Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Grants to Protect 880 Acres of Land in 19 Communities Across the Commonwealth
BOSTON - Monday, November 8, 2010 - In keeping with Governor Patrick's unprecedented commitment to preserve open space and improve public parks across the state, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles today announced $6.3 million in grants to help 19 Massachusetts municipalities purchase 880 acres to protect recreational land, drinking water aquifers, wetlands, and wildlife habitat.
Matched by $8.9 million in municipal, private and nonprofit funding, these Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grants will fund projects in Amherst, Andover, Barnstable, Belchertown, Brewster, Dennis, Fairhaven, Falmouth, Groton, Harwich, Lexington, Northampton, Orleans, Provincetown, Scituate, Templeton, Upton, Ware, and Yarmouth.
"Investments like these conserve and protect urban parks, farmland and forests across the Commonwealth for generations to come," said Governor Patrick. "Our open spaces are among the things that make Massachusetts such a desirable place to live. What we protect is as important as what we build."
Over the past four years, the Commonwealth has protected nearly 75,000 acres of land - the equivalent 54 acres per day. Among the Patrick-Murray Administration's conservation accomplishments are the creation of 44 new urban parks, the protection of 5,700 acres on 95 farms, preservation of land with nearly 30,000 acres of prime farm and forest soils, and protection of 14,000 acres in 10 areas of critical forested landscape habitats across Massachusetts. In addition, the Commonwealth has protected 9,300 acres within a half mile of drinking water reservoirs across the state.
Massachusetts now has more than 1.2 million acres permanently protected. For the first time in decades, the acres of land protected from development in Massachusetts are greater than acres that have been developed.
"These grants will allow communities to create more open recreational spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy," said Senate President Therese Murray. "These areas like the ones in Falmouth and Barnstable are perfect examples of how we can utilize unused space for the enjoyment of the community."
"These grants enable municipalities across Massachusetts to set aside land specifically for recreation, habitat conservation and farming and preservation of precious water resources," said Secretary Bowles. "With the hard work of state and municipal officials, land trusts, community organizations, and private citizens, we have protected wetlands, fields and woodlands throughout our state."
Since 1961, EEA's LAND (formerly known as Self-Help) grants have helped cities and towns acquire land for conservation and outdoor recreational uses such as hiking, wildlife watching, biking, fishing, hunting, and cross-country skiing. Funding for the fiscal year 2011 LAND grants comes from the $1.7 billion Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in August 2008.
"The LAND Program is an extraordinary grant program that allows communities to acquire land for conservation and recreation," said Senator Stephen M. Brewer. "I applaud these communities and EOEEA for working together to preserve natural resources throughout the Commonwealth for future generations."
"Massachusetts continues to prioritize the preservation of our beautiful natural resources," said Senator Mark Montigny. "The LAND Program is unique collaboration between the state and municipality to acquire new lands, protecting species and encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors. This award builds on the momentum of the past four years and makes a promise to younger generations that we care and will invest in open space."
"Through this land grant and donation, this beautiful area will be preserved and enjoyed by residents and those that visit the historic sites nearby. This is a wonderful example of a collaboration between a public agency and a generous private partner that benefits everyone," said Senator Kenneth Donnell.
"Working with EEA and the communities in my district to protect our scenic and unique open spaces from development has always been a top priority of mine," said Senator Sue Tucker. "This LAND grant to assist in the acquisition of five acres around Foster's Pond will be extraordinarily helpful in providing easier public access to the waterfront of hikers, picnickers and boaters. Along with the generous donation of an eight additional acres of adjacent land by the Foster's Pond Improvement Association, it is very exciting that this waterfront reservation with beautiful vistas and shore views continues to be expanded and preserved for future generations."
"I am pleased Fairhaven will be receiving grant money in the amount of $254,200 to assist in ensuring sustained biodiversity," said Representative William Straus. "In addition this grant allows public access to the residents of Fairhaven and neighboring towns for various recreational activities and the pleasure of enjoying our natural resources."
"The LAND Grant will help Andover preserve Fosters Pond for future generations of canoers, kayakers, and hikers," said Representative Barry Finegold. "This will go a long way to preserving the beauty of the Andover community."
"I was happy to learn that Falmouth received Land Grant funds to convert 10 acres of a former concrete facility into conservation land," said Representative Timothy Madden. "The Town and the 300 Committee is to be commended on their continuous efforts to preserve and create open space in the community."
"I appreciate the work of the towns, the Land Trusts the conservation committees involved and all other organizations that were instrumental in applying for the grant," said Representative Anne M. Gobi. "The grant will assist in making sure conservation restrictions are in place and create new trails and community opportunities."
"This new $500,000 matching grant from the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to preserve the historic Fuller Farm Homestead will help protect a beautiful parcel of land and key natural resource area of the town of Barnstable," said Representative Demetrius J. Atsalis. "Funding of the project places 23 acres into the public trust of the town of Barnstable that include natural woodlands, critical areas around Middle Pond, important wildlife habitats, and protections for a public water supply. It is important that we do as much as we can to preserve these local areas for future enjoyment and to become good stewards of these resources."
To qualify for the reimbursement grants, communities must fund the projects upfront. Municipalities may use grant funds for outright land purchases or partial interests, such as conservation restrictions, and for land surveys and fees associated with the transactions. The grants reimburse municipal conservation commissions between 52 percent and 70 percent of project costs up to $500,000.
The following communities have been selected to receive LAND grant funding this year worth a total of $6,289,699:
Amherst - Cushman Brook Riparian Corridor: $101,500
- 7 acres
- This forested parcel is adjacent to town conservation land and provides for connected open space along the Cushman Brook Corridor, which runs into Leverett and Shutesbury. The entire property is habitat for endangered species. The land will be open to the public for passive recreation along trails connecting to abutting land.
Andover-Fosters Pond: $259,600
- 5 acres
- This scenic, waterfront property is located in an area of small summer cottages that is rapidly being redeveloped with large homes built on small lots, straining the existing septic and stormwater infrastructure. This property itself was the subject of a three-house subdivision plan. The land is also located in a protected zone for a North Reading municipal well. The property provides the only access to the west for hiking on 200-plus acres of town conservation land and provides much needed access for canoes and kayaks to the pond.
Barnstable - Fuller Farm: $500,000
- 23 acres
- This project protects a historic farmstead, hayfields, and diverse woodlands as well as 350 feet of pond frontage on Middle Pond that contains important wildlife habitat. In addition, most of the property is within a protection zone of a public water supply. Hayfields (which are prime agricultural soils) will be maintained and community gardens may be added.
Belchertown - Holland Glen Forest: 500,000
- 290 acres
- This project protects forestland containing waterfalls, scenic views, and hiking trails. Adjacent to the existing Wentworth and Holland Glen Conservation Areas, the property drains into the Lawrence Swamp Aquifer which supplies drinking water to both Belchertown and Amherst. The site contains BioMap (a map and catalog of the Commonwealth's most critical lands, waters and habitats) Supporting Landscape and connects two BioMap Core Habitat Areas (Quabbin Reservation and Holyoke Range State Park). The Metacomet and Monandnock Trail, which was recently designated a National Scenic Trail, runs through the property. Completed in cooperation with The Kestrel Trust, Belchertown Land Trust, and the Valley Land Fund.
Brewster-Clay Hole Woodlands: $390,000
- 23 acres
- This predominantly pine-oak upland forest and former sheep farm is large for Cape Cod and will help protect a town of Orleans public well field. The property is priority habitat for rare species, contains a certified vernal pool, and is adjacent to the Hamilton property purchased by the Brewster Conservation Trust with the help of a fiscal year 2010 EEA-sponsored Conservation Partnership Grant. As this is a partnership that protects a water supply, the Orleans Selectmen will hold a conservation restriction.
Dennis - Old Fort Field: $200,604
- 8 acres
- This property, the site of a 1640s English fort, lies in the Chase Garden Creek watershed and connects to 75 acres of conserved land that is within both historic Dennis Village and the Old Kings Highway Regional Historic District. The parcel contains dense red cedar woodlands with mixed pine and oak as well as freshwater wetland extending into brackish marsh. Chase Garden Creek is the principle freshwater tributary to the downstream estuary, serving as a fish run and wildlife corridor. The Dennis Conservation Trust is purchasing the fee interest in the property and selling a conservation restriction to the town.
Fairhaven - New Boston Road: $254,200
- 59 acres
- This project, completed in partnership with the Coalition for Buzzards Bay, adds to a block of open space in northeastern Fairhaven, which lies above the Mattapoisett River aquifer and contains Priority Habitat for Rare Species. The parcel improves access to adjacent town properties and provides public access for passive recreation.
Falmouth - Little Pond at Teaticket: $500,000
- 10 acres
- This grant is part of a project to convert a 21- acre former concrete facility into conservation land and affordable housing. The project will remove old warehouses and concrete on part of the upland area and enable public access to a diverse wetland complex including an Atlantic white cedar swamp, a vernal pool, and coastal salt marsh. The project is divided into a housing parcel and conservation parcel. The property will be open to the public for passive recreation, including trails, canoeing and kayaking, and possibly a community garden.
Groton - Baddacook Pond II: $236,100
- 52 acres
- This project protects a portion of the eastern shore of Baddacook Pond. The parcel is adjacent to town water department and conservation land, includes wetlands, and falls within the protected zone of a town public water supply well.
Harwich-Fratus Project: $500,000
- 20 acres
- This project will preserve important habitat and is a well field recharge area for the sole source Monomoy Lens aquifer that supports eleven public drinking water well sites in Harwich and Chatham. The property was slated to become an 18-lot subdivision. The land connects to form 235 acres of contiguous permanently protected open space, a rare occurrence on Cape Cod. The property will be open to the public for walking and passive recreation on trails.
Lexington - Cotton Farm: $500,000
- 4 acres
- This acquisition, the site of a proposed nine lot subdivision, will protect the western portion of the 10-acre Cotton Farm and includes scenic upland fields, orchard, and oak woods near the headwaters of Vine Brook. It also protects town of Burlington public drinking water. The former owner will also give a 1.9-acre deed restriction on remaining Marrett Road frontage and a 14.5- acre parcel on Hartwell Avenue that abuts conservation land (total of 20.6 acres). The project parcel and donations will connect to over 200 acres of conservation land through trail easements.
Northampton - Mineral Hills: $135,960
- 30 acres
- This project, the culmination of 14-year effort to build the Mineral Hills Conservation Area, fills in a 30-acre gap along the Westhampton border and will allow the discontinuation of one half mile of town road. The site is the headwaters of three streams, and is BioMap Supporting Habitat.
Orleans - Putnam Farm: $187,200
- 14 acres
- This project preserves sensitive floodplain and enables the establishment of community gardens on a historic farm site. The property includes 360 feet of frontage on Boat Meadow Creek, falls within the Inner Cape Cod Bay Area of Critical Environmental Concern, and contains BioMap Core and Priority Habitat. The property abuts over 100 acres of protected open space, as well as the Cape Cod Rail Trail. It will be open to the public for passive trail-based recreation, as well as community gardening.
Provincetown - Hawthorne Wildlife Sanctuary: $343,265
- 3 acres
- This property was the last private in-holding in the ecologically sensitive Jimmy's Pond area. Its preservation completes a 17-acre conservation block and adds to the Provincetown Greenway wildlife migration corridor. Consisting of mixed wooded upland, open dune, and wetlands, the property is Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program Priority Habitat and BioMap Core Habitat. Public access will be provided through a network of trails. The Provincetown Conservation Trust will hold a conservation restriction on the property.
Scituate-Bates Lane Conservation Area: $500,000
- 54 acres
- This project includes multiple parcels in the Bates Lane Conservation Area and contains a mix of wooded upland, wetlands, stream frontage, vernal pools and Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program Priority Habitat. Protection will connect adjacent conservation parcels, protect an existing trail network, and improve access. The property will be open to the public for hiking, horseback riding, skiing, biking, and hunting. The local Maxwell Conservation Trust will hold the conservation restriction.
Templeton-Stonebridge Pond: $136,000
- 97 acres
- This property includes a diverse mixture of upland and wetland hardwood and softwood forests, shrub/scrub swamp, vernal pools, streams, and the shoreline of Stonebridge Pond. The project protects endangered species habitat and a public drinking water supply. The project, the first-ever LAND application for Templeton, also abuts the Ware River Rail Trail and the Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) Stonebridge Pond and is part of a large block of undeveloped land next to protected DCR watershed lands.
Upton - Sweetwilliam Farm: $500,000
- 87 acres
- This project will protect an active farm with a 150-plus member Community Supported Agriculture operation and farm stand in a combination fee and conservation restriction land acquisition. These 87 acres, mostly prime and statewide agricultural soils, are the remnant of the much larger homestead of Ephraim Whitney (Eli Whitney's grandfather), who settled it in the mid-1700s. The house dates from 1755. Approximately 80 percent of the property is forested with a variety of forest types in upland and wetland sites. The farm includes the headwaters of Warren Brook, abuts 2,000 plus acres of protected land, is in a state Area of Critical Environmental Concern, and includes Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program Priority Habitat. The farm will be open to the public for passive recreation along trails, creating a connection to other parcels.
Ware - Frohloff Farm: $140,000
- 86 acres
- The purchase of a conservation restriction on this farm property protects the land for agriculture, forestry, and public recreation along the Ware River, and is the town's first LAND application. The parcel is located at the southeastern edge of the Dougal Range, a conservation focus area of largely intact forest between Ware and Hardwick that has been supported by Conservation Partnership Grants. The acquisition includes Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program Priority Habitat and Living Waters Supporting Watershed, and is within a protected zone for Ware's municipal water supply. The East Quabbin Land Trust, which had the winning bid for this property against a developer seeking to build a 15-lot project, is seeking a conservation buyer to re-establish a small scale diversified farm on the property, as well as to engage in sustainable forestry.
Yarmouth - Alms House Road: $405,270
- 7 acres
- This project removes an existing dilapidated house and prevents construction of a larger new home on approximately one acre of upland forest draining into six acres of salt marsh. The parcel contains BioMap Core and Priority Habitats, abuts the 125-acre town-owned Callery-Darling Conservation Area, and lies within a larger block of conserved land. Preservation also provides an additional public access point and allows the extension of trails. Finally, this project protects scenic views of the north side marshes, Cape Cod Bay, and Sandy Neck beach and lighthouse.