For Immediate Release - December 21, 2012

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MURRAY ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH NONPROFIT GROUPS TO PROTECT 212 ACRES ACROSS THE COMMONWEALTH

Also announces PARC grants for the communities of Leominster, Millbury and Worcester

WORCESTER – Friday, December 21, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray joined Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today to award $504,117 in grants to seven nonprofit organizations to preserve 212 acres of open space across Massachusetts.

“Since 2007, our Administration has made historic efforts in land conservation by focusing on investing in urban parks, preserving working farms and forests, and protecting large natural landscapes,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “Parks strengthen the fabric of our communities and the investment we are making in Elm Park, and in communities across the Commonwealth will provide municipalities the opportunity to enhance, beautify and improve these valuable resources.”

Awarded through the EEA’s Conservation Partnership Grant Program, these grants help nonprofit organizations leverage funds to purchase land for conservation or recreation.

"Under the leadership of Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray, we continue our mission of protecting clean water, critical habitat and working landscapes throughout the Commonwealth," said Secretary Sullivan. "One tool is the Conservation Partnership Grant Program, helping to provide opportunities for residents and visitors alike to enjoy public outdoor spaces while providing long-term protection of valuable natural resources.”

EEA evaluates and selects proposed projects based on their ability to conserve biodiversity, protect water quality, promote recreation, and preserve working farms and forests. Projects this year include properties that enlarge or connect to other conservation land, expand recreational trail networks, protect working farms or preserve important fish and wildlife habitats.

The awards will fund projects in Marstons Mills, Middleborough, Ware, West Brookfield, Hampden, Westford, Westport, and Worcester.

The Conservation Partnership Grant awards are as follows:

Greater Worcester Land Trust – Tetasset Ridge Trail – Fowler Brook South Fork Project, Worcester – $57,367.50 that will leverage the protection of 5.2 acres of land in addition to the 13.4 acres being acquired through this grant award.

Barnstable Land Trust – Head of Marstons Mills River Project, Marstons Mills – $85,000 to protect 1.2 acres of land and freshwater wetlands, the Marstons Mills River herring run, and the quality of public drinking water.

Buzzards Bay Coalition – Rocky Gutter Wildlife Corridor Project, Middleborough – $60,000 to protect 29.4 acres of land that provide an important buffer to the headwater wetland areas that contain wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.

East Quabbin Land Trust – Pynchon’s Grist Mill Acquisition Project, West Brookfield – $35,000 to protect a 42.4 acre site that contains a grist mill dating back to 1669.

East Quabbin Land Trust – Klassanos Conservation Restriction Acquisition Project, Ware – $56,750 to add 49.2 acres of protected land to the already protected 100-acre Hyde Woodlot that will purchased in 2009 with another Conservation Partnership grant.

Minnechaug Land Trust – West Brook Project, Hampden - $40,000 to protect 21.9 acres of land, portions of which contain West Brook and is a short distance to the Goat Rock trailhead, land protected under a previous Conservation Partnership grant.

Sudbury Valley Trustees – O’Brien Farm Conservation Project, Westford – $85,000 that will permanently prohibit future development on 23 of the farm’s 25 acres while allowing the land to be used for conservation, recreation, agriculture, forestry, and educational purposes.

Westport Land Conservation Trust – Noquochoke River Conservation Project, Westport – $85,000 to protect 32.5 acres of land that provide a connection between the subject property and the land trust’s Forget Pond Conservation Area, protecting a total of 63 acres of land.

Funding for Conservation Partnership grants comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008. Since then, the Conservation Partnership Program has awarded 100 projects resulting in the protection of 3,141 acres with an investment of $5.1 million in EEA funding.

Lieutenant Governor Murray and Secretary Sullivan also announced that $629,406 in grants have been awarded to Leominster, Millbury and Worcester that will enhance parks and recreational facilities in those three communities as the part of the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Program.

The PARC Grant Awards are as follows:

Worcester – Elm Park Renovation Phase II ($400,000) – The project will include upgrading the current walkways to new ADA accessible walkways, pond edge improvements, upgrades to the pond outfall/outlet structure, upgrading of the current park lighting system, the replacement of benches and picnic tables, the redesign of the four corner nodes of the facility and the review/evaluation of the Fisher Boy Fountain. This grant continues improvements at Elm Park begun with a previous PARC grant.

Leominster – Southeast Playground ($184,606) – The project will include the development of a new playground.

Millbury – Woolie World Improvement Project ($44,800) – The project will include the replacement of two play structures, the addition of a learning wall and a swing set, the planting of nine trees, the construction of stone dust ADA accessible pathways and the addition of one accessible parking space.

“I am pleased that the Patrick/Murray Administration is making this crucial investment in our parks, and am delighted they have chosen Elm Park, one of the first public parks in the United States, to make this important announcement,” said state Senator Harriette Chandler.

The PARC Program (formerly the Urban Self-Help Program) was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. Financed by Massachusetts’ environmental bond fund, the program was created to support land acquisition and the construction, or renovation of recreation facilities – such as spray parks, community gardens, and playgrounds.

Grant applications are assessed based on criteria such as project quality and demographics, with preference given to park projects located close to urban centers and public transportation or serving environmental justice populations. These populations are defined as neighborhoods where the median annual household income is at or below 65 percent of the statewide median income or 25 percent or more of the residents are a minority, foreign born or lacking in English language proficiency.

EEA will be awarding a total of 25 PARC grants for a total investment of more than $8 million to help municipalities acquire parkland, renovate existing parks or build new parks and other outdoor recreation facilities.

The application process for PARC grants is open each spring to all 351 cities and towns across the Commonwealth that have an up-to-date Open Space and Recreation Plan.

Over the past five years the Patrick-Murray Administration has invested more than $300 million in land conservation, resulting in the permanent protection of more than 100,000 acres of land and the renovation or creation of more than 150 parks.

 ###

Follow Lieutenant Governor Murray on Twitter - View Lieutenant Governor Murray's Photos