HOLDEN, Mass. - The White Oak Land Conservation Society held a grand opening for the Potter Sanctuary on Paxton Road in Holden Sunday afternoon, with families gathering to celebrate the renewed use of the 24-acre land that was long the home of the Worcester Natural History Society and the Nature Training School.
State Rep. Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden) was one of the many visitors who explored the rejuvenated site, with its newly-blazed system of trails and restored lodges.
"This is a great thing that I'm thrilled to be a part of, and I can't wait to see it in full use and to have scouting groups and other people use it." said Ferguson. "It's a wonderful setting, and we can really get a lot of use out of it."
The White Oak Land Conservation Society was created to preserve land as open space in Holden and the surrounding region, and currently manages 465 acres of land. In recent years, members have been raising funds to purchase the Potter Sanctuary property from the EcoTarium and in the Spring of 2011 the organization received a state partnership grant that helped cover half the cost of their campaign.
"And with some foundation help and a lot of help from individuals, we raised enough money to complete the purchase and have money to maintain the place and look after it," said Anthony Costello, White Oak's treasurer.
Located on Route 31 at the Holden/Paxton line, the land is the last part of the former Nature Training School, a summer program attended by hundreds of Holden and Worcester area children from 1946 until the 1980's. Adjacent to the Asnebumskit Reservoir, Potter Sanctuary adds to the current 60-acre parcel known as Porcupine Hill.
White Oak named the Potter Sanctuary after the portion of the camp, which was dedicated in 1961 as the Richard C. Potter Wild Life and Bird Sanctuary, in honor of the camp’s founder and former director of the Worcester Natural History Museum.
"It's wonderful to see this fabulous place preserved, and I'm hoping that we'll be able to do a good job of stewardship," said Robert Lingner, one of the camp's former teachers.
To learn more about White Oak, the Potter Sanctuary and upcoming events, visit its website.