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Autumn Equinox Hiking Spots

Today at 4:02 PM EDT, the season officially changes and our thoughts turn to long hikes that end with steaming mugs of mulled cider. While the Worcester area is still a week or two from peak foliage, it pays to plan ahead. We have prominent stands of maples at Nick’s Woods, Cascade West & Southwick Pond. Happy leaf-peeping!

A Bit of GWLT History: Nick’s Woods

The sign for Nick's Woods with a group of volunteers

On October 4, 1990 & August 27, 2005:

The Greater Worcester Land Trust was formed in 1987 in response to a development boom. One of its guiding documents was the City of Worcester’s “Top Ten List” of critical unprotected properties. List in hand, the members of GWLT’s board of directors met with various landowners. Typically, their responses boiled down to, “if you have a million dollars we can talk, otherwise…”

Nick Chase was an exception.

Nick’s Woods runs along the east side of Grove Street (122A) from the power lines on the northern edge to the timber frame property sign on the southern edge. Mr. Chase had already registered his property as an official “Tree Farm” and had enrolled the forest in a tax incentive program for owners of managed woodlands (Chapter 61). He viewed a conservation restriction that permanently kept the forest, trout brook, cart road, and ancient cellar holes as compatible with his vision for the property. Mr. Chase offered to donate a CR on the majority of his forest jointly to the City of Worcester and GWLT. On October 4th, 1990 GWLT’s first CR was recorded.

In 2005, Mr. Chase approached GWLT with a new proposal for additional forest property that was not covered by the existing CR. While GWLT’s CR protected the forest from development, the land was private property with a number of rights reserved. Mr. Chase asked if GWLT would be interested in purchasing the entirety of the forest for conservation.

CRs cannot be held by a landowner. As GWLT already held a CR on most of the property, they needed another organization to hold its CR in order for GWLT to purchase it. The Green Hill Park Coalition agreed to serve as an interim holder. CR secured, Mr. Chase and GWLT were able to expand and preserve Nick’s Woods as a 59.76-acre public forest.

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