Southboro Open Land Foundation

people looking over meadow at sunset

Work Days at Eastbrook Farmlands and Bigelow Wildlife Refuge

Published on May 27, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

On May 24 and May 25, board members and volunteers had work days at Eastbrook Farmlands, improving the street appearance, and Bigelow Wildlife Refuge, weeding and improving the appearance of the property.

Eastbrook Farmlands

Bigelow Wildlife Refuge – We were happy to see Eagle Scout Robby Stewart home for the weekend from Wentworth Institute and his dad Jim, as well as volunteer coordinator Kathryn Korostoff and SOLF Trustee Debbie Costine. Robby did a fine job doing all wetlands permitting requirements as well as reassuring any concerns of abutters. Now a beautiful trail goes down to his observation platform and there is now a native plant garden at the entrance!

Scout Troop 92 Installs Bluebird Boxes at Beals Preserve

Published on May 23, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

Local Scout Troop 92 has taken on a community service project in collaboration with the Southborough Open Land Foundation. (SOLF) Using a design created specifically for bluebirds, the scouts, under the leadership of Kevin Tyson and George Harris, carefully constructed four nest boxes and installed them at Beals Preserve. These boxes will help support the declining populations of bluebirds. SOLF THANKS THE SCOUTS OF TROOP 92!

Recap of SOLF Annual Meeting on May 8, 2024

Published on May 9, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

The Southborough Open Land Foundation’s held its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 8, 2024 at the Community House at 28 Main Street in Southborough. The evening started at 6 pm with light refreshments, followed by Trustee remarks by President Destin Heilman, a presentation on raptor rescue at 7 pm, the presentation of the 2024 Elaine Beals Conservation Award, and a short business meeting.

Destin Heilman talked about Whit Beal’s legacy and the work being done by Kevin and Mike Sanford at Beals Preserve. He also gave an overview of SOLF’s other activities this year, including work at other properties and programming.

Jess Zorge, the founder of Raptor Tales Rescue of Shrewsbury, gave a presentation on her work with raptor rehabilitation. Jess holds both state and federal wildlife rehabilitation and educational permits. Raptor Tales Rescue admits injured and orphaned wildlife from members of the public, as well as State and Federal agencies. RTR has treated over 300 birds of prey since the start of the rescue in 2020. As part of her presentation, she brought Blue, a non-releasable barred owl.

Trustee Debbie Costine presented the 2024 Elaine Beals Conservation Award to Kevin Sanford, a Southborough resident and friend of Whit’s who has transformed Beals Preserve this year – mowing the fields, clearing walls, thinning the woods by the pond, and so much more. Debbie presented the bluebird carved by Ben Keyes, with a plaque reading SOLF 2024 Elaine Beals Conservation Award. Debbie also recognized Mike Sanford, Kevin’s brother, for his work on the pump house and other work at Beals.

Birding walk on April 27 – Beals Preserve

Published on April 28, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

On Saturday, April 27, SOLF hosted a birding walk at Beals Preserve. Eleven people attended the Earth Day Birding Walk at Beals Preserve. Unfortunately the presenter was unable to make it at the last minute, so trustees Sally Watters and Debbie Costine led a walk featuring some property history (like “fox hunts”) as well as some botany and using “Merlin” to identify all the audible birds in the vicinity.

Beals Preserve Maintenance & Restoration

Published on April 4, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

SOLF is undergoing some significant property restoration at the Beals Preserve. This includes the creation of a comprehensive management plan by “Conservation Works” that will include ecological resiliency. Our visitors have already noticed the beginning that has also created some pretty muddy areas in the process! We appreciate your patience!

Recently, Pete Westover from Conservation Works toured the property with Trustees Sally Watters, Debbie Costine, and Eileen Samberg. Also present were Freddie Gillespie Chair of the town’s Open Space Preservation Commission and SOLF Supporter and volunteer Kevin Sanford.

Left to right: Pete, Sally, Eileen, Freddie and Kevin.
Photo by Debbie Costine

Work at Bigelow Wildlife Refuge

Published on March 11, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

This past Saturday, March 9, 2024, SOLF volunteers Kathryn Korostoff and Laurie Guertin joined trustees Lawrence Spezzano and Debbie Costine with some maintenance work at the Bigelow Preserve at the end of Bigelow Road. A large part of the work involved removing quite an excess of bittersweet vines and fallen branches.

On Saturday, March 16, SOLF Volunteers Kathryn Korostoff and Hannah Hayes joined trustee Debbie Costine to continue invasive vine removal at the property.

Upper left: Laurie and Lawrence return from assessing the necessary work. The viewing platform built by Eagle Scout Robby Stewart is in the background. Upper right: Lawrence pulling vines from a tree. Laurie working in the background. Lower left: Long time volunteer, Kathryn Korostoff cuts and tugs. Lower right: Trustee, Debbie Costine wallowed in the leaves and broken branches toward her goal of revealing beautiful moss on old logs.

Riding Ring Circle Reclaimed at Beals Preserve

Published on March 11, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

In the early 1900s, Margaret Leland, daughter of Bostonian Samuel Carr, and her husband Charles Leland owned Chestnut Hill Farm and what is now known as Beals Preserve. The preserve was almost devoid of trees and was pasture land. A riding ring was built for the Leland family for horse riding practice.

The riding ring circle has now been brushed and is walk-able, with the old riding ring fencing and logs to mark the way.

Riding Ring then and now.

Winter 2024 Work at Beals Preserve

Published on February 4, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

SOLF’s Beals Preserve is getting some valuable maintenance done thanks to the generosity of SOLF supporter Kevin Sanford and his brother Mike. Kevin has a long-time love of both the Beals Preserve and the Beals family. He promised his friend Whitney Beals, who died this past September 14 that he would take care of the fall mowing, but his enthusiasm is now providing so much more! Thank you Kevin, so much!

Work has continued all through January and into February, with assistance from some SOLF trustees and Scott Mooney Tree Service. In addition to fields being mowed, some damaged trees were removed, and a significant amount of unsightly brush was removed to reveal the the beautiful stone walls.

Maintenance can take its temporary toll, and there are some sections of the trails with tractor treads and mud. This spring, when the ground has dried out, those areas will be smoothed out and repaired. We realize it can be an inconvenience for now, but please bear with us.

We are working with a view towards positive conservation and land management, and preserving a mix of habitat and levels of growth is best for the area, compared to a single wooded forest.

Rock wall along Old Farm Lane

Old Farm Lane, looking north

Path between the two meadows, looking towards Old Farm Lane

View from Upper Meadow, looking north

SOLF Presents: Nature Columns

Published on January 9, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

SOLF has been publishing a local nature series on Read the columns here.

The Maple Syrup Making Presentation Now Online

Published on January 4, 2024 by Eileen Samberg

Have maple trees? Want to learn how to tap trees and make maple syrup?

On October 25, 2023, Tony Willoughby, an experienced maple syrup maker, gave a presentation on how you can make your own. You can now view the presentation!

The talk was courtesy of the Southborough Open Land Foundation in partnership with the Southborough Library. But it will be held in Cordaville Hall (aka the Senior Center).

Obviously, to actually take advantage of the tips, you have to have a maple tree on your property (or permission from someone who does). But even those who don’t are welcome to learn more about what goes into making syrup.

Tony Willoughby’s talk covered how to identify different maple trees, when and how to tap, boiling techniques, and filtering & bottling.

Beals Preserve Chronolog Project

Published on December 1, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

Announcing our new citizen science tool, Chronolog, a photo stand for our visitors to take pictures from the Upper Meadow (near the Lone Wolf trail) looking north towards Main Street (Route 30). The stand is right by our new beautiful bench built and installed by Cassie Melo for her Eagle Scout project. You, the visitor, take a picture and email it to the Chronolog site, helping to produce a time lapse set of photos all taken from the same spot over time and seasons. Let the fun begin! You will receive a confirmation with a Chronolog link for the Beals Preserve time lapse photos. Learn more at

The Chronolog project is co-sponsored by SOLF and SWCA Environmental Consultants.

SOLF Maintenance at Eastbrook Farmlands

Published on November 4, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

On Saturday, November 4, SOLF Trustees Eileen Samberg, Larry Samberg, Brett Peters, and volunteer Kathryn Korostoff worked near the entrance of SOLF’s Eastbrook Farmlands. SOLF does periodic maintenance of properties even when there are no trails. To improve appearance at the street, the group cleared around the sign, pulled invasive buckthorn, removed entangling grape vines, and cut back a fallen maple. The previous weekend, Trustee Debbie Costine made a good start on the grape vines, which encouraged the group to head back the following weekend.

SWCA Environmental Consultants Volunteer at Bigelow Wildlife Refuge

Published on November 4, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

On October 12, 2023, employees from the SWCA Environmental Consultants office in Southborough volunteered at Bigelow Wildlife Refuge, spreading gravel along the path to the viewing platform. This is the second year that SWCA has volunteered its time! SWCA also sponsors our Chronolog project at Beals Preserve. Thank you, Ariel and group for thinking of us!

Bancroft Children Donate to SOLF

Published on October 20, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

The Bancroft family of Southborough recently showed their support for local causes!

Paxton, Asher, and sister Flora held a sale of gourds, donuts, and cider and decided to give half their profits to SOLF! We were so touched by their interest and generosity that we, the board of trustees invited them to hand over the generous donation of $100.00 in person! Thanks to these thoughtful young people for helping our mission of preserving and protecting open space in town for the benefit of all! [Text from SOLF trustee Deborah Costine.]

Lower left are: Paxton, Asher and a helpful friend, plus little Flora (peeking) – and lower right, at the meeting: SOLF treasurer, Larry Samberg; Paxton with sister Flora, helpful neighbor Maya Nikhil and Asher. On the right is SOLF President, Destin Heilman.

Remembering Whitney Beals

Published on October 19, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

We are sad to share that accomplished conservationist Whit Beals passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, on September 14. His long career included work with the Connecticut DEP, the Roaring Brook Nature Center, the Nature Conservancy in Maryland and Boston, the Town of Wayland, Sudbury Valley Trustees, and the New England Forestry Foundation, from which he retired in 2019. He served as an MLTC Board member from 2011-2021, and was a current member of MLTC’s Conservation Advisory Council. He also served as President of the Southborough Open Land Foundation and was a member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee for over 30 years. He was also the architect behind preservation of his family’s land – Chestnut Hill Farm in Southborough. In addition, Whit recently finalized a donation of 550 acres of beautifully managed forestland in Ashburnham to New England Forestry Foundation’s Pooled Timber Income Fund. The donation ensures the property will continue to be managed for forest products as it has been since 1920 and Whit’s two sons, as the designated beneficiaries, will receive a lifetime income stream from the Fund. Whit’s wisdom, positivity and support will be sorely missed. Arrangements are pending. (Taken from Mass Land Trust Coalition Newsletter.)

Whit’s Obituary from Short & Rowe Funeral Home ©2023

You can read a copy of Whit’s obituary here on our website

or follow this link to Short & Rowe Funeral Home.

Dedication of The Whit Beals Garden at Beals Preserve

Published on September 23, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

On September 23, 2023, Freddie Gillespie, Chair of the Southborough Open Space Preservation Commission, and Sally Watters, Southborough Open Land Foundation Trustee, honored Whitney Beals’ dedication and life passion for open space by renaming the pollination garden at Beals Preserve to The Whit Beals Garden – Biodiversity Through Pollination. Whit devoted much effort in recent years to help make this garden become a reality.

Granite Benches Installed at Beals Preserve

Published on June 15, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

Beals Preserve now has 2 granite benches, in addition to the wood benches built by Cassie Melo for her Eagle Scout project. SOLF trustees Brett Peters arranged for delivery to the property and then prepared the ground and set the legs. Trustees Whit Beals with his trusty tractor, Brett Peters, and Larry Samberg worked to get the benches in place on the legs. One bench is under the tree by the kiosk and the other is by the Pollinator Garden on the Main Street Field side of the property. Well done!

New Benches for Our Visitors at Beals Preserve

Published on May 14, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

Thanks to Cassie Melo and her Eagle Scout project, visitors to The Elaine and Philip Beals Preserve can now take advantage of two beautiful oak benches on which they can relax and enjoy the scenery. Cassie, a member of Troop #823, along with some help from her father, John Melo, built and then on April 9 transported the two benches to the Beals Preserve Main Street parking lot. Trustee Whit Beals and his gator transported the benches to the placement sites. One of the benches is across from the Lone Wolf Trail entrance in the Upper Meadow. The second is along the Riding Ring Trail, on the right, under some pine trees. Congratulations to Cassie on a job well done!

The first set of pictures was a walk with Cassie to determine placement in the Upper Meadow.

April 9, 2023 – Installation Day.

Al Bezanson Receives Elaine Beals Conservation Award at the Annual Meeting

Published on May 12, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

Southborough Open Land Foundation had its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 10 at the Community House at 28 Main Street in Southborough. The evening started at 6 pm with light refreshments, followed at 7 pm with Trustee introductions and remarks, the presentation of the 2023 Elaine Beals Conservation Award to Al Bezanson, and a program by Trustee Debbie Costine entitled, “A Virtual Walk in the Woods.”

Allan Bezanson, long-time Southborough resident, and native of Northborough, has, since his retirement, had a big impact on preservation; first in devoting hundreds of hours to saving the historic Burnett property and since then sharing his stunning photos of beautiful natural sights from Great Blue Herons, to goldfinches to ponds with amazing reflections. It is when we love and appreciate something that we will work to preserve it. [Presentation by Debbie Costine]

Allan Bezanson and Debbie Costine

Dark Skies Initiative

Published on January 12, 2023 by Eileen Samberg

Light pollution is an ever growing problem as land is continuously developed. Without an eye towards the future, open land conservation, and responsible lighting choices, we’ll lose what little we have left on the planet for truly dark skies.

Visit our page under Resources to learn about the Dark Skies initiative in Southborough.