The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 16, 2001


70 acres of "absolutely magnificent" forest to be protected

Those who nurture hope that Carlisle's pastoral landscape can be preserved to a degree through the ongoing residential boom received heartening news this week. While townsfolk were still rejoicing over the recent Benfield gift to the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF), confirmation came of a second extraordinary act of generosity, this time on the part of Janet Lovejoy and her family.

At the February 8 conservation commission meeting, Attorney Ray Lyons announced the first installment of a four-step plan to place approximately 70 acres of predominantly forested uplands under permanent conservation restriction (CR). The initial step will protect 20.2 acres off West Street, abutting the lot that contains the historic Lovejoy colonial residence.

Under the chosen type of CR, the donor continues to own and control the property, while protecting it from future development in perpetuity through a registered deed directive. He or she can also provide for certain specific future construction and/or activity, as is being done in this instance. In addition to the present residence, Lovejoy is reserving two lots for her daughters, should they want to build or sell those portions of the property. As holder of the CR, the New England Forrestry Foundation (NEFF) will monitor, and can legally enforce, the terms of the restriction, no matter who may own the tract in the future.

"Absolutely magnificent" forest

Back in December, ConsCom and CCF members accompanied Lyons, who represents NEFF, on an eye-opening trek through the property. The foundation is a regional organization that has been managing the forest for Lovejoy for many years and will continue to do so as the holder of the CR. This too appears to be good news. The site walkers reported that the foundation's stewardship to date shows what knowledgeable forest management can accomplish. They described the woods as "absolutely magnificent," and announced excitedly the discovery of a mature American Chestnut tree, prized representative of a strain apparently resistant to the disease that decimated the species early in the last century.

NEFF owns 20,000 acres of protected lands in New England, but with land prices skyrocketing, now concentrates on obtaining CRs. They are presently completing their largest-ever conservation easement (the term for a CR in Maine) containing 763,000 acres in that state's northern forests, an aggregate area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

The donor of the West Street CR grew up in Carlisle in the house now known as Orchard Brook Farm on River Road. Her family raised and raced sled dogs as a hobby in the 1930's when almost all winters were snowy here, but sold the dogs during the Second World War and moved to Concord. After her marriage, she returned to Carlisle to raise three daughters, Carol Taylor Quinn of Richmond Virginia, Hilary Taylor and Polly Taylor Hernandez, both of Westford. Following a divorce, she earned a degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge and headed for Newfoundland and later Labrador, as she indicates, to follow a route taken long ago by her mother on a trip with the explorer Sir Phillip Grenfell. Ordained in her first parish in Newfoundland in 1990, she returned to Carlisle in

"a precious wildlife corridor"

Lovejoy admits to a lifelong concern about protecting the land. In a telephone conversation, she talked of hiking out along the Concord River as a child and being overwhelmed even then by the beauty of the forest , the water and the creatures that lived there. "All my life I have felt the world of nature to be a part of me," she explains, "and I have wanted to have the opportunity to give others the same experiences I was lucky enough to have growing up here." She calls what she is completing now a dream come true. "Just walking out on my land and seeing the trees, the animals and the birds makes me infinitely happy at what I am doing," she confides.

The minister is also well aware that her donation is another large step in the protection of "a precious wildlife corridor" from the Concord River, through the Estabrook Woods and along the Spencer Brook watershed. Recent donations by West Street landowners Ben Benfield, the Valentines, and the Rundletts have contributed mightily toward that goal, and it is Lovejoy's hope that their gifts may inspire others to consider similar actions.

Rejoicing at the Lovejoy donation, ConsCom chair Carolyn Kiely said she is "overwhelmed by the continuing generosity of Carlisleans in protecting the land for future generations to enjoy." In a required legal processand the understatement of the yearthe commission declared the CR to be "in the public interest of the town" and officially recommended that the selectmen accept it. This they most gratefully did on

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito