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Harvard land once eyed for utility corridor to be protected
Harvard land once eyed for utility corridor to be protected

After years of talks, National Grid in February sold nearly 200 acres of land once eyed for a transmission corridor to the Harvard Conservation Trust for preservation, a transfer that will protect 19 parcels of undeveloped and ecologically diverse land.

The utility company initially purchased the 199 acres in Harvard in the 1960s as it sought options for an electric transmission corridor across eight communities from Milford to Ayer.

The sale to the Harvard Conservation Trust, for $513,000, includes “land that has been untouched for generations and includes areas of rare native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities, and a rich diversity of ecosystems,” the utility said.

“This spectacular landscape includes a contiguous 100-acre pine and hardwood forest, geological features, stone cliffs and forested wetland areas. A portion of the corridor is designated as priority habitat by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program,” Mike Morton, president of the Harvard Conservation Trust, said. “The Trust appreciated the opportunity to work with National Grid to permanently protect this corridor. We are grateful to the National Grid personnel who shepherded this project internally.”

The parcels sold, which range from two acres to 52 acres apiece, abut a number of permanently protected conservation areas and the transfer will extend contiguous protected land areas for passive recreation and will allow the trust to connect its existing trail network to adjoining conservation lands.

Steve Woerner, National Grid US’s New England president, said the company was “grateful to be able to transfer this land to a group we know will take exceptional care of it.” The utility pledged in a “responsible business charter” to improve the environmental value of 10 percent of its land by 2030.

In October, National Grid conveyed more than 12 acres of vacant land in North Andover to the land conservation non-profit The Trustees of Reservations.