Dartmouth, MA – After more than six years of sustained effort by many Dartmouth residents and a recent federal grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Trustees of Reservations today announced the successful completion of their latest conservation project in Dartmouth, the permanent protection of 153 acres of farmland and critical migratory bird habitat on Dike Creek, a tributary of Apponagansett Bay. The property – known previously as the Gulf Meadows subdivision after having been approved as an 81-lot housing development in the 1980s – is now forever protected by a conservation restriction, which commits the property to farming use and permits only one residence to be built. In addition to the protections provided by the conservation restriction, 40 acres of the farm, composed of wetlands, salt marsh, and a portion of Dike Creek, were conveyed to the Dartmouth Conservation Commission.
“Some land conservation deals are worth waiting for and the Dike Creek property in Dartmouth is one of those projects,” said Andrew Kendall, President of The Trustees, a nonprofit conservation organization. “It certainly took longer than we expected, but ultimately it turned out to be one of the most important contributions we’ll ever make to the landscape and environment of Apponagansett Bay.”
The conservation project was first conceived by a group of Dartmouth residents, who were concerned with the potential environmental impacts posed by the 81-lot development plan. The subdivision was eventually approved and bulldozers subsequently cleared a portion of the land for the subdivision roads. Financing difficulties ensued, and the developer later sold the property rather than completing the development. In 2001, some of the same concerned citizens approached The Trustees of Reservations and the Coalition for Buzzards Bay for assistance with the project. The Trustees negotiated a purchase agreement with the landowner and together the two organizations mounted a fundraising campaign to protect the property.
“When The Coalition for Buzzards Bay first became involved with the Dike Creek property, the land was threatened with a major housing subdivision and the Bay was threatened by runoff pollution associated with that type of development so close to the creek’s wetlands,” said Mark Rasmussen, Executive Director of the Coalition. “Today, we are proud to have played a part in seeing that it remains as open space forever. The preservation of this land is one of the most important steps ever taken toward the long-term protection of water quality, shellfish and wildlife in Apponagansett Bay.”
Private gifts and a generous loan from the Architectural Heritage Foundation kept the project afloat for several years, while the partners worked to secure public funding to complete the transaction. That funding was awarded late in 2006, in the form of a $950,000 grant by the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Program. The NAWCA grant was one of several that have been awarded to a coalition of conservation groups in recent years in order to protect migratory waterfowl habitat near Buzzards Bay.
“Thanks to a group effort and funding support through the US Fish & Wildlife Service, what began as a great conservation idea has now become a tremendous conservation success,” added Anthony Cucchi, Trustees of Reservations Land Protection Specialist. “Local supporters have spent years trying to save the property and with the help of our community and federal partners, their persistence has finally paid off. Having learned from this experience, we hope to replicate this success story in other towns around the state before it?s too late.”About The Trustees of Reservations
Founded in 1891, The Trustees of Reservations is the nation’s oldest regional land trust and nonprofit conservation organization. Supported by more than 40,000 individual and family members, The Trustees protect Massachusetts' natural and historic resources for everyone to enjoy. From working farms to historic homesteads, barrier beaches to mountain vistas, The Trustees owns and manages nearly 25,000 acres on 96 reservations in 70 communities across Massachusetts – all open to the public. Trustees’ properties include four National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark, and seven properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Trustees holds perpetual conservation restrictions on nearly 16,000 acres?more than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts – permanently protecting scenic and natural areas from development. The Trustees has also assisted in the protection of nearly 16,000 additional acres.
The Trustees employs 150 full-time and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in many areas, including ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out how you can interview Trustees? experts on important topics and issues, volunteer, donate, become a member or learn more about our properties and programs for all ages, please call The Trustees of Reservations at 781.784.0567, visit our website at www.thetrustees.org
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