GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

HARVARD — The Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT) is thrilled to announce the donation of two separate conservation restrictions by Priscilla Endicott and Erhart Muller.

Endicott has donated a restriction that will preserve over 30 acres, her entire property, on Littleton County Road near the intersection of Oak Hill Road.

The land, which borders land owned by HCT to the north and land owned by the town to the southeast, is comprised of woodlands, fields and wetlands. Without the restriction, the land could likely be subdivided into at least six residential lots.

A conservation restriction preserves land by eliminating or substantially reducing development. It is a way for land owners to protect land from future development but still retain the ability to sell or bequeath it to their heirs.

In this case, Endicott decided that no subdivision will ever be built on this land. This generous gift preserves a key part of the eastern edge of Oak Hill along with its pastoral views, habitat and other natural features.

Endicott has been a longtime advocate of land conservation. A past trustee of HCT, she spearheaded the formation of the Trails Committee and was largely responsible for creating much of the trail network residents enjoy today.

“With this generous gift, Priscilla joins the ranks of truly notable Harvard residents who have set aside their own personal financial gain in favor of a legacy that helps preserve the rural character of our town, which is something we all enjoy and benefit from,” said Victor Normand, HCT president.

The second restriction has been made by Muller for all of his property on Shaker Road.

Muller’s land is an important part of Shaker Village and is located across the road from the Holy Hill conservation area. It also borders land owned by the New England Forestry Foundation.

Like Endicott, Muller has decided that no subdivision will be allowed on his land, which consists of nearly seven acres.

“Erhart is a pillar of the community and has been committed to the town’s well-being for many years,” said Normand. “At 98 years old, he is a longtime conservationist, one of the founders of HCT and now a trustee emeritus. Among his many accomplishments is the instrumental role he played in helping to preserve the Holy Hill conservation area.”

“The selectmen were thrilled with these two gifts and expressed their heartfelt gratitude,” said Dennis Delaney, who helped present the restriction documents to the Board of Selectmen last week on behalf of HCT. “They also recalled the 40-acre restriction gift made earlier this year by Jim Dunlap, noting how truly generous these longtime residents have been and what wonderful examples they have set for us to follow.”

HCT is charged with the perpetual monitoring and, if necessary, legal enforcement of the conservation restrictions against future owners of the properties. It is a charitable organization made up of resident volunteers and is about to celebrate its 35th anniversary. The trust was formed in 1973 as a way to act quickly on land preservation.

Unlike the Conservation Commission, HCT is not part of town government, so it need not wait for Town Meeting before acting on land preservation opportunities and challenges.

As originally conceived, HCT provides up-front funding for land preservation and then is reimbursed by a vote at town meeting. That way, the trust has funds available for the next preservation project that comes along.

However with town spending under increasing pressure and the skyrocketing cost of land over the last 15 years, the trust increasingly relies on private donations and alternative approaches to conservation.