For Immediate Release - March 26, 2013

Patrick-Murray Administration Awards $400,000 Land Conservation Grant to Dennis

DENNIS – Monday, March 25, 2013 – Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today awarded a $400,000 land conservation grant to the town of Dennis to help fund the Grassy Ponds Woodlands project.

The Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant will allow the town to acquire and restore a 6.4-acre parcel featuring 1,200 feet of pond shore on two coastal plain ponds. Conservation of the woodlands will prevent development of a nine-lot subdivision on this site. With the additional acquisition of an abutting property held under a conservation restriction by the Nature Conservancy, the town will ultimately own 11.2 acres which will be open to the public through walking trails.

Since 2007, the Patrick-Murray Administration has conserved more than 100,000 acres of land throughout the Commonwealth. Under this unprecedented effort, more than 16,000 acres in 10 habitat reserves – the most pristine habitats – have been preserved, and more than 150 parks have been created or restored.

“Under the leadership of Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray, we have achieved significant land conservation results in part by partnering with local communities like Dennis,” said Secretary Sullivan. “These investments at the local level benefit the quality of life of residents and the long-term health of the environment.”

"This is crucial support not just to Dennis, but for the Cape and Islands conservation movement as a whole," said Senator Dan Wolf. "Grassy Ponds Woodland is creative reclamation as well as environmental protection, proof positive that the great value of open space is measured not only by how many acres are preserved, but also by how much our communities benefit from smaller, accessible parcels. Kudos to Governor Patrick and Secretary Sullivan for recognizing this very important perspective."

“The partnership of the Patrick-Murray Administration and the Town of Dennis sends a positive message of what can happen when state and local government work together,” said Representative Cleon Turner. “The restored trails will not only benefit the residents of Dennis but also serve as an added appeal to tourists.”

"This acquisition will benefit generations of Dennis residents and tourists," said Dennis Town Administrator Richard White. "It is a critical piece of property environmentally delicate and rich with passive recreation opportunities. We are thrilled that the state is assisting with its purchase. A purchase that never would happen without state support."

“The Dennis Conservation Trust has rallied together with many different partners over the past two years to save this critical watershed and wildlife area," said Richard Johnston, president of the Dennis Conservation Trust. "We are pleased the Commonwealth of Massachusetts took note of the property’s significance and broad-based community support  for its preservation in awarding this substantial grant.”

In December 2012, Secretary Sullivan announced the award of 13 LAND grants to Amherst, Barre, Belchertown, Conway, Granby, Groton, Hopkinton, Middleton, Northampton, Southampton, Southwick, Townsend andSudbury.  With the addition of today’s award to Dennis, EEA has awarded a total of nearly $3.5 million for 14 LAND grants this year.

Since 1961, EEA's LAND (formerly known as Self Help) grants have helped cities and towns acquire land for conservation and outdoor recreational uses such as hiking, wildlife watching, fishing, hunting and cross-country skiing. Funding for the grants comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in 2008. To qualify for the reimbursement grants, communities must fund projects upfront through local, federal or private sources and the protected open space must be open to the public. Municipalities may use grant funds for outright land purchases or partial interests, such as conservation restrictions, and for associated acquisition costs.