This week, we received some most welcome news: the Town of Middleboro Conservation Commission qualified for a Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (“LAND”) Grant award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the Lions Head Peninsula land acquisition project.
The Lions Head Peninsula Project will preserve 81 acres of diverse woodland, floodplain, and frontage along the lower Nemasket River in Middleboro, just east of the Nemasket’s confluence with the federally-designated Wild and Scenic Taunton River. The Property is within areas designated by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as important habitat areas for two rare species, the Northern Red-Bellied Cooter and the Eastern Box Turtle, and also includes at least two potential vernal pools. It also includes the unique landscape feature known as the Lions Head, which viewed from above appears to many as resembling the head of a large feline (take a look at the above photo and judge for yourself).
The project will enable public access for a wide range of passive recreational pursuits. The Lions Head property contains an existing network of woods roads and footpaths that collectively comprise about one mile, and will link with trails on adjacent properties. These new linkages will create an expanded trail system near the confluence of the Nemasket and Taunton Rivers, and represent a true community resource.
Owned by the Jigerjian family for over 30 years, the Lions Head property has been a preservation priority for the Town, the Trust, and others for decades because of its extensive riparian frontage, rare species habitat, and proximity to protected open space parcels along the lower Nemasket River corridor. Representatives from the Trust and the Town maintained a dialogue over the years with the Jigerjians that eventually culminated in the deal negotiated by Middleboro Conservation Agent Tricia Cassady to preserve the property.
Around in various iterations since the early 1960’s, the LAND Grant Program provides funding to municipalities for land preservation projects, and is often an essential component of a project’s funding structure. For this project, the $400,000 LAND Grant award represents half of the $800,000 purchase price, with Middleboro Community Preservation Act open space funds and funding from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation comprising the balance. The Nature Conservancy also contributed funds for due diligence.
As Tricia noted, “the Middleboro Conservation Commission is excited about receiving a LAND Grant award for the Jigerjian project, which will preserve extensive frontage along the Nemasket River and the distinctive Lions Head peninsula. The Jigerjian family long wished to see their property preserved, and the LAND Grant award is a critical catalyst toward this outcome.”
The Lions Head property will represent an outstanding and substantial addition to Middleboro’s open space portfolio, and on a larger scale, to the mosaic of conservation lands along the Wild and Scenic Taunton River corridor. The Trust is pleased to be collaborating with Tricia and the Conservation Commission on the project, and we look forward to co-holding a Conservation Restriction on the property with DCR.
- Scott MacFaden, Director of Land Protection at Wildlands Trust