Open Space Evaluation Criteria

The criteria below are qualifying standards for properties to help determine if the Waltham Land Trust would become actively engaged in their protection, investing the organization’s time and resources.  The metrics for each parcel of open space in Waltham can be found in our Open Space Inventory.

The objective of any land protection project carried out by the WLT should be to provide benefits to Waltham and carry out the mission of the WLT. For a project to qualify, it must meet at least one of the five resource criteria:

Ecological characteristics [E]
  1. Wetland resources: Vernal pools, riverfront, stream, marsh, pond, floodplain, isolated land subject to flooding, wetland buffers
  2. Priority plant communities (defined by MA Natural Heritage Program)
  3. Rare species
  4. Wildlife habitat:
  • Intact natural community
  • Minimal disturbance
  • Rare native habitats
  • Nesting/brooding sites
  • Support landscape ecology functions (e.g. wildlife corridors)
  • Viable size
Geologic features [G]
  1. Cave
  2. Cliff
  3. Large erratic
  4. Ledge
  5. Esker
  6. Kettle hole
  7. Promontory
Historical and cultural significance [H/C]
  1. Significant historic events/person
  2. Historic buildings or remnants
  3. Ancient tree or feature
  4. Working landscape (farm or forest)
  5. Drinking water resource
  6. Reaches under-served populations
Recreational/Educational significance [R/E]
  1. Scenic views
  2. Trail systems
  3. Waterways
  4. Contains areas currently used/ or with potential for:
  • Environmental or cultural history education
  • Classroom extension
  • Scientific research
Connectivity [C]
  1. Links already protected areas (including playground, school, conservation land)
  2. Links to significant unprotected open spaces
  3. Near other protected area (if not contiguous)
  4. Provides public access to protected areas
  5. Provide wildlife corridors

To arrive at a numerical "value" of an open space parcel, the Waltham Land Trust's Land Committee studies the parcel and assigns a number between 1 and 3 for each of the five evaluation criteria, to indicate the degree to which the parcel possesses that characteristic. The numbers assigned to the Ecological and Connectivity criteria are then doubled and the 5 numbers associated with the 5 criteria are totaled to give the final score.

For example, the "Indian Ridge" parcel (21 acres behind the Wal-Lex shopping center) was rated as follows:

Ecological [E] - 3
Geologic [G] - 2
Historical/Cultural [H/C] - 1
Recreational/Educational [R/E] - 2
Connectivity [C] - 2
After doubling numbers assigned to [E] and [C], the total score is computed as:

6 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 15