For Immediate Release - October 07, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration, Partners Celebrate Preservation of Maplecroft Farm in Ipswich

State, municipal, nonprofit groups protect 250 acres from development as part of 75,000 acres preserved since Governor Patrick took office

IPSWICH - October 6, 2010 - Continuing the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to environmental stewardship, Energy and Environment Secretary Ian Bowles today joined state and municipal officials and representatives of nonprofit groups to celebrate the permanent preservation of nearly 250 acres of rural and agricultural space along Route 133 in Ipswich.

The preservation of Maplecroft Farm is part of Governor Patrick's historic land conservation initiative, which has permanently protected from development 75,000 acres of environmentally sensitive open space since he took office - 50 percent more than in the previous four years.

"What we protect is as important as what we build," Governor Patrick said. "The proof of that is here, on this beautiful piece of property, and in the many others we have preserved for posterity in the past four years. Thanks to the efforts of many people in this community, in state agencies, and in nonprofit land organizations - not to mention the Raymond family - Maplecroft Farm will stay as beautiful as it is today for generations to come."

"Our administration recognizes and understands the value of investing in cities and towns, including the landscape and agricultural space, across the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "By working with the community, Maplecroft Farm will continue to be a tremendous environmental asset for Ipswich and the region."

"Governor Patrick has made a historic commitment to work with communities, land trusts, and property owners to maintain our most precious rural landscapes for habitat protection, agriculture, and outdoor recreation," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. "Thanks to his unprecedented commitment, properties like Maplecroft Farm will be here for future generations to enjoy."

This land conservation effort involved the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), the town of Ipswich, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Essex County Greenbelt Association. Of the $5.1 million that made this project possible, the town of Ipswich contributed $2.07 million and DAR (in partnership with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, under the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program) contributed $1.83 million for an Agricultural Preservation Restriction held jointly with the town of Ipswich. DCR contributed $700,000 for a conservation restriction held jointly with the town of Ipswich, and the Essex County Greenbelt Association contributed $500,000. The Trust for Public Land coordinated the project financing and served as the liaison for negotiations with the Raymond family, which owns the farm.

"The Trust for Public Land is quite proud to have worked with the Raymond family and our many remarkable partners to secure this conservation opportunity in Ipswich," said Whitney Hatch, southern New England director for TPL and a resident of Ipswich. "We understand how important the preservation of the town's rural character is to the quality of life in Ipswich, and we thank everyone for seizing upon this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a lasting impact on the town's future."

Last April, TPL, a national conservation organization, reached an agreement with the Raymond family to conserve Maplecroft Farm, bordered by Argilla, Heartbreak, Essex and Northgate Roads in Ipswich. Under the agreement, TPL raised $5.1 million from a variety of sources to purchase the conservation restrictions that permanently protect the land from development.

"Our family profoundly appreciates the help and support of so many in preserving the open space and agricultural character of our properties," said Ted Raymond, a lifelong Ipswich resident whose family has owned Maplecroft Farm for nearly 70 years. "It is very comforting to know that what so many have enjoyed will continue to be a part of the beautiful landscape of Ipswich."

As a result of Governor Patrick's land conservation initiative, Massachusetts now has more than 1.2 million acres of permanently protected land. For the first time in decades, the amount of land protected from development in Massachusetts is greater than the amount of land that has been developed.

Over the last four years, state agencies involved in land conservation have pursued three priorities established by Governor Patrick.

Urban Parks:

  • Created or restored 93 parks across the Commonwealth, including more than 40 new parks, significantly improving the quality of life in our cities.
  • These include the three-mile Neponset Esplanade in Boston, the Nashua Riverfront Park in Fitchburg and four new neighborhood parks in Chelsea.

Working Farms and Forests:

  • Protected 95 farms totaling 5,700 acres with $38 million in funding.
  • Overall, DAR currently protects 100,000 acres of farmland in 1,100 farms.
  • In the past two years, completed 10-year working forest protection agreements with 460 landowners on 43,000 acres of productive forestlands.
  • In the past four years, protected land with nearly 30,000 acres of prime farm and forest soils.

Habitat Reserves:

  • Protected 14,000 acres in 10 Habitat Reserves - the most pristine landscapes remaining in the Commonwealth.
  • 10-year Working Forest agreements preserved an additional 9,200 acres in the Habitat Reserves.
  • 9 percent of previously unprotected land in Habitat Reserves has been protected in past four years.
  • 88 percent of the land protected in the past four years has been in critical habitat areas.

At Maplecroft Farm, public access will be provided along a trail under an easement held and maintained by Essex County Trail Association (ECTA). Agricultural restrictions will protect significant farmland and prime soils. Conservation restrictions will protect natural resources including surface water, salt marsh habitat and drinking water for the adjacent Ipswich town well. The restrictions will also allow the continued use of the Raymond Fields for athletic events, notably by the Ipswich Youth Soccer Association

"The conservation of this property has many public benefits, not the least of which is preserving the scenic gateway to town along Route 133 and the view we all cherish along Argilla Road to Crane Beach," said Pat McNally, a member of the Ipswich Board of Selectmen. "Protecting this property has been a high priority for the town for many years."

The protected agricultural lands will also continue to support hay and corn production and a herd of grass-fed Angus cattle, as the land protected by the Agricultural Preservation Restriction must be actively farmed.

"The Department of Agricultural Resources is committed to protecting our Commonwealth's working landscapes and is proud to be a part of this important investment along with the federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program," said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares.

"DCR is pleased to be a partner in protecting this important resource on the North Shore," said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "This is an excellent example of the type of joint partnership that often comes together to protect such landmark properties in the Commonwealth"

"This is one of the most ambitious and important projects that Greenbelt has ever been involved in," said Ed Becker, Greenbelt's Executive Director, "and we want to particularly thank the donors to our capital campaign, along with the town of Ipswich and the other project partners, for making it such a resounding success."