On December 28, 2012, a Conservation Restriction (“CR”) co-held by Sudbury Valley Trustees and the Town of Westford’s Conservation Commission was recorded, permanently protecting 23 acres in Westford. The O’Brien Farm CR allows for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and passive public recreation via an existing trail network.
Susan Crane, Land Protection Specialist at Sudbury Valley Trustees, reflects the history and the remarkable collaboration this project entailed. “The protection of this beautiful farm, established in 1886, was originally conceived by its 4th generation landowner, Charlie McColough, who generously agreed to provide a conservation restriction to Sudbury Valley Trustees and the Town of Westford at a bargain sale price. In October, Westford Town Meeting approved the appropriation of $760,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for a portion of the project. Two grants totaling $95,000, were approved for full funding – a grant to SVT of $85,000 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Conservation Partnership Grant Program, plus an additional $10,000 grant awarded by the Fields Pond Foundation to our local conservation partner, the Westford Land Preservation Foundation (WLPF). ” The remaining $100,000 was raised privately from neighbors of the farm and other supporters.
O’Brien Farm is a step back into history with an 18th century barn, classic rock walls, and a streetscape reminiscent of the 1880s. Located on “Scenic” Vose Road, it hosts a variety of habitats, including open meadows, forested uplands, a wooded swamp, marshlands, and perennial Pond Brook. Owned by the same family since its 1886 beginnings, it was originally operated as a general farm with animals, vegetables, strawberries, and fruit trees common to the era. It is now actively managed for the benefit of wildlife through a plan with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program, known as WHIP. The farm is noted as a “Land of Conservation Interest” in Westford’s Open Space and Recreation Plan due to its significant ecological, historic, scenic, and recreational values.
Property owner Charlie McColough remarked, “The McColough family is just thrilled that this very special land which we have owned for over 125 years will be preserved forever as an oasis for wildlife and for the town and others to enjoy.”
“We deeply appreciate Charlie for his conservation vision and model stewardship,” said SVT’s Crane. “Many thanks also go to our conservation partner, WLPF, for its invaluable assistance and to SVT members for their generous support of this project.”
Selectman Andrea Peraner-Sweet, President of the Westford Land Preservation Foundation, wrote to all who had been involved, “Our success once again demonstrates what a committed, hardworking group of people can achieve as well as just how important open space is in our Town. We endeavor to be a Town that strives to combine and balance residential and commercial development with the preservation of our open space, our history and our natural habitat.”
Sudbury Valley Trustees, a regional land trust celebrating its 60th anniversary, is dedicated to conserving land and protecting wildlife habitat in the Concord, Assabet and Sudbury river basin which encompasses 36 towns, including Westford. For more information visit svtweb.org.
The public is invited to walk, ski or snowshoe O’Brien Farm’s network of beautiful trails.