Closing Out the Fiscal Year in Style

The last two months of our fiscal year witnessed closings on a set of diverse projects in Duxbury, Bridgewater, Plymouth, and Marshfield.  Landscapes protected by these projects include salt marsh, river frontage, pond frontage, and a property that helps protect Marshfield’s water supply.

 

Nash Saltmarsh Donation, Duxbury

In May, Emily Nash Hunnewell donated three acres of salt marsh along the Bluefish River in Duxbury.  The property is part of a large expanse of salt marsh along the lower Bluefish River, which drains into Duxbury Bay., and sits just across the river from our 25-acre Captain David Cushman Jr. Preserve.

Salt marshes are some of the most productive ecosystems on earth, and among other attributes capture and slowly release storm surges, and provide habitat for a wide range of aquatic and avian species.

Emily made this donation in honor of her late parents John and Polly, who acquired the property in 1972.  Many thanks to Emily and her brother Tim for entrusting this property to our permanent stewardship. 

 

Taunton River WMA Expansion, Bridgewater

On June 12, we acquired 62 acres along the federally designated Wild and Scenic Taunton River in Bridgewater.

This new acquisition includes approximately one half-mile of river frontage, six potential vernal pools, and is partially within Natural Heritage Program-designated Bio Map 2 “Core Habitat” and “Critical Natural Landscape” areas.  It also enhances opportunities for establishing trail linkages, including a proposed Taunton River Trail. 

From a larger landscape perspective, the property directly abuts and is downstream from our adjacent Great River Preserve, which in turn is part of a larger Taunton River Wildlife Management Area.  Between the Mass. Department of Fish and Game and Wildlands Trust, this WMA now encompasses 488 acres on both sides of the river (ed. note—see below for an update on the WMA’s acreage).

The Taunton River Stewardship Council, established in conjunction with the river’s designation by Congress in 2009 as a National Wild and Scenic River, contributed $6000 to the project. 

We held this land for but a few weeks, transferring it to DFG on June 27.  Land trusts will occasionally “pre-acquire” properties for public agency partners in this manner.  We are pleased to partner with DFG on this project, and look forward to future collaborations along the Taunton River and its tributaries. 

Late breaking news:  on June 30, as we were going to press with this acquisitions update, our colleagues at DFG acquired an additional 81 acres on the upstream end of the Taunton River WMA!  This latest acquisition further expands the WMA, which now stands at 570 acres, and enhances the largest contiguous conservation reserve along the upper Taunton River.  

 

Halfway Pond Conservation Area Expansion, Plymouth

 A view of Halfway Pond from he Big Point Trail in the Wildlands Trust's Halfway Pond Conservation Area in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Thanks to the generosity of a private donor, we acquired a vital 10.2-acre parcel on Halfway Pond on June 16.  The subject property includes over 400 feet of frontage on the pond, is entirely wooded upland, and directly abuts and expands our Halfway Pond Conservation Area, which now encompasses most of the land around the pond’s western shore. 

The Halfway Pond Conservation Area is one of our oldest and most cherished protected landscapes, and in conjunction with the adjacent Myles Standish State Forest is part of a 19,000-acre greenbelt corridor—the largest such corridor in Southeastern Massachusetts. 

 

Furnace Brook Watershed CPA CR, Marshfield

As part of celebrating the Summer Solstice, on June 21 we completed a Conservation Restriction on a 7.7-acre parcel in west-central Marshfield, near the intersection of Furnace and Main Streets. 

The Town of Marshfield acquired the property earlier this year with a combination of Community Preservation Act and Drinking Water Supply Grant program funds.  Administered by the Commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Protection, the Drinking Water Supply grant program provides municipalities with funding for the preservation of properties that are significant for water supply and aquifer protection. 

It is difficult to envision a property that more closely aligns with the Drinking Water Supply Grant program’s priorities.  It is entirely within a Mass. DEP-designated Zone II Water Supply Protection Area, is situated approximately 600 feet from a Zone I Wellhead Protection Area, and is within a High-Yield Aquifer Area. 

The property also includes extensive frontage on Furnace Brook, is within Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program-designated rare species habitat, and joins with and expands the town’s 200-acre Furnace Brook Watershed Area, which in turn connects with the 800-acre Carolina Hill Reservation to create the largest contiguous open space assemblage in Marshfield. 

Kudos to Marshfield Open Space Chair Karen O’Donnell for her tireless efforts toward qualifying for the Drinking Water Supply Grant, and ensuring that the CR was completed well before the June 30 deadline.