For Immediate Release - September 28, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces 165 Acres Added to Bolton/Lancaster

Critical Acquisitions Will Link Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge and Protect Habitat for Rare Species and Other Wildlife

Map of land parcels. Link to the image file.

LANCASTER - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - Continuing the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to environmental stewardship, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles today joined with representatives of conservation organizations to celebrate the completion of four land protection projects that preserve 165 acres of critical habitat in Lancaster and Bolton. These new acquisitions enlarge the Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area to 1,320 acres, link the property to the 1,667-acre Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge and protect an additional 1.7 miles of frontage on the Nashua River.

"These acquisitions join two significant conservation landholdings to create a wildlife haven of more than 3,000 acres," said Secretary Bowles. "Since Governor Patrick made his historic commitment to land preservation nearly four years ago, the Commonwealth has protected more than 72,000 acres, maintaining precious open spaces, supporting farm and forest landscapes, and creating urban parks for the enjoyment of generations to come. Here we see the benefits in a stunning natural landscape and crucial habitat for wildlife that will be protected from development in perpetuity."

The Department of Fish and Game and its Division of Fisheries & Wildlife acquired four properties totaling 157.4 acres in Lancaster and 7.4 acres in Bolton at a cost of $364,000. The protected properties include scenic floodplain fields near the confluence of the North and South branches of the Nashua River and more than 100 contiguous acres of floodplain forest along the north bank.

"There are fourteen rare species known from the Bolton flats area, including five Endangered, five Threatened, and four Special Concern species, ranging from the Threatened Blanding's Turtle to a globally rare dragonfly," said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin. "Bolton Flats is an especially popular birding destination for spring warblers heading north and kettles of broad-winged and sharp-shinned hawks drifting south in the fall. Upland game birds include woodcock, pheasant, grouse, turkey and crow."

"I am thrilled that this acquisition is taking place; this is great news for Bolton Flats, which is one of our most valuable environmental resources here in the District," said Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan. "I look forward to continuing working with the Administration to foster the growth and protection of our open space, which is essential for our Commonwealth's wildlife species."

"Expanding the Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area exemplifies the state and towns' commitment to protecting rare and native species. I am pleased that this purchase will link the Bolton and Oxbow reservations and provide more protected open space in the 37th Middlesex District," said Representative Jennifer Benson.

"This acquisition of 165 acres in the Bolton Flats is an investment in our region's quality of life and an investment for future generations," said Representative Kate Hogan. "Our protected habitats create special havens we can visit again and again."

"I would like to thank the Friends of the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge for helping make these critical acquisitions possible," said Representative Harold Naughton. "There are several rare species of wildlife in this area, and the addition of this land to the Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area will help preserve the natural environment that is so valuable to Central Massachusetts."

The Bolton Flats area is a hotspot for rare species and uncommon natural communities in central Massachusetts. The biological richness of this area stems from the diversity of habitats, including the Nashua River itself, the floodplain forests adjacent to the river, the sand plains west of the river, and globally rare pitch pine-scrub oak woodland. All of the land acquired has been identified by DFW's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as Priority Habitat and the properties are within the Central Nashua River Valley Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).

The Bolton Flats WMA is of special interest because of the great variety of birds it supports, particularly during the migration periods. Several species of waterfowl including black duck, wood duck, mallard, hooded merganser, green and blue-winged teal, ring-necked duck and Canada goose inhabit the area at various times of the year. Wading birds include great blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, American bittern, black-crowned night heron and glossy ibis. Other birds include Eastern bluebird, tree swallow, song sparrow, woodcock, crows, wild turkey, grouse, dozens of warblers and several species of hawks. Mammals that live on the WMA include aquatic fur-bearers such as beaver, muskrat, mink, and otter, as well as deer, cottontail rabbit, fox and raccoon.

Bolton Flats WMA offers exceptional recreational opportunities for bird watchers, hunters, anglers, canoeists and kayakers. The Nashua River is a good warm water fishery with largemouth bass and chain pickerel being the major game fish, along with abundant pan fish populations of yellow perch and bluegill.

Members of several conservation organizations attended the celebratory event, including representatives of the Friends of the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge, the Lancaster Land Trust, the Bolton Land Trust, the Harvard Land Trust, the Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council, the Worcester County League of Sportsmen and the Nashua River Watershed Association.

Funding for DFG's land acquisition program comes from a combination of sources, including the Environmental Bond signed by Governor Patrick in 2008, state land stamp funds collected from fishing, hunting and trapping license sales and donations and federal grants.