For Immediate Release - January 27, 2009

Patrick-Murray Administration Awards $3.5 Million in Grants to Protect 1,150 Acres of Land in Nine Communities

Click here for a map of ALL statewide grant winners. Link to the image file.

BOSTON - Land conservation grants totaling $3.5 million announced today by Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles will help nine Massachusetts municipalities purchase 1,150 acres of land to protect farms, wetlands, forests, and wildlife habitat.

The 10 Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grants will fund land conservation projects in Attleboro, Fairhaven, Gardner, Grafton, Mashpee, Northampton, Sudbury, Westminster, and Worcester.

"This program helps communities throughout the Bay State preserve forests, fields, riverbanks, farms, and wildlife habitat that contribute daily to the quality of life here," Secretary Bowles said. "The grants announced today demonstrate what can be accomplished when the Commonwealth partners with cities and towns to safeguard significant natural resources."

Since 1961, EEA's LAND (formerly known as Self-Help) awards 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 LAND grants comes from the $1.7 billion Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in August 2008.

To qualify for the reimbursement grants, communities must fund the projects up-front 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.

This year's first grant round of $3.5 million leveraged $13 million additional non-state dollars raised by cities and towns, land trusts, and through private fundraising.

The grants include six projects in Central Massachusetts, two in Southeastern Massachusetts, and one project each in the Berkshires, and the Cape Cod and Islands regions.

The grants fund nine projects to protect rare species habitat and one project that connects 2,000-plus acres of conservation land. Several projects also add to contiguous areas of protected land including six projects protecting key water resources; two projects protecting working farms; seven projects protecting regional trails and greenways; and two projects protecting archaeological or historical sites.

EEA expects to award a second round of 2009 grants in the spring of 2009. The application deadline for the spring grants is Thursday, March 12, 2009 by 3 p.m. For more information go to: www.mass.gov/eea/dcs_grant_programs.

The following communities received LAND grants funding:

Attleboro , Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette: $495,000

  • 110 acres in the Bristol Lowlands
  • The City of Attleboro Conservation Commission partnered with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Attleboro Land Trust, and the National Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette to protect land behind the LaSallette Shrine. The land is part of a 500-plus acre natural area, which includes upland oak and pine woodlands, open field, freshwater streams, a wooded swamp, a peat moss-sedge wetland, and potential vernal pools. The entire property is also core habitat for rare species. Public walking paths will be constructed and maintained year-round by MassAudubon.
  • Click here for a map of Attleboro, Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette Link to the image file.

Fairhaven , Nasketucket Woods: $294,500

  • 53.4 acres in the Bristol/Narragansett Lowlands region
  • The Town of Fairhaven Conservation Commission's Nasketucket Woods project protects land in Fairhaven's wellhead protection overlay district. The area is upstream from the Little Bay, formerly part of White's Farm, a 344-unit development. The property includes freshwater wetlands, perennial streams, a potential vernal pool, and protected habitat for rare species. It connects to several other conservation areas, recreation land, and an elementary school. It will be open to the public for recreation. This project is in cooperation with the Coalition for Buzzards Bay.
  • Click here for a map of Fairhaven, Nasketucket Woods Link to the image file.

Gardner , Otter River Conservation Area Expansion: $24,500

  • 21.5 acres in the Worcester Plateau region
  • This project complements a decade-long effort by the City of Gardner Conservation Commission to create the Otter River Conservation Area, which encompasses lands along the Otter River on the border of Gardner and Templeton. Largely floodplain of the Otter River and Pond Brook, this property is priority habitat for rare species and part of the Watershed Protection District for Gardner's Snake Pond Well. This project will allow for creation of an access site and trails close to populated areas in Gardner. The property is open to the public for canoeing, fishing, and hiking.
  • Click here for a map of Gardner, Otter River Conservation Area Expansion Link to the image file.

Grafton, Pell Farm: $500,000

  • 153.3 acres in the Southern New England Coastal Plains and Hills region
  • Pell Farm, a working farm, is a scenic landscape and recreational area connecting more than 480 acres of protected land and open space in Grafton and Upton. Critical to the protection of water resources, the property is part of the Miscoe, Warren, and Whitehall Watersheds. Under the purchase agreement, existing Christmas trees on approximately 20 acres will continue to be harvested for the next decade. Three walking trails traverse the property and provide public access for recreation. The open field, wetland, and forest edge provide opportunities for wildlife viewing and bird watching. This project is in partnership of the Grafton Conservation Commission, Trust for Public Lands, and Grafton Land Trust.
  • Click here for a map of Grafton, Pell Farm Link to the image file.

Mashpee, Mashpee River Woodlands - Shields Property: $83,200

  • 1.1 acres in the Cape Cod and Islands region
  • The Shields Property is a building lot that was excluded from a larger parcel that was acquired by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW). Its acquisition fills in a gap in the five-mile, 780-acre Mashpee River Corridor Project, a cooperative effort of DFW, The Trustees of Reservations, and the Town of Mashpee. The property is a priority habitat for rare species. The acquisition eliminates the effects of potential development, including nitrogen loading on the Mashpee River and Popponesset Bay.
  • Click here for a map of Mashpee, Mashpee River Woodlands - Shields Property Link to the image file.

Northampton , Saw Mill Hills Conservation Area Linkage: $191,400

  • 10.4 acres in the Connecticut River Valley region
  • This property provides a link between the Mineral Hills Conservation Area and the abutting Saw Mill Hills Conservation Area, which comprise more than 820 acres of protected land. Parsons Brook runs through the property. More than 85 percent of the land is within Easthampton's drinking water supply area. Some existing farmland will continue to be farmed. This acquisition prevents further development that would endanger wildlife and migration routes. There is public trail access between the two conservation areas.
  • Click here for a map of Northampton, Saw Mill Hills Conservation Area Linkage Link to the image file.

Sudbury , Nobscot Scout Reservation: $500,000

  • 303 acres in the Southern New England Coastal Plains and Hills region
  • The Nobscot Scout Reservation in Sudbury and Framingham is one of the last large unprotected pieces of open space in the Metropolitan Boston area. Since 1928, the wooded parcel has been a Boy Scout camp and provided a place for outdoor recreation for the public. The parcel includes vernal pools, wetlands, headwater streams, and unfragmented forests, and is home to endangered species. The property connects to both Callahan State Park and Sudbury's Tippling Rock and Nobscot Conservation Areas. The project, in cooperation with the Knox Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America, ensures that the area is preserved forever. The property provide public access to hiking trails, including part of the Bay Circuit Trail, and facilities for events.
  • Click here for a map of Sudbury, Nobscot Scout Reservation Link to the image file.

Westminster , Southern Monadnock Plateau Forest Legacy Project: $500,000

  • 467 acres in the Worcester Plateau region
  • This project enables the Town of Westminster, in cooperation with the North County Land Trust, to acquire a parcel of forest, wetlands, and meadow land adjacent to the Department of Fish & Game's High Ridge Wildlife Management Area and Westminster 's Muddy Pond Conservation Area. One of the parcels protects Nashua River Watershed. The conservation restrictions on these 13 parcels protect a natural and working landscape, ensuring the property will continue to have working agricultural and forest lands. The property includes a large portion of the Midstate Trail corridor, and is open to the public for hiking, biking, and cross country skiing.
  • Click here for a map of Westminster, Southern Monadnock Plateau Forest Legacy Project Link to the image file.

Worcester , Crow Hill Savannah: $500,000

  • 10 acres in the Southern New England Coastal Plains and Hills region
  • The Greater Worcester Land Trust's Crow Hill project is a model of habitat protection and greenways in an urban environment. The property contains the headwaters of the Fitzgerald Brook, a historic rainbow smelt run. Adjacent to Worcester North High School, the Ecotarium Natural History Museum, and public transportation, the land also provides public access and links these resources to the existing 28-acre Worcester Conservation Commission Property.
  • Click here for a map of Worcester, Crow Hill Savannah Link to the image file.

Worcester, Moreland Woods: $378,000

  • 20.6 acres in the Southern New England Coastal Plains and Hills region
  • Located on the west side of Worcester, the Greater Worcester Land Trust's Moreland Woods project will provide surrounding neighborhoods with walking access to public parks or open space. The property is a rich mixture of habitats including a deciduous upland forest, wetlands, and a coniferous grove, which provide habitat for diverse wildlife, including fox, deer, and wild turkeys. The headwaters for the Beaver Brook watershed are located in Moreland Woods. The property will provide an educational opportunity to nearby schools.
  • Click here for a map of Worcester, Moreland Woods Link to the image file.