The Gardner News

Perkins Woodlands in Royalston protected in perpetuity

Jun. 22, 2020

ROYALSTON — This spring, Richard Perkins donated a conservation restriction to Mount Grace on 88.3 acres of woods deemed Perkins Woodlands along Neale Road in Royalston. He then donated the property itself to the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF).

Stockwell Brook is one of the many features to see and enjoy at Perkins Woodlands in Royalston.

Perkin’s gift of both a conservation restriction and the land will ensure that this woodlot is sustainably managed over time, as it has been for decades. The land is bisected by Stockwell Brook and is nestled between Mount Grace’s Guiney Memorial Forest, Otter River State Forest and the Birch Hill Dam.

“As a land trust founded by foresters and committed to protecting the working landscape, Mount Grace practices forestry on the land we own and allows for sustainable forestry in most of the (conservation restrictions) we hold on private land,” said Mount Grace Deputy Director Emma Ellsworth. “This project is unique because the landowner we’ll be working with is NEFF, another nonprofit.”

In addition, NEFF is enrolling this woodlot in its new Pooled Timber Income Fund. The land will be managed in keeping with NEFF’s green-certified Exemplary Forestry standards, and Perkins will receive shares in the fund proportional to the value of the donation of his land. As NEFF manages their portfolio of protected woodlands each year, all the participating donors in the fund will benefit financially, regardless of whether their donated property is harvested that year. In doing so, Perkins and other woodland owners will be participating in a forestry-centered application of what’s otherwise a well-established planned giving tool, and NEFF will continue to carefully and comprehensively manage its diverse woodlands across New England.

“Land conservation is our primary tool to mitigate climate change, and we know our woods have an incredibly important role to play,” said Mount Grace Conservation Director Sarah Wells. “We work closely with our professional consulting forester to develop long-term management plans for the land we own, and we pay close attention to understanding the carbon storage and carbon sequestration implications of the choices we make in our woods.”

Mount Grace tailors different management strategies to balance goals, including protecting wildlife habitat, defragmenting landscape, growing a healthy forest, and keeping more local wood in the region to decrease dependence on fossil fuels and faraway forest products. NEFF’s Exemplary Forestry standards highlight three parallel goals: to “enhance the role forests can play to mitigate climate change, improve wildlife habitat, and grow more and better-quality wood” (

“We are proud to partner with NEFF to protect Perkins Woodlands,” Wells said, “and grateful to Mr. Perkins for his generosity and commitment to conservation.”

“I am so pleased that the Perkins Woodland will now go forward into the long-term future continuing the forest stewardship work that I began a generation ago,” said Perkins. “I chose Mount Grace and the New England Forestry Foundation for my gift because each of them has a long and successful history of protecting our land and recognizing the social, economic and environmental benefits of a healthy forest to the health of our New England communities.”

Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust is a nonprofit organization that benefits the environment, the economy and future generations by protecting significant agricultural, natural and scenic lands, and encouraging land stewardship in northern and central Massachusetts. In under 35 years, Mount Grace has helped to conserve 35,000 acres of open spaces, wildlands, woodlands and farms. Learn more at