Patrick-Murray Administration Announces 245-Acre Land Acquisition in Wareham, Plymouth
Purchase of A.D. Makepeace land protects Red Brook watershed and improves habitat for 11 rare species
BOSTON - Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles today announced the purchase of 245 acres of land on Red Brook in Wareham and Plymouth that will protect one of the most diverse fish and wildlife habitats in the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and its Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) acquired the land, commonly known as Century Bog, from A.D. Makepeace Company for $3 million. The acquisition - through conservation and ongoing ecological restoration - will protect the Red Brook watershed and protect habitat for 11 rare species, several fish species and other wildlife.
"Under Governor Patrick, the Commonwealth has undertaken the largest land conservation initiative in state history, and this important partnership with A.D. Makepeace is our latest success," said Secretary Bowles. "This project will protect critical habitats, conserve coastal land and help to continue ongoing ecological restoration efforts, and is in line with our efforts to protect 54,000 acres of land across the Commonwealth in the past two years - the equivalent of 60 acres per day."
The property consists of about 176 acres in Wareham and 69 acres in Plymouth, beginning at the southern end of White Island Pond and linking to MassWildlife's Red Brook Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The Red Brook WMA is 673 acres and adjacent to The Trustees of Reservations' 210-acre Lyman Reserve. With the Century Bog acquisition completed, 883 acres of contiguous land are permanently protected, from the headwaters of Red Brook all the way to Buttermilk Bay, a shallow estuary located at the head of Buzzards Bay.
Funding for the acquisition comes from the $1.7 billion Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in August 2008.
"This is the most important acquisition for the agency this year," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin, who added that DFG plans to develop a comprehensive restoration plan for the property that includes consideration of climate change adaptation strategies. "Conservation and restoration of the Red Brook watershed will ensure the protection of one of the remaining native sea-run brook trout streams in Massachusetts, as well as habitat for a variety of fish and 11 plants and insects recorded on MassWildlife's list of endangered, threatened, and special concern species."
A.D. Makepeace - the world's largest cranberry grower and the largest private landowner in eastern Massachusetts - has been an active participant in ongoing habitat restoration efforts on Red Brook. During the term of a six-year lease agreement, the company has agreed to provide further restoration services on the property such as removing culverts and berms, and excavating the main channel. Under that agreement, A.D. Makepeace has the right to continue its cranberry operations at the 70-acre Century Bog for five years.
This is the Commonwealth's second major land conservation effort in partnership with A.D. Makepeace in the past year. In July 2009, Secretary Bowles, Commissioner Griffin and representatives of A.D. Makepeace celebrated a three-phase project to preserve of thousands of acres of critical habitat and open space in southeastern Massachusetts.
"The A.D. Makepeace Company, and particularly the many avid anglers on our staff, have long recognized that the Century Bog property is a unique habitat," said A.D. Makepeace President and CEO Michael P. Hogan. "We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Commonwealth as well as Trout Unlimited and the Trustees of Reservations to ensure the long-term protection of the many wildlife species which live in the area."
Land features and history
Red Brook is a small, spring-fed, cold water coastal stream that flows roughly 4.5 miles through several former cranberry bogs from its headwaters in Plymouth to the ocean. The Century Bog property contains habitat for common species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, eastern cottontail, and coyote; numerous fish species including sea-run brook trout, American eel, alewife, blueback herring, and white perch; and 11 rare plant and insect species.
The sea-run brook trout - or salters - live in fresh water from spring to fall, and spawn in the autumn before spending the winter in near-shore ocean waters. A variant of Massachusetts' native brook trout, they are larger than typical brook trout due to feeding on abundant food resources in salt water during winter months.
Future restoration of the Century Bog area of Red Brook is expected to improve prospects for salter brook trout and other anadromous fish, particularly blueback herring and alewives. The entire run of Red Brook has been designated by MassWildlife as a catch and release only area due to the quality and unique nature of the fishery resource. MassWildlife, Trout Unlimited, and the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) are actively engaged in researching the native sea-run brook trout in Red Brook.
The acquired property also includes several run-of-river cranberry bogs and wooded pitch pine and scrub oak upland with some small, dispersed wetland areas. It also includes Bartlett Pond, an 11-acre coastal plain pond. Acquisition of Century Bog improves the previously limited public access to the Red Brook WMA.
The Theodore Lyman Reserve honors the naturalist who, in 1867, experienced Red Brook during a site visit for the Massachusetts Commissioners on Inland Fisheries. For the next 30 years, Theodore Lyman III (1833 - 1897) worked to protect Red Brook by purchasing parcels of land on both sides from source to mouth. He eventually acquired a total of 638 acres, and for six generations the Lyman family used the area as a fishing camp, drawn by salters that still run this course. In 2001, the Lyman family generously donated the entire Red Brook property to ensure its protection in perpetuity. Lyman's legacy is preserved in the form of the Red Brook Reserve, which is comprised of the 210-acre Trustees reservation and the Red Brook WMA. Management for the entire reserve is overseen by The Trustees of Reservations, MassWildlife and Trout Unlimited, who entered into a cooperative management agreement in 2001.
Ongoing restoration efforts
Due to its outstanding fisheries resources, Red Brook has been a top priority for coordinated habitat restoration activity since 2006. DFG's Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) and Trout Unlimited have led the removal of several levees, berms, small dams, and dikes. The two also partnered to add trees and root wads to the stream to enhance habitat, and planted native riparian species along the restored stream channel in Theodore Lyman Reserve. These restoration efforts have been in partnership with MassWildlife, A.D. Makepeace, The Trustees of Reservations, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USGS, American Rivers, the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, University of Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the towns of Wareham, Plymouth, and Bourne, and DFG's Division of Marine Fisheries.
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the enjoyment and conservation of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land preservation and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and game species, and enforcement of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's lakes and ponds. Striving to maintain native biodiversity, MassWildlife is responsible for the protection and management of all inland fish, wildlife and plants in the Commonwealth.