We are pleased to announce today that Wildlands Trust has received a donation of 273 acres of land in Plymouth, the largest single land acquisition for Wildlands Trust in our 44 year history. This magnificent property contains about one mile of frontage on Great South Pond, a unique Coastal Plain Pond. Jerry and Maureen Sheehan donated the Property to Wildlands Trust so that this fragile habitat remain protected and cared for in perpetuity.
“This area has held a special meaning for generations of our family, and many other families in the area. We acquired various parcels of this land over 50 years from several local landowners who used the land for deer and duck hunting, fishing and wildlife observation. We are pleased the land will be preserved for future generations and that the extraordinary biodiversity there will be able to thrive. Mrs. Sheehan and I are proud to give back to our community by conserving a special part of the Town’s landscape and heritage,” said Jerry Sheehan.
The property is a part of a globally rare ecosystem known as the Pine Barrens and is home to several types of rare plants and animals. The land is in the proposed “Great Thicket” National Wildlife Refuge, a project of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intended to help address wildlife decline in the Northeast U.S.
The property directly abuts other significant conservation lands in the area, including Wildlands' 23-acre Domero Cortelli Preserve, acquired with the support of the Sheehan Family Foundation in the early 2000’s, the Plymouth Town Forest, and the Myles Standish State Forest.
Together, these conservation lands total 15,000 acres of greenspace -- an area that is unequaled in Southeastern Massachusetts for its scale, concentrations of rare species, and opportunities for passive recreation.
The protected land contains a wonderfully diverse mosaic of Pine-Scrub Oak and Pine Oak woodlands, coastal plain pond habitat, diverse topography, and retired cranberry bogs. It serves as a buffer zone around Great South Pond, helping to preserve water quality. It will also help protect the federally designated Plymouth-Carver Sole Source Aquifer, a 199-square mile aquifer serving eight towns that is highly vulnerable to pollution. In addition to donating the land, Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan established a stewardship endowment at Wildlands Trust to fund the oversight and protection of the property.
“On behalf of our Board of Directors, staff, and members, we wish to express our deepest gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan for entrusting this unique property to Wildlands Trust," said Karen Grey, the Trust’s Executive Director. “The Great South Pond property is the largest parcel that Wildlands Trust has obtained in our 44-year history, but even more importantly, it is one of the most ecologically significant in the region. It provides habitat for multiple rare species, including several globally rare species, and helps to protect Great South Pond’s water quality. We look forward to continuing the Sheehans’ exemplary stewardship of this important piece of land.”
“The Great South Pond land donation is the latest in a long-running series of conservation projects the Sheehan family has enabled," said Grey. “Without their consistent support for the conservation work that we and others do, Southeastern Massachusetts would be a much lesser place - less green, less healthy, and with a diminished quality of life.”
Wildlands Trust intends to establish public access over a trail corridor linking the Plymouth Town Forest with Myles Standish State Forest.