Resource Management Plan
Mount Watatic Reservation
Towns of Ashburnham and Ashby
Division of State Parks and Recreation
Mount Watatic, with an elevation of 1832 feet, has long been a
popular destination for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who
wish to experience the scenic views that are afforded in all directions
from its summit. The Mid-State Trail and Wapack Trail are both long-distance
hiking trails that traverse the Reservation property. The diversity
of ecological features, including the bald summit, rocky outcrops,
forested slopes, seeps and wet lowlands, abut additional lands managed
by the DCR (a 211-acre block of Ashburnham State Forest) and the
Department of Fish and Game (the 150-acre Watatic Mountain Wildlife
Sanctuary and the 263-acre Ashby Wildlife Management Area). The
abundant wildlife attracts national hiking, birding and conservation
groups to the area. The summit is one of the best places in the
northeast to view the annual hawk migration.
A proposed telecommunications facility on the summit of Mount Watatic
and a proposed residential subdivision at the base of the mountain prompted
the formation of a six-member partnership that resulted in the permanent
protection in July, 2002 of approximately 281 acres of public conservation
land. The partnership includes the Ashby Land Trust, the Ashburnham
Conservation Trust, the Towns of Ashburnham and Ashby, and the Massachusetts
Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Department of
Fish and Game (DFG).
The acquisition would not have been possible without the Campaign for Watatic. Organized by the Ashby Land Trust, this local fundraising effort gathered an astounding $900,000 through donations received from hundreds of individuals, conservation organizations, corporations and foundations. Almost one-third of the funds required for acquisition came from a Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant issued by the National Park Service and administered by the Massachusetts Division of Conservation Services. DCR and DFG acquired a 98% interest in the land, while the two land trusts and two towns acquired the remaining 2% interest, resulting in six partners owning the property.
In order to meet the obligations of the LWCF grant agreement, all partners participated in the organization of a management plan for the property. The Watatic Land Management Committee, composed of a representative and an alternate from each of the six partners, held a series of open committee meetings 2004 – 2006 to discuss management issues and to establish guidelines for partner cooperation and coordinated stewardship. The Management Committee sponsored a public meeting to review the draft plan on April 25, 2007. The DCR Stewardship Council formally adopted the Mount Watatic Reservation Resource Management Plan on January 4, 2008.
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Willard Brook State Forest, Townsend, MA 01469