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Forest Legacy Program

Success Stories

"Muschopauge Brook"

Muschopauge Brook during the early spring season.After three years of effort, the push to protect Muschopauge Brook in Rutland and Holden, Massachusetts was finally successful in 2007 with help from the Forest Legacy Program. Surrounded on three sides by protected land, the Muschopauge Brook tract is a key linkage for over 1,000 acres of forest and open space protection in the greater Central Massachusetts area. The Muschopauge Brook is a major tributary of the Quinapoxet Reservoir and a part of the larger Nashua River Watershed. The reservoir is vitally important as a source of drinking water and serves the drinking water needs of oveA tree stump with evidence of beaver activity.r 200,000 people. Development along the Muschopauge Brook would affect the quality of water negatively for the cities of Worcester, Rutland, Holden, and even Boston. These forest lands sustain diverse wildlife with 10 species of warblers as well as many red-eyed vireos, grouse, beavers, deer and moose.

Rutland is one of the fastest-growing towns in the state of Massachusetts, with a 27% increase in population over the last decade. The dramatic development pressure on Muschopauge Brook is very apparent. A local developer already had preliminary plans to build 40 single-family homes in a subdivision on the property. Losing this parcel of land to development would have been a major setback to years of effort by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and Worcester Department of Public Works Water Operations. Both organizations have been working hard to protect watershed areas that are crucial for water supplies. Development would also threaten the movement of wildlife because the land of the Muschopauge Brooke project serves as a corridor between protected lands.

A Conservation Restriction now protects 95 acres and the fee acquisition of 106 acres with stream frontage. Many different organizations at the private, state and federal level partnered together to raise nearly $2 million. Their investment will yield a landscape that supports wildlife and recreation, and Looking upstream Muschopauge Brook.protects a critical public water supply source. With the completion of the MA Central Rail Trail less than half a mile away from Muschopauge Brook, nature and fitness enthusiasts alike can take the trail and visit the brook. With everyone’s support, the Muschopauge Brook is now guaranteed to be permanently protected, primarily for watershed protection purposes.

In addition to the efforts of organizations, individuals were rallying for the protection of Muschopauge Brook. Support letters from 20 individuals including U.S. Senators John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy, and U.S Congressman James P. McGovern were sent to the Forest Service. The partnership of individuals and organizations like the Trust for Public Land, the White Oak Land Conservation Society, the City of Worcester Department of Public Works Water Operation, and the Forest Legacy Program is the reason why the Muschopauge Brook project was such a success. The water quality of surrounding cities is now guaranteed to be safe and recreational opportunities can be easily accessed by the public. Fallen trees on Beaver Pond in the Muschopauge Brook area.The Forest Legacy Program works to identify other projects like the Muschopauge Brook where there is outstanding partnership-driven conservation work. The Forest Legacy Program can then bring in additional expertise and funds to help propel the project forward and meet a successful completion.

Written by Albert Lee
Special thanks to Mike Fleming

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 Last Modified: Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 02:19 PM CST