In 1969 the environmental movement was really gaining momentum. National protests over pesticides, oil spills and waterways abuse prompted the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, started the first Earth Day in 1970 and established theEnvironmental Protection Agency in 1971.
Locally, a number of organizations sprung up. In the mid 1960’s, Marion Stoddart of Groton campaigned for the cleanup of the horribly polluted Nashua River, which led to the establishment of the Nashua River Watershed Association. Beaver Brook Association in neighboring Hollis, NH was founded by cousins Hollis Nichols and Jeff Smith. Also, Jeff Smith, along with Pepperell residents Trescott Abele and George Keyes, formed the Nissitissit River Land Trust. Local towns established Conservation Commissions. And in 1969 a small group of determined Pepperell citizens organized the Nashoba Conservation Trust.
The June 1969 minutes of the Trust’s first board meeting tell about the determination of its membership to educate the public on land and environmental protection. Their goals are familiar even today: creating open space, securing conservation easements, working with landowners, mapping, and public hikes. Forty years later, the Trust is still working hard to educate the public, protect wildlife habitat and waterways, and be good stewards of the land.
The first land donation to the Trust came from founding member Mary Haueisen. Her donation of 7.5 acres abutting Gulf Brook ravine was the seed that started the Trust’s land protection movement.
Those first 7.5 acres grew to hundreds of protected acres from Blood’s Brook on Jewett Street, around Heald Pond, and along Gulf Brook
to the Nissitissit River. The Blood, Graves, Dermody, Day, Lorden and Pepperell Springs parcels contributed to a 4- mile long corridor, which was completed in 2004.
In the 1970’s, original board member Erik Stromsted started donating land to the Trust and today the beautiful trails around Mt. Lebanon are a result of his generosity.
In the 1980’s founding member George Keyes donated a 34-acre conservation restriction on his property. This conservation restriction recently evolved into a major acquisition totaling 145 acres thanks to the generosity of the Keyes estate, Paul Matisse, and state funds as well as coordination by the Trust for Public Land with the TOP Conservation Commission and the Nashoba Conservation Trust.
Today Nashoba Conservation Trust manages over 400 acres of land and our projects focus on environmental education; farm, forest and watershed protection; stewardship of existing land; maintenance of trails and signs; and mapping of parcels and updating trail guides.
We are still a volunteer board with 4 officers, and 9 directors. And we always welcome new energy to our organization – there is so much to do!
– Linn Clark