Talbot-Taylor Wildlife Sanctuary

-A A +A

The Talbot-Taylor Wildlife Sanctuary, generously deeded to Brookline in 1981 by Harold and Ruth Taylor, is a 70 acre example of what one man's foresight and dedication can accomplish. When Hal Taylor bought the land in 1958, the forest was much as it is today but there was no 22 acre pond. The pond is the  result  of many  years  of labor,  first  to work through  the long and daunting process of obtaining permits and then tackling the backbreaking tasks of cutting  dead  trees,  digging  the  pond,  and  building the dam itself in 1964. To build the dam, Hal Taylor enlisted the help of the Army Corps of Engineers and an expert from the Soil Conservation Service. All of the work was worth it, as anyone who visits the sanctuary would surely agree. For though Brookline has grown a lot in recent years and the land surrounding the sanctuary is now dotted with homes, the sanctuary itself stands timeless, immune to the ravages of development.  This is more important today than ever, for with the continuing encroachment of man, wildlife desperately needs such refuges as this one.

Hidden away in the woods off Cleveland Hill Road, accessible only by foot, the sanctuary sits in quiet welcome to anyone venturing in along the wooded path from the road. A short walk along the path, which at this time of year is studded with lady slippers, brings you to the pond slumbering at the base of Potation Hill. Ducks and geese swim placidly among flowering lily pads, turtles sun themselves contentedly on logs, and bullfrogs croak mightily along a shoreline laced with mountain laurel.

Standing on shore recently, I watched two blue heron fly in and come to rest not far from me. They remained some time, standing quite still and looking regally about until they had had enough and flew off in unison.  In the early evening a couple of beavers swam not far from shore as though scouting for good trees to use in their next project. There are deer here too, but they are wary enough to stay well hidden in daylight.

The sanctuary, as stipulated in the deed, is monitored by the Conservation Commission, which has certain rights and responsibilities to maintain it. But the commission would be at a loss without the help of Hal Taylor’s grandson, Matthew Sawyer, who lives near the sanctuary, and shoulders much of the responsibility of monitoring and maintaining it. He keeps the dam clear of brush and ensures that the spillway remains open. He also maintains several wood duck boxes and when he can find it, brings poplar to the beaver in the winter. Matthew, who inherited his grandfather's love for this beautiful wilderness, hopes that the sanctuary will continue to fulfill its educational and recreational purpose, without any impairment to the land or discouragement to wildlife.

Walking around the sanctuary is a peaceful way to spend an afternoon, in any season. Don't forget a camera. This is one of the loveliest spots in Brookline.

(From Our Place, July 1994)


Sanctuary Rules

Brookline residents are welcome to canoe, fish, hike, and picnic in the sanctuary in daylight hours. They are requested to observe the following rules:

  • No hunting, trapping, or molesting of wildlife.
  • No motorized vehicles or boats.
  • No walking on adjoining private property.
  • No accessing the pond via private driveways.
  • No overnight camping or open fires.
  • No cutting or injuring of trees.
  • No loud noises of any hind, nuisance creation, or lawbreaking.