State again has more protected acres than developed ones


Some great news coming out of Boston on the land front. It[‘s great to hear the administration cares about our environment and here is what’s going on just this past week with the purchase of 14 parcels of land.

In keeping with Gov. Patrick’s unprecedented commitment to preserve open space and improve public parks across the state, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles today announced $6.3 million in grants to help 19 Massachusetts municipalities purchase 880 acres to protect recreational land, drinking water aquifers, wetlands, and wildlife habitat.

A spokesman for Gov. Patrick commented that investments like these conserve and protect urban parks, farmland and forests across the commonwealth for generations to come. Our open spaces are among the things that make Massachusetts such a desirable place to live. What we protect is as important as what we build.

Over the past four years, the commonwealth has protected nearly 75,000 acres — the equivalent 54 acres per day. Among the Patrick-Murray Administration’s conservation accomplishments are the creation of 44 new urban parks, the protection of 5,700 acres on 95 farms, preservation of land with nearly 30,000 acres of prime farm and forest soils, and protection of 14,000 acres in 10 areas of critical forested landscape habitats across Massachusetts. In addition, the commonwealth has protected 9,300 acres within a half mile of drinking water reservoirs across the state.

Massachusetts now has more than 1.2 million acres permanently protected. For the first time in decades, the acres of land protected from development in Massachusetts are greater than acres that have been developed. This for the most part because of the economy slowdown which makes money go a bit further. So strike while you can and make some great deals for thousands of years to come.

These grants enable municipalities across Massachusetts to set aside land specifically for recreation, habitat conservation and farming and preservation of precious water resources. With the hard work of state and municipal officials, land trusts, community organizations, and private citizens, we have protected wetlands, fields and woodlands throughout our state.

Since 1961, EEA’s LAND (formerly known as Self-Help) grants have helped cities and towns acquire land for conservation and outdoor recreational uses such as hiking, wildlife watching, biking, fishing, hunting, and cross-country skiing. Funding for the fiscal year 2011 LAND grants comes from the $1.7 billion Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Gov. Patrick in August 2008.

“The LAND Program is an extraordinary grant program that allows communities to acquire land for conservation and recreation,” said Sen. Stephen M. Brewer the outdoorsman’s best friend. “I applaud these communities and EOEEA for working together to preserve natural resources throughout the commonwealth for future generations.”

“Massachusetts continues to prioritize the preservation of our beautiful natural resources,” said Sen. Mark Montigny. “The LAND Program is unique collaboration between the state and municipality to acquire new lands, protecting species and encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors. This award builds on the momentum of the past four years and makes a promise to younger generations that we care and will invest in open space.”

One big land purchase is in Groton, where over 50 acres around Baddacook is now state property. This land is both dry and wetlands. Much of it is along the shore and abuts the pumping station at the end of the pond.

The area abuts several other parcels purchased or acquired over the years to help protect this magnificent area and body of water which is stocked with trout and salmon. The $238,000 was well spent on this land that holds a variety of wildlife such as turkey, deer, fox, weasel, porcupine, salamanders and many types of song birds. In other words, something for everyone.

Through this land grant and donation, this beautiful area will be preserved and enjoyed by residents and those that visit the historic sites nearby. This is a wonderful example of a collaboration between a public agency and a generous private partner that benefits everyone.

The Massachusetts shotgun deer hunting season will open after Thanksgiving. It always opens on a Monday and, like every year, it’s bucks only unless you have a permit for an anterless deer.

Devens will be open for opening day only and, according to Tom Poole, just 40 hunters will be allowed in.

Bill Biswanger