Athol Daily News

Perkins Woodlands protected in perpetuity

Jun. 18, 2020

ROYALSTON — This spring, Richard Perkins donated a conservation restriction (CR) to Mount Grace on 88.3 acres of woods deemed Perkins Woodlands along Neale Road in Royalston, according to a press release from the New England Forestry Foundation and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. He then donated the property itself to the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF). Mr. Perkin’s generous gift of both a CR and the land will ensure that this woodlot is sustainably managed over time, as it has been for decades. The land itself is bisected by Stockwell Brook, and is nestled between Mount Grace’s Guiney Memorial Forest, Otter River State Forest, and the Birch Hill Dam.

Pink Lady Slipper in bloom during the spring at the Perkins Woodlands in Royalston. Contributed photo

“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 CRs 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 non-profit.” In addition, NEFF is enrolling this woodlot in their new “Pooled Timber Income Fund.” The land will be managed in keeping with NEFF’s green-certified Exemplary Forestry standards and Mr. 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, Mr. 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, de-fragmenting our landscape, growing a healthy forest, and keeping more local wood in our region to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and far-away 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,” added Wells, “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 Mr. 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.”