History of Orenda

1986: Orenda Wildlife Trust is founded as a land conservation trust by Barbara Birdsey. Orenda’s special focus is preserving open space for wildlife habitat by creating protected wildlife sanctuaries on Cape Cod and elsewhere in New England. Orenda helps to protect 329 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of these sanctuaries:

  • Stickey-Wicket: Marlow, New Hampshire, 325 acres
  • The Ledges: Southbridge, Massachusetts, 4 acres
Baby raccoon in Cape Cod meadow

Photo by Heather Fone

1987: Orenda helps to protect a total of 439 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of this sanctuary:

  • Dana S. Winham Memorial: Marlow, New Hampshire, 110 acres

1988: Orenda expands its work to include the rehabilitation of orphaned and injured wildlife at a clinic in West Barnstable on Cape Cod. Orenda helps to protect a total of 449 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of this sanctuary:

  • The Cedars: West Barnstable, Massachusetts, 10 acres

1992: Orenda helps to protect a total of 552 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of these sanctuaries:

1993: Due to a significant growth in utilization each year, Orenda’s wildlife rehabilitation clinic moves to a larger facility.

1994: Orenda grants its West Barnstable wildlife rehabilitation clinic to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) as funding for the clinic cannot keep pace with the increasing demand for services. Orenda selects HSUS because of the organization’s reputation and demonstrated commitment to the care and protection of wildlife and domestic animals. Orenda helps to protect a total of 598 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of this sanctuary:

1995: Orenda changes its name to Orenda Wildlife Land Trust to reflect its new, more focused mission.
Orenda donates its Stickey-Wicket and Dana S. Winham sanctuaries in New Hampshire to the HSUS Wildlife Land Trust in order to concentrate on land protection on Cape Cod and Massachusetts. Orenda becomes a founding partner of the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge on Cape Cod.

1996: Orenda helps to protect a total of 627 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of these sanctuaries:

Ospreys in process of nest-building at Dowses Beach, Cape Cod

Photo by Heather Fone

1998: Orenda hires its first professional Executive Director to advance its land protection program. Orenda provides the Town of Mashpee with short-term financing assistance in acquiring a six-acre parcel threatened by imminent development in the Bufflehead Bay / Jehu Pond area, enabling the property to be incorporated into the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge. Orenda helps to protect a total of 649 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of these sanctuaries:

1999: Orenda purchases four acres of land in the Santuit Pond area to avoid development and protect the Santuit River watershed, and the property is subsequently sold to the Town of Mashpee as conservation land.

2000: Orenda partners with the Falmouth 300 Committee, a private land trust, and the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts to protect 8 acres of critical wildlife habitat on the Childs River in East Falmouth, providing short-term financing for the property which will ultimately be purchased by the state or the Town of Falmouth. Orenda helps to protect a total of 730 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of these sanctuaries:

2001: In the first quarter of 2001, Orenda partners with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Town of Mashpee, and the Cape Cod Compact of Conservation Trusts to protect 18 acres in Mashpee to protect a critical link within the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge. Orenda also begins a campaign to protect 50 acres of upland wildlife habitat to add to Orenda’s 86 acre Makepeace Sanctuary in Mashpee. Orenda helps to protect a total of nearly 800 acres of land for wildlife habitat with the addition of these sanctuaries.

Orenda partners with The Town of Mashpee Open Space Committee to protect the last remaining stretch of Quashnet River, 2000 feet long and 18 acres in size.   The Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge Partners collectively identified this property as one of the highest priorities for protection in the refuge because of it’s river frontage, continuity with other large tracts of protected open space and fisheries resources (native sea-run brook trout have been reestablished here).

2002: Santuit Pond Sanctuary is created, formerly the  largest contiguous tract of unprotected open space on Cape Cod.  A partnership was formed with the State and the Town of Mashpee. Cape Cod’s Senator Robert O’Leary was the force behind the state’s decision to spend the $3 million at Santuit Pond.  Lindsey Counsell of Barnstable’s Land Bank Committee and David Leveille of Mashpee’s Open Space Land Bank Committee worked many hours to negotiate and complete this project.

Ralph Herbst assumes the role as President of Orenda Wildlife Land Trust replacing Dale Porter.  Mr. Porter stepped down from the position after several exemplary years as leader.

First Back to the Wild Event held at the Wianno Club in Osterville.   Fashion Designer and animal lover Oleg Cassini was the guest speaker for the event that raised funds for the Cape Wildlife Center and Orenda.  Over 200 guests enjoyed dinner, auctions and Monte Carlo entertainment.

Orenda wins National Award for Membership Growth.  Orenda director Ellen Gugel accepts the Allen Morgan Award for Excellence in Membership Development from the Land Trust Alliance.

2003:  Orenda acquires the Red Brook Land parcel in Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge.  Ken Marsters of Mashpee donated his one acre with 300 feet frontage on the stream and thus created a link to acres of protected open space.  It is a great spot to start a walk into the refuge.

2004:  Tom Fudala receives the first annual Orenda’s Founder’s award.  Tom, the Mashpee Town Planner for 19 years and a supporter of open space in one of the fastest growing towns in the state.   Tom has steered Orenda towards opportunities to preserve critical habitat.

2005:  Orenda endorses the partnership of the Barnstable Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy in protecting Sandy Neck and the Great Marsh ecosystem within the town borders of Sandwich and West Barnstable.   More than 300 acres have been preserved.

Orenda honors past president Carl Monge, with the Founders Award at the annual members meeting, held at the Craigville Conference Center. Carl was the President of Orenda from 1992-1999 and still remains an advisor.    The evening was also spent taking in the beautiful views and taking stock of all Orenda has accomplished during the year.

Young red fox, on Cape Cod beach, looking at the camera

Photo by Heather Fone

2006: Orenda celebrates 20 years of wildlife habitat protection.  With the help of generous members and supporters, Orenda has acquired over 300 acres that are preserved as sanctuaries on Cape Cod and in western Massachusetts.  Orenda also holds conservation restrictions on parcels or charitable trust agreements with other land trusts.

Dave Tately assumes leadership of Orenda as Ralph Herbst steps down to pursue other interests.  Dan Morast becomes Vice President and Liz Lewis assumes his former position as Clerk.  Linda Bound is the new administrator as Leah Stapleton leaves for a teaching position.

2007: Barbara and Dave Birdsey (founders of Orenda) are honored as Conservationists of the Year by Harwich Conservation Trust. 

2008: Orenda moves to new location at the Cape Wildlife Center in Cummaquid.  Orenda also starts proceedings to acquire almost 200 acres of land in Western Massachusetts near our Fowler-Ames sanctuary.  By the fall of 2008, a purchase and sale agreement is signed for 20 acres of woodlands held by the family of Tom and Georgia French.  

2010: Fashion Untamed event held at the Wianno Club to raise funds for Orenda and the Cape Wildlife Center.  Over 160 friends of Orenda and the Wildlife Center enjoyed tea and a fashion show.  Mindy Todd of the local NPR station was the mistress of ceremonies.  

Ashumet Pond Sanctuary was rededicated to the memory of Linda Bound, Orenda’s administrator who passed away in February.  Linda’s friends and family attended the ceremony. 

Orenda board members attend the dedication of the Tom and Georgia French Sanctuary in Middlefield, Massachusetts.  A large gathering was hosted by Jan Dicey (daughter of Tom and Georgia French) at a local Bed and Breakfast after the dedication.

The Carl Monge Sanctuary is dedicated in October.  Carl’s widow Ellie attended along with Barbara Birdsey, several state conservation representatives and Orenda board members.  The sanctuary’s former owner Patricia Weeden speaks about the history of the land and her family. 

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