norma's woods

A map shows where “Norma’s Woods” is located in proximity to Oak Knoll in Attleboro.

ATTLEBORO — Mass Audubon has a chance to increase its Oak Knoll acreage by 50 percent, but it’s got a steep hill to climb.

The conservation group needs to raise $375,000 by June to buy a 25-acre parcel off Park Street that is next to the 51 acres it already owns.

Approximately $130,000 of the amount has been raised to date, according to a graph on the Audubon website.

That leaves another $245,000 to go.

The Audubon property at 1417 Park St., formally known as Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary, would then be close to creating a contiguous strip of almost 300 acres of conservation land controlled by Audubon or owned by the city.

The 25-acre parcel is owned by the estate of the late Norma Dorrance, who hoped to see it become part of the Audubon property one day.

Dorrance signed a one-year option for Mass Audubon to buy the property just before she died in July of last year at the age of 88.

The option runs out in June.

“We have before us a remarkable chance to not only honor Mrs. Dorrance’s wish… but also to expand our capacity to engage more visitors on a much larger sanctuary…” sanctuary director Lauren Gordon said in an emailed statement. “But facing a June fundraising deadline, we really need the support now of Mass Audubon members and the greater Attleboro community to turn this important opportunity into a real conservation success.”

Dorrance’s land is just north of the Oak Knoll center on Park Street and just south of the city’s Handy Street conservation area. That, in turn, is south of Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary, which is controlled by Mass Audubon.

If the purchase is made it would leave Mass Audubon just a parcel away from creating a 275-acre open space corridor running north and south to the west of Park Street from LaSalette Shrine to Briggs Corner, or a distance of about 1.7 miles.

For more information or to donate go to www.massaudubon.org/dorrance .

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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