Mason’s Wolf Rock and surrounding area offered as gift to Conservation Commission

  • Conservation Commission Chair Bob Larochelle stands atop Wolf Rock in Mason. Courtesy photo

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    Wolf Rock in Mason as depicted on a postcard from 1909. The caption read "On this rock, in the early days, a minister was besieged by wolves." Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/27/2019 6:25:43 PM

One of Mason’s most beloved landmarks has been offered to the town as a gift.

Wolf Rock, the center of a local legend, and the surrounding 40 acres has been offered to the town through the Conservation Commission by landowner Walter Valentine.

Mason Conservation Commission member Barbara Devore called the site “one of Mason’s most important landmarks.”

Like any good local legend, the story of Wolf Rock and how it got its name has been blurred over time, and there are several versions. But the core of the story remains the same: In November of 1757, the Rev. Francis Worcester took refuge on the rock overnight after being besieged by wolves while walking home from church services.

He survived the encounter, though the legend varies on how – he alternatively was rescued by neighbors, sprinkled the wolves with tobacco causing them to sneeze and eventually leave him alone, or he sang hymns through the night until he was rescued in the morning.

Whatever the truth may be, it’s become a piece of local lore, Devore said, and being able to permanently conserve the site is only a bonus to adding nearly 40 conserved acres to the town. Especially, she said, as the parcel abuts other conserved portions of town, and would become part of a larger unit of about 200 acres of conservation land.

The parcel is off Scripps Lane, which is a class VI road, and is accessible by walking in from the road.

Another gift offered by Valentine is anticipated to be discussed during Town Meeting on March 16. In a separate agreement, Valentine has offered the town a 72-acre forested lot to be used as a town forest.

By statute, the town must vote on whether to create a town forest. Legally, while the town would still own the land, the management of the property would be delegated to the town’s Forestry Committee or Conservation Commission, not the Select Board, as is the case with other town properties.

The land, located on Wilton Road, abuts already conserved land gifted to the town by prominent resident Bronson Potter, as well as other conserved properties.

“It provides a large block on unfragmented land that’s prime for wildlife,” Devore said. “Large animals need large blocks of habitat, so it will help provide space for species like moose and bear.”

Conserving headwaters

The Conservation Commission is also currently working on a deal to purchase a property, adjacent to Abbott Hill Road, from the heirs of Al Staubel.

Staubel was a long-time resident of Mason, who died last fall, Conservation Commission member Bob Dillberger said in an interview Tuesday. After his death, the Conservation Commission was approached about purchasing and conserving the Abbott Hill Road property.

The property has been offered to the Conservation Commission for $600,000, which is its assessed value.

The Conservation Commission currently plans to pursue state and federal grants to purchase the property.

It’s a prime piece of land for conservation, Dillberger said, because of both its location, which makes it favorable for developers and because it contains the headwaters of Spaulding Brook.

The headwaters flow down into other water bodies, including Lake Potanipo in Brookline and the Nissitissit River.

“Protecting the headwaters is a first step in an overall protection scheme,” Dillberger said. “It will go a long way in protecting that stream and that watershed.”

Dillberger said the Conservation Commission hasn’t made any specific plans for the management of the three properties but said the commission has been interested for some time in creating a sub-committee to create a system of trails in town. These properties, particularly the Staubel property, could be ideal for hiking recreation, he said.

“That’s one of our long-term goals, and this land would play prominently in that plan,” he said. “It’s a prime piece to develop for that purpose.”


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