AMHERST – Wednesday, December 5, 2012 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced 13 Massachusetts municipalities have been awarded land conservation grants totaling more than $3 million that will help protect 862 acres of farms, wetlands, forests, and wildlife habitat.
The Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grants will fund land conservation projects in Amherst, Barre, Belchertown, Conway, Granby, Groton, Hopkinton, Middleton, Northampton, Southampton, Southwick, Sudbury and Townsend.
Since 2007, the Patrick-Murray Administration has conserved more than 100,000 acres of land throughout the Commonwealth. Under this unprecedented effort, more than 16,000 acres in 10 habitat reserves – the most pristine habitats – have been preserved, and more than 150 parks have been created or restored.
The 13 grants announced today will help fund a variety of projects – including one in Amherst that will protect one of the few large remaining unprotected parcels along the Mt. Holyoke Range. Other grants will fund projects to connect open space and trail networks, and protect rare species habitat, viewsheds, key water resources, and working farms and forests.
“With Governor Patrick’s dedication and leadership to land conservation, we’ve achieved some significant results in partnership with municipal officials, private land owners, and land trusts,” said Secretary Sullivan. “Through partnering with communities, we are leveraging further investment in our local economies, preserving open space for public recreation, and protecting vital wetlands and wildlife habitat.”
The following communities have been selected to receive LAND grant funding:
- Sudbury – Pantry Brook Farm – $400,000 to acquire a conservation restriction on 94 acres of a large historic farm located inside Route 495. This property has been in agricultural use under a single family since the 1700s, and will continue to be farmed. Public access will be focused on the wooded area on the eastern portion of the property. The property connects to Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and includes 5,000 feet of shoreline on Pantry and Saw Mill brooks.
- Amherst – Ricci Acquisition: Protecting the Holyoke Range – $353,500 to protect 20 acres, one of the largest remaining unprotected parcels along the Holyoke Range. Adjacent to town conservation land and the Mount Holyoke Range State Park, it will be open for passive recreation and includes a scenic overlook.
- Barre – Patterson Farm – $79,800 to acquire a 25-acre conservation restriction on Patterson Farm, located in an important block of protected land, including Mass Audubon’s Rutland Brook Sanctuary and several agriculture preservation restrictions. Agriculture will continue, but the restriction will allow public access for hunting, fishing, bird watching, and other passive activities.
- Belchertown – Mead’s Corner Conservation Area – $340,000 to acquire an 88-acre property adjacent to the UMass Cadwell Memorial Forest and the City of Springfield Water District's Knights Pond. The area will be open to the public and accessible from the adjacent New England National Scenic Trail and existing trails on the property.
- Conway – Batchelder Property – $1,054 to acquire a small riverfront parcel, which has been classified as BioMap2 Core and Critical Natural Landscape, on Main Street in historic Conway Center. The area will be maintained as a passive park with benches for water viewing and bike racks.
- Granby – Emily Partyka Conservation Area – $37,365 to preserve a large, 147 acre wooded property including most of the frontage around Forge Pond. It will provide a non-motorized boat launch, parking, and access to existing informal trails. The town plans to construct a footbridge that will allow foot access to the eastern portion of property.
- Hopkinton – Elmwood Farm – $400,000 to preserve an 85-acre historic farm in a scenic part of town that is the former site of the Brigham Hill Community Barn, which engages volunteers to grow food for the Worcester County Food Bank. Preservation will also protect a portion of the aquifer for the town's new well.
- Middleton – East Street Land Acquisition – $56,000 to protect 19 acres of open space adjacent to three newly planned major residential subdivisions. The property contains a hayfield, wet meadow and wooded wetland, and land classified as BioMap2 Core and Critical Natural Landscape.
- Northampton – Broad Brook Gap – $326,400 to protect 80 acres, which is the largest private holding in the 900+ acre Broad Brook/Fitzgerald Lake Greenway. The diverse property includes wetlands, forested uplands, open fields, frontage along Broad Brook, and important habitat. The property already has a historic trail system linking to the Fitzgerald Lake network.
- Southwick – Kellogg property – $356,400 to purchase three parcels – a total of 134 acres – which are part of a historic farm, owned by the Kellogg family since 1712. The area includes mature upland forest, streams, fields and wetlands.
- Townsend – Genova/Tucker – $35,547 to purchase a 35-acre inholding in the Old Meetinghouse Park. It will bring the total park area to nearly 300 acres, and connect with nearby Squannacook River Wildlife Management Area. The park trail network will be extended onto this parcel, to allow better public access for activities such as hiking, skiing, biking, and hunting.
- Groton – Chicopee Row Woods – $400,000 to purchase 109-acre mature forested property. The property is located adjacent to several existing conservation areas. Property includes numerous vernal pools, wetlands, and small fields. This property has narrowly missed development on multiple occasions, and will now be open to the public for passive recreation.
- Southampton – Southampton Greenway – $225,720 to purchase 26 acres of an unused railroad line that runs nearly the entire length of Southampton (4.25 miles), to be converted to a multi-use recreational trail to be called the Southampton Greenway. The trail will connect to the Manhan Rail Trail at the Easthampton line, and will help connect more than 600 acres of protected land and working farms and forests.
"I am extremely pleased that the Patrick-Murray administration has provided a generous land grant of $400,000 to protect 94 acres of public land in Sudbury,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge. “The town of Sudbury has always placed a priority on protecting open space and expanding recreational opportunities for its residents, while also working to maintain the biodiversity of all wildlife and plant life in the town."
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 the grants comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in 2008. To qualify for the reimbursement grants, communities must fund projects upfront 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.