As Hopkinton residents continue to see their hometown’s commercial development grow, the members of the Hopkinton Area Land Trust (HALT) continue to make certain the town’s beautiful, open space properties are preserved, protected and conserved for everyone to enjoy now and in the future.
The nonprofit organization began nearly 25 years ago when a group of five Hopkinton residents sat around co-founder David Goldman’s kitchen table to discuss a vision that would protect the town’s open space as well as provide passive recreation activities for the community.
Today, that vision has come full circle with HALT overseeing more than 1,000 acres of land containing 15 miles of trails throughout the town.
Incoming HALT president Morrie Gasser explained that the nonprofit organization doesn’t purchase land, but instead land is either donated by a landowner, or the landowner grants the Land Trust a conservation restriction on his or her property but also retains possession of it. In either scenario, HALT is responsible for preserving and maintaining the land and its trails.
“Any land owner who wants to preserve their land can come to us and ask for a restriction and their land will be preserved forever, plus they receive a tax deduction,” stated Gasser.
In total, HALT oversees 21 properties, including Braim Farm, Center Trail, Eagle Farms, Deneen Conservation Area, Hopkinton Meadows and Peloquin Woods, among many others.
The organization just launched a new, updated website that includes details about each property, including locations as well as which properties permit passive recreation activities such as biking, cross country skiing, hiking, horseback riding and sightseeing.
HALT inspects its properties at least once each year, typically done by land stewards, who are local volunteers and who have an interest in the conservation of the property.
“They make certain the land is retaining its character, that there’s no encroachment, or nothing impeding the trail such as a fallen tree,” explained Gasser.
Another helpful resource has been the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, who have completed numerous Eagle Scout and Gold Award projects on the properties, including new signage, trail clearing and bridge refurbishment.
“I’d say there’s been a couple dozen completed so far,” said vice president Barry Rosenbloom.
The success of the organization is built on its volunteers and its membership, which both Rosenbloom and Gasser hope will increase.
On Sept. 25, HALT is holding its annual meeting at HCAM studios (77 Main St.) starting at 7 p.m. (attendees are advised to be there by 6:45). The community is encouraged to attend and learn about the organization’s mission and accomplishments from the past year, as well as meet HALT’s board of directors.