For Immediate Release - May 07, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve Land Acquisitions

Acquisitions mark 10-year anniversary of the Bioreserve

FREETOWN – Friday, May 4, 2012 – Environmental officials from the Patrick-Murray Administration today celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve by announcing the addition of four new land acquisitions to the Bioreserve.

These four new acquisitions – totaling 200 acres – reaffirm the Administration’s commitment to the protection of land for public open spaces, conservation, rare species habitat and recreation.

“Today’s celebration is the culmination of an effort that began a decade ago and I want recognize the efforts of the land owners, trustees, municipal and state officials for all their hard work in protecting this natural treasure,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “It is partnerships such as these that have made Massachusetts a leader in land conservation.”

Bioreserve partners, including Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr., Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Mary Griffin, Fall River Mayor William A. Flanagan and Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) Interim President Kathy Abbott, gathered today at Freetown State Forest to kick off weekend events to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Commonwealth’s first Bioreserve.

Bioreserves are large land areas that are permanently protected from development but showcase balance between biodiversity, conservation and human activity.

“We’re excited to commemorate the Bioreserve’s tenth anniversary and look forward to continuing our joint commitment to its protection, stewardship and public accessibility,” said DCR Commissioner Lambert. “On behalf of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, I would like to thank the owners of these properties for working with us, the Department of Fish and Game and the Trustees of Reservations in helping us forge ahead with the state’s mission of the Bioreserve.”

The land acquired includes 81 acres of wetlands and core habitats on Slab Bridge Road in Freetown, four acres adjacent to protected land on Copicut Road in Freetown, five acres of open field habitat on Yellow Hill Road in Fall River and 111 acres abutting water supply land and conservation restrictions near Flag Swamp Road, also in Fall River.

“I would like to thank the Department of Conservation, the City of Fall River and the Trustees of Reservations for working with us on these acquisitions and the management of natural resources and recreation in the Bioreserve,” said DFG Commissioner Griffin. “The Bioreserve is home to a great diversity of wildlife, with ten rare species including the bald eagle, marbled salamander, Eastern box turtle, and Plymouth gentian. It is also a great recreational resource for people who enjoy the outdoors.”

Work in preparation for the most recent acquisitions began in 2010 when the project partners initially identified several areas within and abutting the Bioreserve as potential acquisition targets. DCR, DFG and TTOR worked together to identify the highest priorities for acquisition and determined the lead agency for each project.

The Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve is managed in a cooperative and consistent manner through public-private sector partnerships by DCR, DFG, TTOR and the City of Fall River. The partnerships work to preserve the functionality of a large-scale eco-system and promote biodiversity, conservation, water supply protection, sustainable forest management, and scientific, educational, and recreational opportunities.

“The Freetown State Forest is a great place for anyone to come out to and enjoy the simplicities of life. I am pleased to be a part of such a significant green space,” said Fall River Mayor Flanagan. “I am also proud that we are ensuring our future citizens will be able to enjoy the State Forest with their families and friends.”

“I am extremely excited to celebrate ten years of successfully promoting biodiversity, conservation, water supply protection, sustainable forest management, and numerous educational opportunities within the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues. “The Southeastern Bio-reserve protects and preserves the ecological integrity of a large scale ecosystem, and is one of the many gems here in the SouthCoast.”  

Established in 2002, the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve currently holds approximately 14,000 acres and provides the largest wildlife management area in Massachusetts. The reserve combines the Freetown State Forest, Copicut Wildlife Management Area, TTOR’s Copicut Woods, and eastern parts of the city’s watershed lands, including the Copicut Reservoir.

At its inception, the Commonwealth conveyed 300 acres, located at the northwestern corner of the Bioreserve to the Fall River Redevelopment Authority for development of an executive park. In return, the City of Fall River conveyed a conservation restriction on 4,200 acres of water supply land, co-held by DCR and DFG, and provided funding to be used for future acquisitions to expand and further protect the Bioreserve.