Sudbury receives $500,000 conservation grant

Published January 28, 2009 | Planning & Community Development | Automatically Archived on 3/1/2009

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Land conservation grants totaling $3.5 million were announced today by Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles will help nine Massachusetts municipalities purchase 1,150 acres of land to protect farms, wetlands, forests, and wildlife habitat.

The 10 Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grants will fund land conservation projects in Attleboro, Fairhaven, Gardner, Grafton, Mashpee, Northampton, Sudbury, Westminster, and Worcester.

“This program helps communities throughout the Bay State preserve forests, fields, riverbanks, farms, and wildlife habitat that contribute daily to the quality of life here,” Secretary Bowles said. “The grants announced today demonstrate what can be accomplished when the Commonwealth partners with cities and towns to safeguard significant natural resources.”

Sudbury received $500,000 for the  Nobscot Scout Reservation: $500,000. The 303-acre reservation in Sudbury and Framingham is one of the last large unprotected pieces of open space in the Metropolitan Boston area. Since 1928, the wooded parcel has been a Boy Scout camp and provided a place for outdoor recreation for the public. The parcel includes vernal pools, wetlands, headwater streams, and unfragmented forests, and is home to endangered species. The property connects to both Callahan State Park and Sudbury’s Tippling Rock and Nobscot Conservation Areas. The project, in cooperation with the Knox Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America, ensures that the area is preserved forever. The property provide public access to hiking trails, including part of the Bay Circuit Trail, and facilities for events.

Since 1961, EEA’s LAND (formerly known as Self-Help) awards have helped cities and towns acquire land for conservation and outdoor recreational uses such as hiking, wildlife watching, fishing, hunting, and cross-country skiing. Funding for LAND grants comes from the $1.7 billion Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in August 2008.

To qualify for the reimbursement grants, communities must fund the projects up-front through local, federal, or private sources and the protected open space must be open to the public. Municipalities may use grant funds for outright land purchases or partial interests, such as conservation restrictions, and for associated acquisition costs.

This year’s first grant round of $3.5 million leveraged $13 million additional non-state dollars raised by cities and towns, land trusts, and through private fundraising.

The grants include six projects in Central Massachusetts, two in Southeastern Massachusetts, and one project each in the Berkshires, and the Cape Cod and Islands regions.

The grants fund nine projects to protect rare species habitat and one project that connects 2,000-plus acres of conservation land. Several projects also add to contiguous areas of protected land including six projects protecting key water resources; two projects protecting working farms; seven projects protecting regional trails and greenways; and two projects protecting archaeological or historical sites.

EEA expects to award a second round of 2009 grants in the spring of 2009. The application deadline for the spring grants is Thursday, March 12, 2009 by 3 p.m. For more information go to: http://www.mass.gov/eea/dcs_grant_programs .

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