Farmland is disappearing in Massachusetts. We are losing agricultural lands and farming opportunities at an alarming rate. To try to stem the tide of farmland loss, the Mass Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) established the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program in 1979. It was a first-in-the-nation model for many other states. The MDAR website states, “the primary purpose of the APR program is to preserve and protect agricultural land, including designated farmland soils, which are a finite natural resource, from being built upon for non-agricultural purposes or used for any activity detrimental to agriculture, and to maintain APR land values at a level that can be supported by the land’s agricultural uses and potential.”
The APR program works by paying farmers the difference between the full market value of their land and the agricultural value of the land. In that way, the landowner retains ownership of the land, but cannot sell the land for anything but agriculture. The program has worked well. It has protected 800 farms and 68,000 acres in Massachusetts.
Westford has followed the State trend. The 2006 Master Plan states, “From 1985 and 1999, Westford experienced the second greatest loss of agricultural land of any town in Massachusetts.” read more…
WORCESTER, Mass., Jan. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Westford Conservation Trust has been selected as the first beneficiary of the new Coghlin Companies Caring Corporate Citizen (“5C”) program. The program was formally launched in 2016 to further demonstrate Coghlin Companies’ commitment toward encouraging volunteerism and providing financial support to community service and philanthropic organizations that are important to its loyal team of Caring Associates read more……
At this time of year I like to review the reports to Westford Wildlife Watch from the past year. In 2016, fifty-three residents and one elementary school from all over town sent in flora and fauna reports, some monthly, and others only once or twice. Altogether, there were 2123 different reports. That’s a lot of reports from a few dedicated reporters! We now have data going back to 1996, and there have been many changes in that twenty-year time frame. I enter all your data on Excel spreadsheets each month; the reporter’s name, where the animal was seen, how many animals were seen, category of animal (bird, mammal, amphibian, etc.) and whether the animal was an adult or a juvenile. At the end of each year, the data is analyzed and graphed by Westford residents Mau and Maurilio Fernandes, a labor of love for which I am very grateful. It allows us to see population changes for each species over time. Read more…..
Where: Parish Center for the Arts (PCA), 10 Lincoln St, Westford, MA 01886
Guest Speaker: Mike Callahan, Beaver Solutions
Our guest speaker this year will be Western MA based Beaver Solutions founder Mike Callahan. Mike will talk about beaver behavior and biology and the latest in beaver management techniques. Questions from the audience will be encouraged! Come join us to learn more about these amazing creatures and some ideas about working together in resolving beaver/human conflicts.
Business Meeting – A short trust annual business meeting will be held from 7:00-7:30pm. Our guest speaker will follow this brief business meeting. Refreshments will also be served. Hope to see you there!
The tail of a large beaver may be 15 inches long and 6 inches wide. It is covered with leathery scales and sparse, coarse hairs.The beaver’s tail has important uses both in the water and on land. In the water, the animal uses its flexible tail as a four-way rudder.
When diving after being frightened, a beaver loudly slaps the water with its tail; the sound warns all beavers in the vicinity that danger is near, and perhaps serves to frighten potential predators.
On land, the tail acts as a prop when a beaver is sitting or standing upright. It also serves as a counterbalance and support when a beaver is walking on its hind legs while carrying building materials with its teeth, front legs, and paws. Contrary to common belief, beavers do not use their tails to plaster mud on their dams.
The tail stores fat, and because it is nearly hairless, releases body heat, helping the beaver to regulate its body temperature.