conservation connections

Regis College Volunteers Improve Trails in Highland Forest

Provided by Joel Angiolillo, Weston Forest and Trail Association
Weston is lucky to have over 90 miles of trails throughout town, and keeping those trails in good order takes work. Weston Forest and Trail Association (WFTA) gracefully tackles the task of maintaining Weston’s trail network by both employing a Trails Manager to work the trails and by coordinating volunteer workdays.

On Thursday, September 27th, WFTA worked with 25 Regis College students, faculty and staff to build 12 water bars on the trails in Highland Forest. Armed with shovels, wheelbarrows, and pick-axes, this hearty crew toiled for over three hours on some of the most impacted trails in Highland Forest.  Water bars direct rainwater off the trails and are essential for protecting trails from erosion. WFTA and the Weston Conservation Commission would like to thank the volunteers from Regis College for sharing their time and muscle to help improve the trails at Highland Forest.

Weston Forest and Trail Association is a volunteer organization formed in 1955 to protect and enhance Weston’s treasured open spaces for everyone’s enjoyment. To learn more, visit and check out our PSA on Weston Media.

If you have a group that would like to volunteer to help Weston’s conservation land, please contact WFTA at

regis college volunteers

With Fall, Comes Bow Hunting Season

Provided by Rachel Hoffman, Weston’s Animal Control Officer, on her Animal Control Corner Blog

Like any regulated hunting, deer hunting is based on extensive studies and is meant to aid in bringing populations to appropriate numbers. Each year, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, with assistance from wildlife biologists, study the number of animals and approve an amount that can be harvested by hunters each season. Without this controlled harvest, the population would rise beyond what could be supported by the habitat and having too many of any population of animal can greatly damage other fauna and flora. 

It is estimated that Weston has approximately 25 deer per square mile.  Wildlife biologists recommend that communities in the MetroWest Boston area should strive for a population of 8 deer per square mile. Harmful effects caused by a high population of deer include overgrazing of plants, which is damaging to wild flora as well as crops and yards. Too many deer can also increase the presence of Lyme disease, which can infect both people and pets alike. Vehicle damage caused by deer/car collisions incurs hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage per year, as well as human injuries, and is almost always fatal to the deer. 

For the last six years, bow hunting has been permitted on select Weston conservation land properties to aid in curbing the overabundance of deer in the community. The only hunting method permitted on Town land is bow hunting. Bow hunting has a significantly shorter range than hunting with a firearm, and arrows are shot from high in the tree stand, down toward the ground at a 20-yard range. Each permitted hunter is required to pass proficiency tests as well as hold a Massachusetts hunting license. Hunting stands are affixed to trees and located well off of the walking paths. 

Walking and recreational uses of conservation land will not be disrupted. The hunters are aware that Weston’s trails are heavily used by people and dogs. To alert trail users, signage is placed at the main trailheads where hunting is allowed. Though it is not necessary, some trail users will wear brightly colored clothing or flare, and also their dogs, to help them stand out in the woods.

Several MetroWest Communities including as Framingham, Sudbury, and, Dover have also launched successful hunting programs on their popularly-used conservation lands. 

For more information, see the Deer Management Program web page, which includes a hunting map and an FAQ.

Subscribe to receive notification of the next Animal Control Corner blog post at

25 deer per square mile
It is estimated that there are 25 deer per square mile in Weston. The ideal is 8 deer per square mile for a healthy balance.

Trail Users Leash Their Dogs on the MCRT

As the Mass Central Rail Trail (MCRT) nears completion (no, it's not officially opened yet), please be aware that dogs may use the MCRT only when on a leash. The MCRT is a state park under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which requires that dogs be leashed on the trail. Trails from Weston's Conservation Land intersect the MCRT in a number of locations, and signs have been posted at these intersections reminding people of this rule. When entering or crossing the MCRT, dog walkers will leash their dogs and keep them leashed for the duration of their stay on the MCRT (even for a short while).  As is the case throughout Weston, dog owners/walkers will also scoop their dog’s waste and remove it from the trail rather than leave it on the side of the trail.
The former Mass Central Railroad bed is land owned by the MBTA with an access easement for utilities. A 99-year lease was given to DCR in order to create a rail trail that will eventually extend from Berlin to Waltham. The project in Weston and Wayland initially started as an access road for Eversource to maintain its electric towers within the corridor, but DCR is funding the paving and fencing to formalize the trail. Weston’s portion of the trail, from the Wayland town line to the trestle bridge on the Waltham line, is expected to be fully completed by next year. Currently, crews are installing fencing and should be finished this fall. The portion of the trail from Conant Road to Church Street is expected to be completed after the Conant Road underpass is re-opened in 2019.
To follow the progress of the planning, residents can subscribe to receive email notifications of Committee meeting agendas and minutes and postings of the MCRT — Weston blog at .

leash your dog when on the mcrt

Why You Should Leave the Leaves

Looking for a good excuse to ditch your rake this fall and improve your yard as wildlife habitat at the same time? Removing leaves eliminates vital wildlife habitat. Critters ranging from turtles and toads to birds, mammals and invertebrates rely on leaf litter for food, shelter and nesting material. Many moth and butterfly caterpillars overwinter in fallen leaves before emerging in spring. Fallen leaves also form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own? 

Check out more from this great article provided by the National Wildlife Federation about why you should let your fallen leaves be. 


Drivers, Brake for Moose and Deer

from the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Because fall is the breeding season for both moose and white-tailed deer, MassWildlife reminds motorists to be mindful of increased deer and moose activity, especially during early morning and evening hours. Moose, found in central and western parts of Massachusetts, breed in September and October. White-tailed deer breed from late October to early December.

Moose on the road are especially hazardous. The dark color and height of moose make them difficult to see in low light; moose eyes rarely shine like deer eyes because their eyes are above headlight level. In addition, long legs and heavy top bodies make moose very dangerous to motorists when struck.

Observe road signs for moose and deer crossings and slow down. Do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer because it may lead to more risk and damage than hitting the deer. Moose are less likely to move from the road than deer, so stay alert and brake when you see a moose in or near the road.

Deer and moose/vehicle collisions should be reported to the Environmental Police at 1-800-632-8075. In the event of a deer/vehicle collision, the driver or passengers of the vehicle involved (Mass. residents only) may salvage the deer by bringing it to a MassWildlife Office to be officially tagged.

deer crossing

Connecting the Case Campus to the Weston Reservoir

Within the next 2 years, a new network of trails, pathways, and sidewalks will connect the Case Campus to the Weston Reservoir, crossing the Town’s new Case Estates land located off of Wellesley Street. The Town recently hired the firm Howard Stein Hudson to provide engineering and design services for this much anticipated pedestrian route. The project, which is a joint effort of the Traffic and Sidewalk Committee and the Conservation Commission, started out as two separate visions.

The Traffic and Sidewalk Committee proposed a new sidewalk that would travel from the Weston Reservoir north along Ash Street, with a connector cutting across the southern portion of the Case Estates to Wellesley Street. On the other end, former Board of Selectman Michael Harrity worked with organizers of the Legacy Trail envisioned during Weston's 300th anniversary to establish the Legacy Trail from the Community Center through the northern portion of the Case Estates. The Legacy Trail will end at a viewpoint at the site of the old Case Estates Summer House, and a side trail will run to Wellesley Street and connect with the path heading to the Ash Street sidewalk. When this new network is complete, trail users will be able to start walking at the Community Center and travel to the Weston Reservoir on trails and sidewalks, where they can connect to the well-established trail network surrounding the Reservoir.
The Case Estates is an approximately 62-acre property of historic open land located on both sides of Wellesley Street just south of Alphabet Lane. The landscape features forests, fields, wetlands, and remnants of horticultural gardens along with historic features, such as stone walls and an old stone furnace. Many features of the Case Estates landscape remain from the time when the property was an experimental farm founded by Marion Case and later a regional horticultural center for Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum. In 2006, the Town voted to acquire the Case Estates from Harvard University; however, during the protracted due diligence process, soil test results indicated that significant portions of the Case Estates were contaminated with lead arsenate and other toxic chemicals used as pesticides. Years of debate over the purchase and clean-up of the Case Estates ensued, during which time the property received minimal maintenance. Finally, in the fall of 2015, Harvard began clean-up of the heavily contaminated areas of the property, and the Town finally consummated its purchase of the property on June 8, 2016.

case estates

Like What You See?

Don't miss another Conservation Connections. Subscribe today at

Questions/Comments can be sent to

Powered by CivicSend - A product of CivicPlus