Effort Underway to Expand Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area
Two regional land trusts are collaborating with the Town of Upton to purchase the privately owned Kelly Property on the eastern edge of town. The Kelly Property sits entwined with Upton’s Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area and includes trails, mature forests, wetlands, tributary streams of the Mill River, a vernal pool, and impressive rocky outcrops.
Metacomet Land Trust (MLT), with assistance from Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT), is raising funds to purchase 23 acres of this land. The Town of Upton will purchase the remaining 43 acres with Community Preservation Act Funds. Upton voters approved the use of these funds during a Special Town Meeting in November 2020.
Lisa Mosczynski, President of MLT said, “By purchasing these 66 acres of the Kelly Property, we will build upon land conservation efforts at Peppercorn Hill that began in 1984. Adding to these holdings builds a special natural reserve in Upton that will support wildlife and recreation in the area to benefit the public far into the future.”
Mosczynski added, “If you have visited the trails at the Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area, you may have already walked across and enjoyed the Kelly Property without realizing that it isn’t public land.”
About 1 mile of the hiking trail at Peppercorn Hill crosses the Kelly Property and offers stunning views to the west from a scenic overlook. The Peppercorn Hill trails are part of a 6-mile-long network that spans other areas of protected open space in Upton, Hopkinton, and Milford, including Rockwood Meadows Open Space in Upton and Hopkinton.
“Protecting the Kelly Property will ensure that the surrounding community will always enjoy full access to this expansive trail system,” said Meredith Houghton, Land Protection Specialist at SVT. “SVT is delighted to be part of the effort to safeguard the property.”
MLT has received a $56,500 Conservation Partnership grant toward its purchase from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. SVT has contributed a $45,000 grant it secured from a private foundation, but the two land trusts must raise additional funds for the sale to close.
“We recently launched a campaign to raise the final $28,000, and we will need the support of private individuals for the project to succeed,” Houghton said. “Every contribution, no matter how small, will help us reach this goal.”
Once the two purchases are completed, SVT will be responsible for monitoring the land and ensuring its ecological properties are permanently protected. More information is available at www.svtweb.org/kelly
SVT is a member-supported non-profit organization that works to protect natural areas and farmland for wildlife and people in the 36 communities that surround the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers. SVT, 18 Wolbach Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.
Metacomet Land Trust is a non-profit, tax-exempt conservation organization which preserves natural resources in Upton and 14 other south-central Massachusetts towns. MLT is member supported and depends on an all-volunteer board of directors as well as gifts, memberships, and grants from both public and private sources to achieve its mission. MLT currently owns 556 acres of conservation land and holds conservation restrictions on 352 acres. Properties conserved by Metacomet are located in Bellingham, Blackstone, Franklin, Mendon, Millville, Millbury, Northbridge, Norfolk, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, and Wrentham. MLT, PO Box 231, Franklin, MA 02038