For Immediate Release - November 20, 2015

State Awards Land and Habitat Protection Grants to South Coast Communities

$147,000 Awarded to Four Towns in the Buzzards Bay Watershed

BOSTON– November 20, 2015- The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $147,000 in federal grant money to help towns in the Buzzards Bay watershed protect important habitat and drinking water resources. The grants, which are being matched by $87,225 in municipal and private contributions, focus on permanently protecting or restoring wetlands or upland areas to protect habitat, wildlife, and water quality, as well as to promote conservation and outdoor recreation.

“Many Massachusetts communities are working hard to protect their natural resources and ensure the health of their citizens, and we are pleased to be able to work with them and the federal government to achieve these goals,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through the awarding of grants under this program, our Administration continues to demonstrate its commitment to not only working with municipalities, but also conserving open space and improving water quality.”

“This program provides South Coast communities the resources needed to improve water quality, protect habitat for rare species and provide outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “It is great to be able to be able to fund these important and forward thinking local projects that will permanently protect this valuable land for the people and the wildlife of the region.”

The land protection and habitat grants are being awarded by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program through the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) with funding from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Through these grants, our Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program funds important local land protection efforts that benefit the entire region by improving water quality, habitat, and recreational opportunities,” said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. “We thank EPA for its continued funding of these vital grants, as well as the South Coast communities and their partners for their work to identify and protect lands with important natural resource values.”

“It is a pleasure to work with EPA, the state, and our communities to protect the land and natural resources of Buzzards Bay,” said Joe Costa, Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program. “Our program is committed to continuing to provide funding and technical support to our partners in their efforts to protect and restore water quality and living resources in Buzzards Bay and its watershed.”
The following five grants were awarded:

Town of Dartmouth - $10,000 to work with the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust and the Buzzards Bay Coalition to conduct a site survey, prepare a plan, and complete an appraisal on a 107-acre property owned by the Paskamansett Beagle Club (PBC) in Dartmouth. The town and its partners will use this information to develop a land protection strategy with the landowner. The property contains critical habitat for rare species and is home to an Atlantic white cedar swamp and extensive wetlands. The town considers this area to be a “keystone” property that would connect extensive existing protected lands that total more than 600 acres.

Town of Mattapoisett - $45,000 to acquire and permanently protect a 25.8-acre property in the Mattapoisett River Valley known as Tinkham Bog Woods. The property is being protected because of its key location near the Mattapoisett River, other water department lands, and an existing drinking water supply well site. In addition, acquiring this property will protect valuable wetlands, buffer areas, and critical habitat areas for rare species. The town is collaborating with the Buzzards Bay Coalition on this project.

Town of Mattapoisett - $5,000 to perform a real estate appraisal on properties totaling 143-acres in Rochester, Mattapoisett, and Acushnet that are mostly in the Mattapoisett River aquifer. The aquifer contains public water supply wells serving residents in Fairhaven, Marion, and Mattapoisett, and private wells in Rochester. The property also contains important wetlands, as well as critical habitat for rare species. The town will use the real estate appraisal, and with its partner the Buzzards Bay Coalition, work with the landowner to permanently protect the property. The town seeks to acquire this property because it is near the Mattapoisett River, abuts other protected lands, and is near municipal drinking water supply wells.

Town of Rochester - $42,000 for the Haskell Woods Land Preservation Project. In partnership with the Rochester Land Trust (RLT), the town will purchase and permanently protect land that will serve as a critical link to existing trails located on adjacent RLT and town-owned lands. The existing trails system crosses over a portion of a privately owned property. The town and land trust will purchase 11.5 acres that contain the trails as well as woodlands, wetlands, floodplain, over 800 linear feet of stream frontage, and habitat for Eastern box turtles.

Town of Wareham - $45,000 to work with the Buzzards Bay Coalition to acquire and permanently protect 51 acres of highly developable forestland in Wareham, west of the Fearing Hill conservation area. The project will benefit wildlife habitat, wetlands, and water resources; expand trail-based recreational opportunities that connect to the Weweantic River; and add to a large contiguous area of existing protected land. The targeted property abuts 115 acres of land owned by the town’s conservation commission. In addition, the property is home to the Eastern box turtle, which is protected by the state as a rare species. The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, working with the town, has identified this property as an ideal location for the use of mitigation funds received from Walmart related to construction nearby.

“I am proud to see these five grants awarded to deserving recipients in my district,” said Congressman Bill Keating, who represents the coastal Ninth District. “The Towns of Wareham, Rochester, Mattapoisett, and Dartmouth, along with their partners, are seeking to conserve and protect habitats, wetlands, and water quality across Southeastern Massachusetts. These are five opportunities to better ensure our continued protection of our natural resources, and I am confident that we will continue to see the benefits stemming from these projects for years to come.”

“I have a strong and continued interest in protecting the watershed and the water quality of Buzzards Bay,” said State Representative William M. Straus (D-Mattapoisett).
“I am pleased that these grant monies will be used in preserving and maintaining the quality of this vital natural resource and promote conservation measures throughout the region.”

“These grants represent a continuation of the Commonwealth's mission to unite government, industry, and citizenry to meet our shared environmental and conservation goals,” said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport).  “The SouthCoast and the Buzzards Bay Watershed communities will greatly benefit from these types of comprehensive investments in our natural resources and ecosystems, and I commend the Baker-Polito Administration for their leadership.”

“The natural resources of our state are precious and must be protected,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). “Our communities deserve thriving, accessible conservation areas. These awards are vital to wetland and upland restoration, providing our communities with healthy wildlife habitats, water sources and recreation. Wareham’s acquisition and protection of highly developable forestland is vital, and I’m pleased to see recreation expansion for trails connected to the Weweantic River. I commend Wareham officials for their hard work in securing this award, and I look forward to seeing the good it will do for Southeastern Massachusetts.”

“Wareham is working very diligently to preserve open spaces and protect our water as well as our other important natural resources,” said State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham). “However, we cannot do this on our own.  We simply lack the monetary resources due to revenue and budgetary restraints.  We are grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their ongoing commitment to our local communities and recognizing the benefits these Land and Habitat Protection Grants will bring.”

“These grants are another significant step in protecting these ecologically important and scenic areas in Dartmouth and Mattapoisett,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). “Such financial assistance is essential to our efforts to continue to protect open space and wildlife, as well as improve the quality of our coastal waters.”

“We are very pleased that the Baker-Polito Administration has designated money to our community, in order to begin the work of protecting and conserving our land,” said State Representative Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth). “This money is greatly appreciated and we owe a debt of gratitude to Secretary Beaton and the Administration.”
The Office of Coastal Zone Management is EEA’s lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues. Created in 1985, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program provides grants and technical assistance to South Coast and Cape Cod communities to protect and restore water quality and natural resources in Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed and is one of 28 similar programs designated by the EPA.


 

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