Rick Van de Poll
Department of Environmental Studies
This study involves a 62 acre parcel of property currently under consideration for conservation by the Mount Grace Land Conservation trust, new Salem, Massachusetts. Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of land in the 23 town region of north central Massachusetts. The property under consideration is Bittersweet Farm (62 acres), located in Winchendon, Massachusetts, northwest Worcester County. This paper presents the results of a natural resource inventory on this property conducted in the late winter and early spring 1997. A baseline of ecological information on the farm property was generated and included natural resource base maps profiling cover type, soils hydrological features, topography, and areas of special concern. A winter wildlife survey was conducted on the property to identify the (potential) value of Bittersweet Farm for wildlife habitat. Mid to large sized mammal species (snowshoe hare, gray and red squirrel, coyote, black bear, fisher, log-tailed weasel, white-tailed deer) were noted on the property through track and sign during the five week winter survey period. Two late spring reconnaissance walks searched for amphibian breeding sites (vernal pools) on the property. Spotted salamander egg masses were discovered, suggesting future field work could provide data to include these wetlands under the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act. The potential value of the Bittersweet Farm property for wildlife conservation was also assessed based on cover type and associated habitat features. A suite of species were hypothesized to occur at some time on the property, and a follow up field study is suggested. The proximity of the farm property (with 20 acres of open fields) to a large expanse of conservation and managed lands (4000 acres) increases the value of the farm as an important piece in a regional (wildlife) conservation strategy.