Happy 50th Anniversary Chelmsford Land Conservation Trust!
The Land Conservation Trust started in 1961.
The following was submitted by Becky Warren.
It was January 23, 1961 when nine concerned residents sat down together to found a land conservation organization in Chelmsford. They met to discuss one topic – to create a non-profit organization whose goal was to preserve open space in town.
They were concerned because they knew at the annual town meeting in 1936 the people of Chelmsford accepted 7 parcels of land from Martina Gage, including 3 town forests of today and 20 acres abutting Heart Pond. One year later, the voters authorized the selectmen to dispose of the 7 parcels in any way they saw fit. The Heart Pond property was sold and then resold later to be broken up into small lots. Fortunately, there was no interest in purchasing the forests. This demonstrated the need for a way of giving land for town use that would assure the donor it would not be sold or used in a very different way than the donor wanted.
They were concerned also because a building boom in the town was gobbling up land, and they wanted to save whatever they could to retain some of Chelmsford’s natural resources and the rural charm of the town for the benefit of all residents for passive, non-competitive outdoor recreation.
And so, the Chelmsford Land Conservation Trust was founded with Martin K. Bovey, Chairman; Richard L. Monahan, Vice Chairman; Richard T. McDermott, Treasurer; Miriam E. Warren, Secretary; Margaret E.R. Mills, Carol A. E. Peterson, The Agreement and Declaration of the Chelmsford Trust was based on the instrument of the Concord Land Conservation Trust formed about a year and a half earlier. The Board of Trustees were all volunteers, and to the present time volunteers still serve on the Board of Directors.
In March 1961, the Trust received the first gift of land when Harriett Bartlett donated 3 ½ acres in the center of Chelmsford. In a letter to the Trust she wrote, “I am giving this piece of land to the Chelmsford Land Conservation Trust to be used as a public park. I hope it can be preserved in its natural state, with appropriate plantings of flowers, shrubs, and trees but without addition of artificial playground or any conspicuous buildings. This land is situated in a prominent position in the center of Chelmsford. Retained as a park in the manner indicated, it will add beauty and dignity to the town and will offer rest and pleasure to its citizens. I would like to have it known as Bartlett Park, as a memorial to my family, who loved this land and preserved it as an open space while the town grew up around it for over one hundred years.”
The second gift of land was made in April 1962 with the establishment of the Warren Wildlife Sanctuary by five members of the Warren family in memory of their parents, Arthur M. and Mabel P. Warren. This gift originally was about 8 acres near the Thanksgiving Ground Forest and was enlarged to about 18 acres once boundaries could be determined from old deeds.
In May 1964 Harriett Bartlett donated a second parcel of 10 acres across Acton Road from Bartlett Park to be known as Bartlett Woodlot. She stated “when first owned by my family, this land was used as a cow pasture. It is grown up with trees and makes a pleasant green spot in the center of town. I am glad to know that it will be preserved in its natural state and under the care of the Trust. I hope it will provide enjoyment and refreshment for the citizens of Chelmsford in the future as it has for me and my family in the past.”
In thanking Miss Bartlett for her generous gift, Mr. Bovey remarked, “Even today when there are still great areas of green belt in and around Chelmsford, your two gifts of land are of tremendous worth to the town; fifty years from now they will be priceless.”
The Trust in 2011 will continue to protect and maintain approximately 80 acres of open space in town. We hold nature walks during the year on trails in some of the properties as well as other announced activities. We hope during this anniversary year there will be continuing plus increasing interest in the Land Trust activities. Watch for announcements of our 50th anniversary activities during the year and additional articles on the history of the Trust.
Help to keep us growing. Support the Trust and its work with your membership. Make it YOUR local land trust, too. For more information about the Chelmsford Land Conservation Trust, visit our website at www.clct.org or write us at CLCT, P.O. Box 216, Chelmsford, MA 01824.