Otter Pond in late March, 2020
Brother and sister, Clesson Blake and Ruth (Blake) Cook, were born on Mountain Road in Gill, where they lived for most of their lives, maintaining a small farm and working woodlot. Both were strong proponents of conservation and they left their estates to be used for the benefit of land conservation in Gill. Chief among the projects supported by the Clesson P. Blake Trust and Ruth J. Cook Trust was the 2009 acquisition by the Franklin Land Trust of 173 acres on Hoe Shop Road owned by the estate of Acilio R. Sandri.
After permanently protecting most of the land with a Conservation Restriction held by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Franklin Land Trust gifted 162.5 acres to the Town of Gill. This scenic and ecologically diverse property is now known as the Blake Town Forest of Gill.
Stewardship of the Town Forest has been made possible by the formation of the Gill Town Forest Committee, in collaboration with the Town of Gill’s Conservation Commission. The Committee was awarded a DCR Community Forest Stewardship Implementation Grant in 2016. The grant enabled the Committee to establish and mark the boundaries of the property, to develop and mark trails, and to provide information to the public.
An informational brochure and trail map is available at the kiosk at the main parking area located at 76 Hoe Shop Road. You can also download the brochure/map here: Blake_Town_Forest_Brochure_Trail_Map.pdf