Despite failure to obtain a state grant, Harvard still has a chance to protect the scenic, forested area known as Horse Meadows Knoll, with its rocky outcrops and water views. But the window of opportunity is closing rapidly.
Last November the state rejected the Harvard Conservation Commission’s application for a $397,000 grant toward the purchase of Horse Meadows Knoll, upending the complex funding arrangements that the commission and the Harvard Conservation Trust had put together to acquire the 50-acre parcel on Sherry Road. The conservation groups asked the sellers to extend the existing purchase-and-sale agreement to allow more time to find funding. The sellers agreed, and the groups have a few more weeks to put together the necessary money.
“The Horse Meadows Knoll will be secured, it’s just that someone else will own it,” Conservation Commission Chairman Paul Willard told the Finance Committee at its Feb. 4 meeting. That other party, he told the committee, is the Sudbury Valley Trustees. But both David Outman, executive director of the Harvard Conservation Trust, and Christa Collins, director of land protection for the Sudbury group, said last week that no such agreement had been reached.
Outman did confirm that the Harvard trust had reached out to the Sudbury Valley Trustees to discuss partnering to purchase Horse Meadows Knoll. Likewise, Collins said in a telephone interview, “It would be a wonderful opportunity to partner with the Harvard Conservation Trust.” She described Horse Meadows Knoll as “a beautiful property.” She also said that the Sudbury group’s board planned to meet this week and could discuss the possibility.
The Sudbury Valley Trustees concerns itself with the watershed drained by the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord rivers, which includes the southeastern corner of Harvard where Horse Meadows is located. According to a recent press release, the Sudbury trustees are currently engaged in a crowdfunding effort to purchase the 55-acre Ciesluk Forest in the towns of Clinton and Berlin. Coincidentally, both the Ciesluk Forest and Horse Meadows are habitat for the threatened Blanding’s turtle.