlife viewing.”

“The Mikes Trust property was the last major piece of land needed to preserve the integrity of Mount Watatic. The North County Land Trust intended to use all of our resources, tools, partnerships, local relationships and abilities as a private land conservation organization to ensure it was protected at all times,” said Anna Wilkins, executive director of the North County Land Trust. “The dedicated staff at the Fish and Wildlife Division were phenomenal to work with. We are delighted to have seen this achievement come to fruition and look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with the state.

“MassWildlife manages nearly 230,000 acres of land for all wildlife to thrive and everyone to enjoy,” said MassWildlife Director Mark Tisa. “The variety of habitats in this beautiful new addition include mature and young forests, grasslands, ponds and wetlands that are home to deer, wild turkeys, black bears and several species of conservation concern.” Go to mass.gov/wildlife-lands to view all MassWildlife properties.

As part of the Ashby Wildlife Management Area (WMA), the property is now open to the public for passive recreation including fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing and education environmental. The property includes the south summit of Mount Watatic and provides significant and enhanced connections to the Wapack Trail and Mid-State Trail located on the adjoining Mount Watatic Preserve. The Ashby WMZ offers excellent fishing opportunities in the upper reaches of Watatic Pond, Bennetts Creek and the South Arm of the Souhegan River. Hunting opportunities in the WMA include waterfowl, furbearers, deer, wild turkey, and stocked pheasant. The area is also popular with birdwatchers, especially during the hawk migration season from the top of Mount Watatic.

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