Forbes Woods Project Reaches Milestones (MA)

Milton, Massachusetts, 1/14/05: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) said today that they have completed the draft Forbes Woods Management Plan for the ongoing stewardship of the Milton, Massachusetts property.

The Milton Land Trust and the Neponset River Watershed Association also announced today that the Heath family has granted a conservation restriction on its abutting 8-acre parcel, ensuring that more than 30 acres of woodland in the Neponset River Estuary are permanently protected.

Forbes Woods, off Marr Crest Drive and Forbes Road on Milton Hill, comprises 24 acres of meadow, former estate gardens, and forest land that includes the Commonwealth’s largest black cherry tree, as well as a champion walnut tree and a historic stand of American beech. During the 2001 legislative session, the state legislature appropriated $3 million for DCR to assume ownership of the parcel as permanently protected open space. The property was transferred to DCR in July of 2002.

As part of the project, DCR and TPL helped develop a management plan for the property. The 85-page plan balances resource protection and public use of the property, while proposing site improvements, including a new trail system, along with programming ideas, maintenance priorities, and a budget for ongoing care of the property.

Because the plan will be supported by a newly-formed citizens group, the Friends of Forbes Woods, public input was critical to the process. After three well-attended public meetings, the Board of Selectmen approved the plan in September and residents endorsed the draft final management plan in October. The newly-formed Friends group met for the first time last evening at Cunningham Hall in Milton.

Highlights of the plan include: development of a trail system, restoration of the formal gardens, providing signage and posted information and providing limited unpaved off-street parking.

TPL Project Manager Nancy Kafka said, “We are excited that the management plan has been completed and that the new Friends of Forbes Woods group is so enthusiastic about the ongoing stewardship of the property. This is a very satisfying outcome to years of work to create this new public park in such a densely populated area.”

The Milton Garden Club will help with the restoration of the formal gardens on the property. Mary Truslow, vice-president of the club, said “The Forbes Woods gardens have historic significance to Milton Hill, and we’re excited about helping with their revitalization. We’re fortunate that the Forbes family has historical documentation to guide us, and we look forward to realizing this exceptional opportunity to apply what we’ve learned from other restorations to help make this a real treasure for the town.”

DCR Commissioner Katherine F. Abbott said, “We are proud that our agency has helped to protect this ecologically significant property, the most important patch of woodland within the entire river corridor. The wooded slopes of Milton Hill offer a very important scenic backdrop to the Neponset River Estuary. Over 100 years ago, Charles Eliot worked hard to establish public commitment aimed at preserving, protecting and enhancing the open lands along the Neponset River. This commitment is now being reaffirmed by a new generation of civic-minded citizens, who worked together to preserve one of the last remaining natural areas along the river. We’re also grateful to all the partners who have worked so hard to develop the management plan for Forbes Woods.”

Ian Cooke, Executive Director of the Neponset River Watershed Association (NepWRA), says “We are grateful to the Commonwealth, the Trust for Public Land, and Mrs. Heath for helping to accomplish a major conservation objective along the Neponset. This patch of old growth woods is a very special place. It’s especially rare to find a piece of land like this just a stone’s throw from Boston and it’s a unique recreational and habitat resource.”

David Queeley, Director for the Trust for Public Land’s new Parks for People program, noted “TPL wants to acknowledge the two conservation successes achieved today. Certainly working with the Commonwealth and great organizations like NepWRA and the Milton Land Trust to protect important landscapes has produced a win for citizens and the environment. But we also want to use the successful model of stewardship this management plan represents throughout Massachusetts for years to come.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 10,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, please contact us at (617) 367-6200 or visit

The Neponset River Watershed Association has been working since 1967 to improve water quality, protect stream flow and water supplies, advocate for fisheries restoration, and help create increased open space and better land use practices in the Neponset watershed. For more information, visit

DCR is the new state agency, formed by the unification of the former Metropolitan District Commissioner (MDC) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), which is responsible for providing the public with safe, clean, and accessible parks and recreation experiences in Massachusetts and for protecting the Commonwealth’s natural, historical and cultural resources for future generations.

Posted 1/14/05