Massachusetts has a long history of preserving land for public use. As early as the 1630s, the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed ordinances ensuring continued public access to tidelands and great ponds for hunting, fishing and navigating.
Two hundred years later, following the near-devastation of Commonwealth forests for farming and industry, the state authorized the creation of the first public forest reservation at Mount Greylock.
Today, The Nature Conservancy supports policy initiatives such as America’s Great Outdoors and urges a permanent commitment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Of course, the Conservancy also has a long history of working with local, state and federal entities to establish and expand popular and iconic American places. While the sites below represent only a fraction of our projects in Massachusetts, we hope these highlights will inspire you to explore and protect our great outdoors.
After all, this land is your land.
About 90 miles of America’s longest footpath runs through the ridges and valleys of the Berkshires. The Nature Conservancy is helping to keep the Appalachian Trail and its surrounding forests in top condition for day trippers and through-hikers alike. We worked with the state of Massachusetts to designate several key points along the Trail — including Mt. Everett and Mt. Greylock — as forest reserves. We’ve also declared war on some of the AT’s unwelcome guests — Japanese barberry, garlic mustard and other invasive plants — through our Weed It Now initiative.
Coursing for more than 410 miles past farms, forests, rural towns and industrial cities, the Connecticut River is a paddler’s dream. At the heart of this river is the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Here, anglers and bald eagles alike compete for fish, and birders are rewarded for their patience and keen ears with views of warblers, egrets and 250 other species of birds. The Conservancy is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to explore ways to release and store water in the river’s many large dams that are more compatible with a river’s natural processes, a win for both people and wildlife.
If your goal is to camp, swim, and cycle all within an hour’s drive of Boston, there are few places better than the pine barrens of Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth. But don’t let the name fool you; this expanse of forest harbors a surprising diversity of plants and wildlife. With the Conservancy’s leadership, expert fire crews have conducted controlled burns in the forest, a practice that maintains the rare barrens habitat and keeps nearby communities safe from wildfires.
On one side, its beach welcomes Piping Plover hatchlings to the world each year. On the other, a vast marsh offers nesting and feeding grounds for diamondback terrapins. In between, miles of hiking trails wind through this six-mile barrier beach peninsula. From strategic land protection to removing large swaths of the invading Phragmites that threaten to choke out native plant life, The Nature Conservancy is a consistent and enduring presence at Sandy Neck.