For Immediate Release - July 28, 2011

State and Local Wildlife Officials Celebrate Land Acquisition in Newbury

24.5-acre parcel adds key acreage and enhanced access to state Wildlife Management Area

NEWBURY - July 28, 2011 - Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) and the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board were joined by conservation partners today to celebrate the recent addition of a 24.5-acre parcel to the Commonwealth's Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

"Acquiring this land preserves an important wildlife habitat and underscores the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to land conservation," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., whose office includes DFG. "We couldn't have achieved this without the help of our partners in Essex County and the town of Newbury."

The new addition to the Martin Burns WMA brings a key parcel to the 1,600-acre property owned and managed by MassWildlife. This purchase prevented the fragmentation of habitat that would have occurred if the area was developed. Preservation of this parcel will protect vital upland forested habitat for vernal pool species such as wood frogs and spotted salamanders.

"Not only does this parcel help protects wildlife habitat, it also safeguards an important water supply zone in the Artichoke Reservoir watershed for the city of Newburyport," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "We truly appreciate the commitment of Governor Patrick and Secretary Sullivan to land protection that made this acquisition possible, as well the contributions of our conservation partners, who provided substantial donations to make this project a reality."

Support for this effort was provided by the Essex County League of Sportsmen, Parker River Clean Water Association, Essex County Greenbelt Association, Jim LeBoeuf, Jr. of Northern Ocean Marine, Inc., Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation and Newbury town officials.

"For years the Martin Burns WMA has been prized by sportsmen, conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts for its preservation of essential habitat, watershed, and the special opportunities that come from experiencing the outdoors. Now this great resource is growing stronger through the work of dedicated people who have woven together the complex pieces that allow it to grow by a remarkable 24.5 acres in a time when resources are extremely limited," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.

The Commonwealth expended $460,000 on the purchase, using a combination of open space bond funds and Land Stamp revenue derived from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses - with $35,000 privately raised to augment the state's investment.

"By securing this parcel, opportunity and access to Martin Burns WMA for hunting and other wildlife-related recreation has been greatly improved," said George Darey, Chairman of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. Darey also noted the sellers worked with MassWildlife to create an access road for future habitat management activities.

MassWildlife has actively restored shrubland throughout the WMA. As a result, whip-poor-wills are back, woodcock numbers are increasing, and some state-listed amphibians, reptiles, and butterfly species have started to rebound. Other native wildlife that inhabit the WMA include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, gray squirrels, raccoons, and foxes.

"Essex County Greenbelt congratulates the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game on this important new acquisition," said Ed Becker, executive director of the Essex County Greenbelt Association. "It protects critical wildlife habitat and adds to a significant conservation area. Greenbelt was happy to play a small role in its protection, and we greatly appreciate the longstanding partnership in conservation between our organization and Fish and Game."

This acquisition will preserve and improve hunting opportunities in the WMA. Deer and pheasant hunting access within Martin Burns WMA would have been reduced by a proposed 21-house subdivision close to the WMA boundary, and more than 20 acres of land within the existing WMA would have been off-limits to hunting if the proposed development project went through.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. 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 rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.