In 1974, several Bolton Residents concerned with land conservation decided to form a non-profit corporation for a variety of educational and conservation purposes. Thus, with Noel Bartsch acting as legal council, Bolton Conservation Associates, Incorporated, was established with Paul Gianas, Robert Held, and Warren Colby as Directors. The corporation was legally chartered under Chapter 180 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
On 26 February 1975, the name of the corporation was legally changed to Bolton Conservation Trust, Incorporated, and wider citizen participation was encouraged. The number of Trustees was expended to nine, including Tom Denney who served as the Trust’s first president.
The Trust was intentionally chartered with a broad range of purposes. This saved the need to alter the charter or to form new, additional organization in the future as needs for the town of Bolton arose. Thus, the Articles of Organization include such purposes as: preservation of water resource, animal and plant life , areas of historical significance, the education of the public concerning the wise use of natural resources and promotion of outdoor passive recreation. Activities involving active recreation (sports) were consciously excluded.
The Trust has received rulings that it is a publicly supported organization, exempt from Federal Income Tax under Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States. We are exempt from State Income Tax and also State Sales tax on purchases through the use of State Account #1008. The Trust has authorization to mail at special bulk third-class rates as a non-profit educational organization and can mail without affixing stamps using Permit #9 at the Bolton Post Office.
Our First Project
The formation of the Trust came at a very fortuitous time. That year, Mrs. Gertrude Anderson found it necessary to dispose of the old house and lime kiln on Great Road that she had lovingly restored and she sought someone who would preserve it. Thus, the Trust embarked upon its first major project, acting as a vehicle to purchase the Anderson property, resell the house to a private party with suitable preservation restrictions written into the deed, and sell the lime quarry and kiln, located on 40 acres of land, to the Town as conservation land. The Trust retained ownership of ten non-contiguous acres known as Rattlesnake Hill.
Since successfully completing that first project, the Trust has engaged in many more. The Trust founded and continues to support continuous, such as the Tom Denney Summer Nature Camp, the Four Winds Nature Program and the Trust Newsletter, while others are a one-time project – although there may be continuing care or obligations.
Accomplishments in the 1990’s
Two notable accomplishments of the Trust in the 1990’s were the preservation of the Nashoba Valley Winery and the revision of the Town of Bolton Farmlands and Open Space Planned Residential Development (FOSPRD) bylaw.
In September 1995, The Nashoba Valley Winery was granted an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The APR permanently preserves as farmland 48 of the most scenic acres in the Town of Bolton. While this project was written off as dead several times by the Bolton Common and the state APR board, a number of Trust directors persevered and prevailed in the end. Not only did the Trust make tremendous effort in terms of person-hours, but also the Trust pledged to raise $185,000 to contribute to the project.
The Town of Bolton has had a FOSPRD bylaw on its books for a number of years. This bylaw is designed to encourage the creation of conservation land when new subdivisions are created by allowing the subdivision developer to build houses on smaller lots in return for placing a permanent conservation restriction on a minimum of one third of the land being developed. Through 1996, this bylaw had only been used in one subdivision in Bolton. Disappointed that the bylaw was being used so infrequently, the Trust decided to look at revisions to the bylaw that would create greater opportunities for its use. After several meetings with various stakeholders in Bolton and reviewing similar bylaws in surrounding communities, the Trust brought three articles before Town Meeting in June 1996. The revisions to the zoning bylaws contained in these articles were:
- The minimum lot size for residential development was increased from 1.5 acres to 80,000 square feet (1.89 acres).
- Developers will henceforth be required to submit a FOSPRD plan in addition to a traditional plan on all new subdivisions. It will be at the discretion of the Planning Board to choose between the plans.
- Several restrictions on FOSPRD developments were loosened in order to make it easier for developers to comply with the bylaw.
After some rancorous floor debate, all three articles were passed by an overwhelming margin.
Accomplishments in the 2000’s
The Trust has continued its success into the twenty-first century. In 2003, the Trust sponsored another APR for the Nicewicz and Schartner farms on West Berlin and Sawyer Roads. In this endeavor the Trust worked cooperatively with the Trust for Public Land for over five years to secure this deal. This included:
- Raising $150,000 in private funding from individuals and foundations
- Negotiating agreements with various members of Nicewicz and Schartner families
- Securing almost $1.7 million in funding from the Town of Bolton
- Securing over $1.7 milling in funding from the Commonweath of Massachusetts APR Program
This deal closed in the first quarter of 2006. The Trust would like to thank both Nicewicz and Schartner families for their patience in waiting for this deal to close and all of the private donors who made this possible.
Major publications produced by the Trust include:
- The Bob Horton Nature Trail, pub. 1980
- The Wild Flower Trail Guide, pub. 1985
- The Trail Guide: 1st issue, 1978; 2nd issue 1991; 3rd issue, 1999
- Six Ways To Save Your Land & Get Value For It, pub. 2003
Copies of these publications can be found in the trust office.