BOSTON – March 13, 2013 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced a second round of grant awards through EEA’s Landscape Partnership Program, an initiative established in 2011 to permanently conserve Massachusetts’ best remaining large tracts of undeveloped land. Funding for this program is made available through the 2008 Environmental Bond.
Through this innovative program, the Patrick-Murray Administration is protecting large landscapes with high value for wildlife, drinking water protection, forestry, agriculture and tourism.
“Under the leadership of Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray, we have made historic gains in land protection, preserving more than 100,000 acres over the last six years,” said Secretary Sullivan. “The Landscape Partnership Program alone is helping to conserve over 12,000 acres, utilizing strong private-public partnerships to protect this precious space.”
The grants announced today support partnership projects that will be completed over the next 16 months. These projects are located in the Western Massachusetts communities of Leyden, Otis and Tyringham.
To qualify for grants, projects must include at least 500 acres, allow public access and applicants must form land conservation partnerships. For example, a state agency can partner with a non-profit or municipality, a non-profit can partner with a state agency or municipality, or a municipality can partner with a state agency or non-profit. The projects receiving grants today involve a spectrum of partners: three land trusts, a municipality, and two EEA agencies – Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) and Department of Fish and Game (DFG).
Because these two projects offer unique opportunities to achieve landscape conservation goals, EEA is committing to funding these two grants in FY 14 once additional partnerships are established or more non-state funding is secured.
The two projects are:
The Leyden Working Farms and Forests -- $1,079,300 -- (Franklin Land Trust, DAR, Town of Leyden, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust) – The project will permanently protect 802 acres through easements that maintain private ownership, support working farms and forests, and preserve the rural character of the community. Other benefits of this approach include continued property tax payments to the town of Leyden, reduced cost to the state and its partners, and guaranteed public access.
Long Mountain Conservation Project -- $850,000 -- (Berkshire Natural Resources Council, DFG) – This project will allow DFG to permanently protect a 906-acre parcel from Lyme Northern Timber Fund as a Wildlife Management Area. The property, which was highly threatened by development, will now remain a productive forest. In addition, an abutting private landowner is donating a conservation easement on a 597-acre parcel to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council. Collectively, approximately 1,500 acres will be protected, which has important significance for landscape conservation, wildlife habitat, public access and climate change adaptation.
“Massachusetts continues to lead the way in common sense land protection,” said Rep. Ann Gobi, Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These projects will provide for the continued stewardship of our precious natural resources.”
"Conservation is the first and most important step in making sure future generations have a Massachusetts as beautiful as the one we inherited,” said Sen. Benjamin B. Downing. “These projects help us along the way to that important goal."
"I am proud to stand with Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray and Secretary Sullivan in announcing these grants," Sen. Stan Rosenberg said. "These grants are further indications that our state government recognizes the enormous value - economic and environmental - of our forested land. My congratulations to all the people in Leyden, and all those involved with the Franklin Land Trust, the DAR and the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust for securing this substantial award."
“This is great news for the Berkshires. It rewards Otis and Tyringham for their continued commitment to protecting these special areas of the beautiful Berkshires,” said Rep. Smitty Pignatelli.
"I'm very happy that the Administration has chosen to award these funds for this project because preserving the natural beauty of our rural communities is vital to the future of Western Massachusetts,” said Rep. Paul Mark.
In addition, the program is implementing the top natural resource recommendation in the EEA’s Climate Change Adaptation Report – conservation of large forested tracts that protect wildlife corridors.
EEA designed the Landscape Partnership program to encourage non-governmental organizations, local communities and state environmental agencies to join forces on significant, complex projects that typically require the commitment of many partners, including multiple local organizations and a variety of state programs in order to succeed.
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