PRINCETON – Summer is in full swing at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary and everyone is welcome.
Originally settled in the 1770s, Wachusett Meadow is an old farmhouse that offers spectacular scenery and is home to abundant wildlife in the woods, wetlands and meadows.
The Crocker family of Fitchburg purchased the property in 1917 and spent summers riding horses and raising cattle, sheep and sheepdogs, until 1956 when they donated nearly 600 acres of land and buildings in Mass Audubon.
The historic buildings and on-site barns are still used for educational programs and the resident sheep graze the pastures as in the past.
The sanctuary has over 12 miles of trails of varying lengths and terrain that provide people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and enjoy nature.
An accessible, ADA-compliant All Persons Trail, approximately 800 meters long, accesses a picnic lodge just behind the Nature Center, stretches through beautiful meadows and ends at an ancient red oak overlooking a beaver marsh. The toilets, parking lot and Wachusett Meadow Nature Center are also accessible.
“Whether you hike Brown Hill to take in the views, visit the nature playground with your kids, or sit on the bench taking in the scenery at Otter Pond, there are a variety of ways to get there. connect with nature this time of year, ”said Jenn Dziejma, Marketing Coordinator, Mass Audubon Central Sanctuaries.
The sanctuary’s trails, washrooms and parking are open year-round and daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is $ 4 for adults and $ 3 for children and seniors with free admission for Mass Audubon members, Princeton residents, EBT card participants and serving military families active.
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“Members of Mass Audubon enjoy free entry to the network of more than 60 wildlife sanctuaries statewide and receive programs, merchandise and other discounts,” said the deputy director of the sanctuary, Cindy Dunn. “For example, members can take advantage of discounts on canoe rentals at Wachusett Meadow from May through October and snowshoe rentals in the winter. Together with our members, Mass Audubon is protecting the land for the people and wildlife of Massachusetts. “
Wachusett Meadow, in conjunction with the Mass Audubon Department of Education, runs year-round online and in-person programs for children and adults of all ages.
Virtual programs are a great way to increase your knowledge and skills no matter where you are, and participants are encouraged to use this new information for their own adventures.
To celebrate the end of the summer season, Mass Audubon will present “Tuning into Summer Night Sounds”, an online program, which will be presented from 7 pm to 8 pm on August 24th.
“Summer evenings in Massachusetts are filled with a seasonal choir,” Dziejma said. “This program will focus on who we hear at night, why and how they create these sounds and who is listening.”
Dziejma says this program will teach participants how to recognize common nighttime sounds “as well as ways to explore, appreciate and protect nature near their homes.” Participants are encouraged to enrich this learning experience with an outdoor adventure of their own to see what they can discover in their own neighborhood.
As summer turns into fall, Wachusett Meadow’s public programs will increase.
Offerings for adults, families and children include bird walks, home schooling programs, yoga at the sanctuary, hours of preschool and nature stories, and more.
“Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for upcoming programs. We will be offering a fern walk for beginners in August and our popular preschool history and nature programs as well as our Sunday morning bird walks will begin in early September. Registration is limited, so we encourage people to register early to reserve a spot, ”said Dziejma.
Wachusett Meadow is also hosting a Sensory Friendly Day on September 22, starting at 10 a.m., for individuals, groups and families who wish to explore the sanctuary at their own pace at a time when sightseeing is generally light and the trails tend to be to shut up.
Staff will be on hand to greet visitors, hand out treasure hunts and answer questions about nature.
Admission to Sensory Friendly Days is free with the support of the Fitchburg Culture Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Culture Council, a state agency.
“The sanctuary honors the property’s agricultural heritage, is home to over 2,000 documented species and offers over 12 miles of well-marked trails for over 10,000 visitors per year,” said Dziejma.
Additionally, Wachusett Meadow works with many area organizations, schools, libraries, senior centers and scout groups to provide nature-based education and awareness for all ages.
“Celebrating 65 years of programs and services, Wachusett Meadow is a true gem in the community of North Central Mass,” she concluded.
Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 113 Goodnow Road in Princeton. For more information, call 978-464-2712; email [email protected]; or follow Mass Audubon Wachusett Meadow on Facebook. To register for classes, visit massaudubon.org/wachusettmeadow.