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BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $2,546,923 to 12 communities to protect over 660 acres of land through the Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grant Program. The grant program, overseen by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ (EEA) Division of Conservation Services (DCS), seeks to address climate change and protect biodiversity within the Commonwealth.
“Our administration continues to invest in open space and habitat conservation to ensure that individuals and families across the Commonwealth have an opportunity to experience everything our state’s natural environment has to offer,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Importantly, these visionary local projects will protect over 660 acres of beautiful open space and wildlife habitat for generations to come.”
“Municipal partnerships are very important to our administration, and we are committed to continuing to work with local communities to expand and conserve public land,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Critical funding like the Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity Grants will help ensure Massachusetts’ cities and towns are able to protect natural environments for their residents to enjoy.”
The LAND Program (formerly the Self-Help Program) was established in 1961 to assist municipal conservation commissions in acquiring land for natural resource protection and passive outdoor recreation purposes. Any municipal conservation commission with an approved Open Space and Recreation Plan is eligible to apply for this program.
“Supporting municipalities in conserving their natural resources and enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities is part of a longstanding tradition of the Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity Grant Program,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting municipalities’ efforts toward protecting the environment and addressing climate change.”
Below are the Fiscal Year 2018 LAND Grant awardees:
Epstein Pond Protection
This project will protect one of the largest ponds in Amherst and provide connectivity to the Mount Holyoke Range while creating public access to water-based recreation.
Great Oak Farm
The Town of Berlin will acquire a conservation restriction over what was once the largest organic farm in the Commonwealth. The property is located in the foothills of the Wattaquodock Range. In addition to protecting the farm, this project will preserve a scenic view that is important to the town and its residents.
Mader Town Forest
The project will conserve 86 acres of land in the vicinity of the Holland Glen Conservation Area, consisting of a steep hillside with a scenic vista, a popular place for hiking, and a recharge area for Jabbish Brook - a water supply for Belchertown and the City of Springfield.
Meetinghouse Road Aquifer
The Town of Brewster will acquire a large block of pine-oak forest for wildlife habitat and aquifer protection. Trails on this property will add to the Brewster Walking Trails and will connect to an adjacent 60-acre conservation property.
Kendall Cranberry Bog
The Town of Dunstable will acquire a 12-acre property along Salmon Brook which will create a connection between two protected parcels - the Amos Kendall Conservation Area and the 400-acre Kennedy Conservation Area for watershed protection and access to water-based recreation.
Tony Andrews Farm
The Town of Falmouth will acquire a 34-acre historic working farm property along the Coonamessett River for watershed protection and the creation of a public walking path that will be part of the Coonamessett Greenway Project.
Bailey Brook Conservation Area
The project will protect 94 acres of upland forest and wetlands and over 2,500 feet along Bailey Brook. The project will connect protected open space between the 19th Hill Conservation Area in Winchendon and Gardner, creating a conserved landscape in the Bailey Brook corridor.
Lancaster Town Forest Expansion II
This project will preserve 28.6 acres of land comprised of BioMap Core, Spotted Turtle habitat, and prime forest soils. This project will conserve undeveloped land abutting the Town Forest and will expand passive recreational opportunities.
This project will conserve two woodland parcels that will become part of a greenway from Peaked Mountain to the Miller Forest. The parcels are habitat for various turtle species, including the Eastern Box Turtle.
Camp Edith Read
The Town of Norton will acquire 46 acres of upland forest and a wetland with 2,600 linear feet bordering the Wading River for conservation and water-based recreation. The property is currently used by local scouting groups.
Brook Corridor Fields
This project will preserve one of the last pieces of open space in Downtown Plymouth in a BioMap2 Core area, while creating an opportunity for public access to recreation.
Fernald Corp. Conservation Acquisition
The project comprises four woodland parcels, owned by the Fernald Corp., a mental health institution, abutting the Templeton Development Center. The project seeks to provide a connection to existing protected lands and will serve as a catalyst for future conservation efforts.
St. Vincent De Paul Camp
This acquisition will preserve the former St. Vincent De Paul Camp site from development. The property is comprised of 30 acres of wooded swamps and Marbled Salamander habitat and will abut a planned community park.
“We must continue to take concrete steps to protect our open space and advance climate change resilience in our communities to better prepare for the future effects of global warming,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “By ensuring that we are committed to working with our communities to address the future impacts of climate change, we are doing our part to conserve our natural resources in the Commonwealth.”
“Our natural spaces are some of the most important resources we have in western mass, and Amherst has always prioritized the protection of and access to such spaces,” said State Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose (D- Amherst). “I'm happy for the town's receipt of this LAND grant and the support the state is showing.”
“The Grant Award for Norton to acquire 46 acres of upland forest and wetland near the Wading River is great thing for the town,” said State Representative Jay Barrows (R-Mansfield). “The land would be utilized for sustainable large blocks of conservation areas, in order to create wildlife corridors. It is great to see Norton as the recipient of this grant.”
“I would like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration and Secretary Beaton for awarding the Town of Norton a $308,192 Land Grant Award,” said State Senator Paul R. Feeney (D-Foxborough). “I am glad that these grant monies will be used to protect the Wading River and keep this recreation space open so the Camp Edith Read can continue to provide recreational opportunities for years to come.”
“I am very fortunate to represent communities that value open space and conservation of our natural resources and I appreciate that the administration is showing their support as well,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These grants are critical to ensuring that future generations will also be able to enjoy these environmentally sensitive areas.”
“This is great news for the town of Monson as well as the entire Commonwealth,” said State Representative Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow). “This land grant will help to preserve our natural resources. I am grateful that Secretary Beaton and the Baker-Polito Administration chose Monson as one of the twelve recipients for the Natural Diversity Land Grant.”
“I would like to thank Secretary Beaton and the Baker-Polito Administration for their continuing work, with financial support with grants such as this one, to assist Massachusetts communities' efforts to acquire and provide open spaces for our citizens,” said State Representative Steve Howitt (R-Seekonk).
For more information regarding the Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Program, please visit EEA’s website.