BOSTON —Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Ian Bowles today announced $495,650 in FY 2010 Conservation Partnership Grants that will enable nine non-profit organizations to preserve 481 acres of open space from Cape Cod to the Berkshires.
“These grants are vital to realizing Governor Patrick’s commitment to land conservation,” Secretary Bowles said. “Our conservation partners recognized today are key players in the effort to protect our Commonwealth’s precious natural resources.”
At 481 acres, the grant round announced today is the largest in acreage since the Conservation Partnership Program began. The grants are designed to help non-profit organizations purchase land or interests in land (such as conservation restrictions) for conservation or recreation. Grant recipients must convey a perpetual conservation restriction to either the community where a project exists or to a state agency, and protected property must provide a public benefit. The maximum grant award this year is $85,000. Grants finance no more than half of total project costs.
“It is a pleasure to know that a hardworking non-profit organization such as the Wareham Land Trust will be receiving a grant that will help the town move forward with their conservation plan. This parcel of land will not only serve as a connection to already designated conservation land, but it will also contribute to the community in many ways. Our shorelines are a valuable resource that needs constant protection. In order to safeguard the habitats and natural resources they provide, we must be proactive in preserving their integrity and future,” said Sen. Marc Pacheco.
“On Cape Cod and the Islands, our land is one of our greatest assets,” said State Senator O’Leary. “This investment by the Commonwealth will allow for the further protection of resources, increase access to our beautiful scenery and allow towns to preserve our fragile habitats for generations to come.”
"I applaud the administration's investment in conserving open space in western Massachusetts,” said State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing. “The partners involved in making this project a reality deserve a great deal of credit for preserving our natural resources for years to come."
“I am pleased that this funding has been made available for use in the area around Southwick Pond Brook,” said Sen. Michael Moore. “This area provides beautiful recreational facilities for residents of Leicester, Worcester, and surrounding communities. This project will expand what is already available, and create additional opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities.”
“I wish to thank Secretary Bowles for this grant. This money will help to ensure that this farm is protected from development and that it will be available for the public to enjoy.” said Rep. Denis E. Guyer
“Once again, the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs has come through for conservation. Their partnership in land acquisition and open space preservation in the 2nd Essex District has been outstanding,” said Rep. Harriett Stanley
“I am very pleased that the Greater Worcester Land Trust was successful in obtaining this funding,” said Rep. John J. Binienda. “Increasing opportunity for recreational activities such as bird watching, fishing, and hiking will improve public health and help the local economy.”
Proposed projects are evaluated and selected based on their ability to conserve biodiversity, protect water quality, promote recreation, and preserve working farms and forests. This year’s projects include properties that enlarge or connect to other conservation land, increase opportunity for hiking and other passive recreation, are near wetlands, or contain prime agricultural soils or important wildlife habitat.
The nine awards announced today include:
· Greater Worcester Land Trust - $46,000 for 4.6 acres of open field and frontage on Southwick Pond Brook, a wooded area with an historic fieldstone-lined cart path running through it. The project will create a greenway that includes hiking trails and access to Southwick Pond.
· Harwich Conservation Trust -$54,000 for seven acres on Coy’s Brook that will link multiple parcels of conservation land. The property is protected habitat for rare species.
· Orleans Conservation Trust - $85,000 for nearly two acres that will link more than 100 acres of conservation land between Twinings Pond and Pleasant Bay. The property will also protect a walking trail and add a pedestrian access point to the pond.
· Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation - $85,000 for a 35-acre property in the towns of North Andover and Boxford that is part of 195 acres of forests, fields and wetlands on the horse farm, which provides riding services for disabled individuals.
· Brewster Conservation Trust - $12,500 for 2.3acres of wooded swamp wetlands and former cranberry bog that will protect shoreline along the Upper Mill Pond and provide public access to the pond.
· Nantucket Land Council - $52,000 for a 190-acre project that makes up two-thirds of Muskeget Island, which is home to several gull colonies, and is the breeding ground for piping plovers, least terns and American oystercatchers. It is the largest breeding ground for gray seals in the United States.
· Hilltown Land Trust - $55,000 for a 131-acre farm across from the Cummington Fairgrounds that was active from 1779 to 1965.
· Wareham Land Trust - $49,650 for 2.5 acres on Mark’s Cove that will connect 112 acres of existing protected open space along the coast.
· Essex County Greenbelt Association - $56,500 for four parcels totaling 106 acres in the Parker River watershed. The property will be open to the public for walking, passive recreation and educational purposes.
EEA’s Conservation Partnership Program has protected 1,326acres of land since it was established in 2006. Funding for Conservation Partnership grants comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in August.