For Immediate Release - January 05, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Partners with Non-Profit Groups to Protect 409 Acres Across the Commonwealth

Over $514,000 in grants awarded to 9 groups in 11 communities

BOSTON – Thursday, January 05, 2012 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. today announced $514,359 in grants to nine nonprofit organizations to preserve 409 acres of open space across Massachusetts.

Awarded through the EEA’s Conservation Partnership Grant Program, these funds help nonprofit organizations leverage funds to purchase land for conservation or recreation. EEA evaluates and selects proposed projects based on their ability to conserve biodiversity, protect water quality, promote recreation, and preserve working farms and forests. Projects this year include properties that enlarge or connect to other conservation land, expand recreational trail networks, protect working farms or preserve important fish and wildlife habitats.

"Conserving more than 88,000 acres of land over the last five years, the Patrick-Murray Administration continues its dedication to protecting clean water, critical habitat and working landscapes throughout the Commonwealth," said Secretary Sullivan. "These grants will help to provide opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy public outdoor spaces while providing long-term protection of valuable natural resources.” 

The awards will fund projects in Barnstable, Barre, Brockton, Holden, Mattapoisett, Paxton, Petersham, Rehoboth, Rutland, Wareham and Worcester.  

The awards are as follows:

  • The Coalition for Buzzards Bay – Town Line Project, Mattapoisett – $80,000 for 64 acres of forested upland and wetland. This project is the final piece in a major, multi-year, multi-town restoration project to protect the former cranberry bogs on the corner of Mattapoisett, Acushnet, and Fairhaven, and 354 acres of open space in the Mattapoisett River Valley. The area has been designated by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as BioMap2 Core Habitat. Core Habitat identifies key areas to ensure the long-term persistence of wildlife species of conservation concern, exemplary natural communities, and intact ecosystems across the Commonwealth. The area, which runs along Tripps Mill Brook, is also listed as Critical Natural Landscape – defined as an area that is well suited to support ecological processes, disturbances, and wide-ranging species. The area will be open to the public for passive recreational activities such as hiking and fishing.
  • The Greater Worcester Land Trust – Tetasset Hill Project, Worcester – $40,000 for a 17-acre parcel that will link the Tetasset Ridge Trail to open space along Tatnuck Brook, including the God's Acre and Patches Conservation Areas. Classified as BioMap2 Core Habitat, the property contains wetlands, vernal pools and woods.
  • The Coalition for Buzzards Bay – Horseshoe Pond Project, Wareham – $85,000 for a nine-acre parcel, which lies between the town and a Wildlands Trust property, preserving a trail link around the entire northern and eastern edges of Horseshoe Pond. The area is the site of historic mill operations that operated in the colonial period – the remains of which are still present and provide excellent historic and environmental education opportunities. The Coalition will work with the Massachusetts DFG’s Division of Ecological Restoration to restore and maintain the area’s important coldwater fishery.
  • White Oak Land Conservation Society – Porcupine Hill, Holden and Paxton – $59,000 for a 12-acre project that will permanently protect an inholding in an important public drinking water supply area. The site of a former nature summer camp, the property will be used for nature and wildlife education programs, and will also provide parking and improved access to protected land through an existing network of trails and woods roads. It will be open to the public for recreational activities such as walking, cross-country skiing, hunting and bird-watching.
  • Rehoboth Land Trust – Oakhill Beagle Club Project, Rehoboth – $85,000 to acquire a conservation restriction on 92 acres of wooded upland and wetland owned by the Oakhill Beagle Club. Classified as BioMap2 Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape, the property will provide a parking area and public trail connection to the adjacent town forest.  The parcel also lies within a South Coast Rail Smart Growth Corridor Plan Priority Protection Area.
  • Barnstable Land Trust – Fullers Mill Pond Bogs Project, Barnstable – $10,464 for an area with former cranberry bogs, uplands and footpaths along a dike that form a natural trail corridor between neighborhood and existing conservation trails. With the bogs in various stages of re-growth, the area provides a diverse habitat excellent for small-scale nature education and wildlife watching opportunities.
  • East Quabbin Land Trust – Landworks Farm Project, Petersham – $55,000 to complete protection of Landworks Farm, located in the heart of Petersham's historic agricultural district.  The 7.5-acre parcel includes actively-farmed fields, a farm pond and an area that maintains a diverse natural habitat. Once completed, the area, which is near the Phillipston Wildlife Management Area, will be open for passive recreation activities and provide access to the Lorinda Brook wetland complex, which is preserved by a conservation restriction held by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
  • Massachusetts Audubon Society – Patterson Project, Barre – $85,000 forprotection of a 55-acre forest with significant species diversity that includes a mix of hard and softwood trees, and the majority of which is designated BioMap2 Critical Landscape. The site also includes a large area of wetland, which is part of the headwaters of Osgood Swamp. The majority of the swamp is located in the adjacent Rutland Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, into which this property will be incorporated.
  • Wildlands Trust – Creating an Urban Sanctuary Project, Brockton – $10,000 for a 121-acre project that contains wooded uplands, red maple swamp, vernal pool and small streams. The land abuts the 120-acre Stone Farm, which is owned by the Brockton Conservation Commission. With the access provided by three public roads, this area will be a prime location for public recreational and educational use. This award will fund the administration of the gifting of this property from the Brockton Audubon Society, which is in the process of dissolving, to the Wildlands Trust. 
  • Rutland Land Conservancy – Ferrie-Caulkins Woodland Project, Rutland – $4,895 to fund the administration of gifting 24-acres of hayfields, woodlands and wetlands by both fee and conservation restriction. The wooded backlands will be open to the public via a trail from the road that passes through the fields.

“This is great news. Every acre of land we protect today is another acre of important habitat, wetlands, or forest that we preserve for future generations," said Senator Marc Pacheco, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. "This not only provides the public with additional recreation opportunities, but also helps to protect our environmental and public health. I applaud the Patrick-Murray Administration for their continued commitment to land conservation.”

“Our local land trusts assist landowners in conservation and these grants continue that tradition creating open space for all to enjoy into perpetuity," said Representative Anne Gobi, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

Since 2005, the Conservation Partnership Program has awarded 95 projects resulting in the protection of more than 2,732 acres with an investment of $4.6 million in EEA funding. Funding for Conservation Partnership grants comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008.

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