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Friday, June 10, 2022

Baker-Polito Administration Awards Over $2.7 Million for Land and Drinking Water Supply Protection Projects

 Baker-Polito Administration Awards Over $2.7 Million for Land and Drinking Water Supply Protection Projects

 BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $2,765,295 in grant funding through the Drinking Water Supply Protection, Landscape Partnership, and Conservation Partnership Grant Programs.  These three grant programs, administered through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), will help five municipalities protect land for drinking water supply purposes, seven non-profit land trusts conserve land for open space and outdoor recreation, and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council in partnership with the Departments of Conservation and Recreation and Fish and Game complete the Mt. Hunger Conservation Project.

 “Investing in these important projects will make our communities more resilient to climate change, protect critical drinking water supplies, and ensure communities benefit from access to open space,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our Administration is proud to assist communities and land trusts in acquiring land that will provide residents with clean drinking water, as well as beautiful places to recreate with friends and family.”

 “Increasing access to open space natural resources throughout the Commonwealth has grown in importance since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These grant programs play an important role in ensuring that Massachusetts families have access to clean drinking water, as well as invaluable recreational opportunities where they can spend time together outdoors safely.”

 Through the Conservation Partnership Grant Program, $489,825 was awarded to seven Massachusetts non-profit organizations. The funding will be used to help land trusts protect land for future generations for conservation and outdoor recreation purposes. Additionally, $1,025,470 was awarded to five Massachusetts municipalities through the Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant Program. Since 2004, the program has been funding municipal and public water systems and fire districts’ acquisition of land in fee or a conservation restriction for drinking water supply protection.  Finally, $1,250,000 was awarded to the Mt. Hunger Conservation Project to protect 836 acres in Monterey and Tyringham. This joint effort involving the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Department of Fish and Game will expand public access for passive recreation including hunting and add to a connected conservation corridor of over 14,000 acres, achieving a key strategy to build climate resilience.

 Recognizing the importance of these types of investment, the Baker-Polito Administration has proposed in its Forward Bill that federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding be utilized to augment capital funds. Proposed spending currently before the legislature specifically related to the grants announced today includes $232 million for park and trail assets, $64 million for clean water projects, and $4 million for open space acquisition.

 “Land conservation and protection measures provide the Commonwealth with many benefits, such as safeguarding critical drinking water supplies, providing access to the natural world, increasing resiliency to climate change, and ensuring important habitat is protected.” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to partner with municipalities, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders to protect these lands, which will positively impact the public for generations to come.”

 Conservation Partnership Grant Program awardees are:

· Buzzards Bay Coalition - Headwaters Bog Conservation Project: $85,000to protect ecological and water resources, enable natural wetland habitat restoration, provide public access for outdoor passive recreation, enlarge a block of contiguous protected open space, and protect scenic view access.

· Dennis Conservation Land Trust - White Cedar Conservation Project: $51,325 to conserve upland pitch pine-oak forest with BioMap2 Critical Natural Landscape.  The purchase will protect the habitat of deer, rabbits, coyotes, fishers, turkeys, raptors, and songbirds.

· East Quabbin Land Trust - Finn Woodland Acquisition: $13,500 to protect a part of the Dougal Range, identified as an Important Bird Area by Mass Audubon.

· Essex County Greenbelt Association - Tompson Street Church Lot: $85,000 to purchase a substantial addition to the 320-acre Tompson Street Reservation and protect several existing trailheads and part of the larger trail network.

· Harwich Conservation Trust - Robbins Pond Preservation Project: $85,000 to protect the watershed recharge area for Robbins Pond and the Herring River and important wildlife habitat for threatened species.

· Mattapoisett Land Trust - Alves Riverfront Conservation Project: $85,000 to protect 4.3 acres with 800 feet of riverfront along the tidal portion of the Mattapoisett River.

· Wellfleet Conservation Trust - High Toss Conservation Project: $85,000 for protection of estimated and priority habitats of rare species, critical natural landscape, and shorebird and migratory bird habitat.           

 Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant Program awardees are:

· Town of Yarmouth – Higgins Crowell Road Project: $300,000 to purchase ten parcels for a total of 9.66 acres adjacent to a 107-acre parcel owned by the town for well and drinking water supply protection.

· Fitchburg Division of Water Supply – Kerlinger Conservation Restriction Project: $140,370 grant award to preserve a 49.43-acre parcel that will extend protection for Fitchburg’s watershed lands and will serve to extend established recreational trails on adjacent land.

· Fall River Department of Community Utilities – Copicut Reservoir Watershed Protection Project: $121,750 grant award to acquire 16 acres of woodland to provide an additional buffer to the Copicut Reservoir.

· Southampton Water Commission – Pomeroy Meadow Protection Project: $213,350 grant award to preserve 76 acres of forested land to protect the town’s critical drinking water source. This project will also serve as a catalyst for preserving adjacent land.

· City of Haverhill – Meserve Woods Conservation Restriction Project: $250,000 grant award to preserve 54 acres of critical watershed land near Crystal Lake Reservoir, Haverhill’s primary drinking water system.

 The Landscape Partnership Grant Program Awardee is:

· Berkshire Natural Resources Council in partnership with the Departments of Conservation and Recreation and Fish and Game: $1,250,000 to conserve 836 acres in Monterey and Tyringham thus preserving the opportunity for continued forest management, expanding public access for passive recreation, and building climate resilience by adding to a connected conservation corridor of over 14,000 acres.

 “Drinking water and preserved open spaces are essential elements to our quality of life in Massachusetts, yet we cannot take them for granted. Careful planning and strategic investment are critical to both, and through these grants, the Baker-Polito Administration is proving once again its commitment to our environment,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “Congratulations and thank you to Essex County Greenbelt and the other recipients for their leadership in providing the kind of stewardship these resources need and deserve.”

 “The grant awarded to Berkshire Natural Resources Council will have both an immediate and long-term impact on our beautiful natural assets here in the Berkshires,” said Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox). “I’m grateful to Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito for making this investment to keep our open spaces accessible for anyone who wishes to enjoy them, putting measures in place for resiliency, and continuing to protect and preserve our environmental resources.”

 “It is critical that we protect this beautiful land and water source for the present and future residents of Haverhill,” said Representative Andy X. Vargas (D-Haverhill). “In partnership with our colleagues in the legislature and the Administration, I’m grateful that this funding has been authorized and approved for our community. This would not have been possible without the diligent work of Greenbelt, the Haverhill Water and Conservation Departments, Mayor Fiorentini and the very generous donation of land from the Meserve family.”

 “Our Commonwealth continues to lead on initiatives to preserve our drinking water supply – from action on combined sewer overflows to PFAS to watershed protection,” said Representative Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen). “Water quality is a major priority in the Merrimack Valley, and this grant for the City of Haverhill will go a long way toward protecting our natural resources and our drinking water.”

 “Protecting land and drinking water supply is of critical importance to the health of the environment and our residents. Congratulations to the City of Haverhill for securing $250,000 for the Meserve Woods Conservation Restriction project, a key step in protecting water resources for the City,” said Representative Christina Minicucci (D-North Andover). “I am thankful for the partnership of EEA and the Baker-Polito Administration in acknowledging the importance of protecting our natural resource areas and in providing this grant funding for the preservation of these areas.”

For more information regarding the Conservation Partnership Grant Program, Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant Program, and the Landscape Partnership Grant Program, please visit the program’s webpages

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