Pepperell Springs Conservation Effort Complete (MA)

June 1, 2005
Press release

PEPPERELL, MA, 5/31/05: U.S. Congressman John Olver, U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth, and Massachusetts Environmental Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder today joined the Trust for Public Land (TPL), area residents, local officials and nonprofit organizations in celebrating the permanent protection of the 265-acre Pepperell Springs (Belmont Springs) property in Pepperell, Massachusetts. The Town acquired the land from TPL on Friday, May 27 and will be the permanent owner.

A coalition of organizations including TPL, the Nashoba Conservation Trust, the Nashua River Watershed Association, and the Nissitissit River Land Trust, along with the Town of Pepperell, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the U.S. Forest Service, and countless individuals has been working for more than 3 years to acquire and protect this land.

The Pepperell Springs project was the state's top priority for USDA Forest Legacy Program funding in 2004, and received a grant of $1.383 million to help the Town acquire the land. Key to the grant was the leadership of U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and U.S. Congressman John Olver, who secured Congressional approval for the award. Pepperell Springs is considered a significant forested tract for its watershed, wildlife habitat, recreational, and cultural values.

"This protection is a welcome victory for conservation and a special tribute to the skilled work and impressive leadership of the many persons who care so much about this unique property in Pepperell," Senator Kennedy said. "It means that this magnificent part of our heritage will be carefully preserved for the continuing benefit of future generations."

"Protecting Pepperell Springs means protecting our drinking water, protecting wildlife and protecting a beautiful piece of our history for future generations to enjoy," said Senator Kerry. "After a long fight by a lot of people, the protection of Pepperell Springs is now a reality, for the people of Pepperell and all of Massachusetts."

"This property is one of the highest quality river habitats in the watershed and its protection is extremely good news for an area that has been threatened by development," Rep. John Olver said. "Protecting the integrity of this area will not only safeguard the drinking water supply for area residents but will benefit the numerous species of plants and animals that live here, maintaining the scenic beauty for generations to come."

The Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Dale Bosworth, traveled from Washington, D.C. to attend the celebration. Bosworth commented: "Places like Pepperell Springs provide a whole range of goods and services that future generations will need. People come to places like this to enjoy quiet beauty, clean air and water, unbroken forests, and for the opportunity to see bobcats, to hear rare migratory songbirds, or maybe to catch a native brook trout. I am deeply grateful to all of our partners for seeing this project through."

In addition to the federal funding, the Town of Pepperell provided $1.5 million for the purchase, an appropriation unanimously approved at Town Meeting in September 2004. $500,000 of that sum will be reimbursed through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Self Help Grant Program. The remaining $317,000 was raised from individuals and foundations.

Massachusetts Environmental Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder said, "The Pepperell Springs property is home to important wildlife habitat and key water supplies and it provides numerous recreation opportunities. The protection of this space is made possible by a group of partners who care deeply about this land's environmental significance and it represents smart growth that respects the proper balance between conservation and sound development. We are proud to be a part of such a great partnership."

As a key linkage in a 3,000-acre protected corridor that has been the focus of regional conservation efforts for many years, the Pepperell Springs property was Pepperell's highest protection priority. The property had been under threat of being developed with as many as 60 residential homes.

Pepperell Town Manager Bob Hanson said, "Today is the culmination of a vast amount of work by people at all levels of federal and state government, as well as the entire spectrum of town officials and citizens. A lot of hard work by good people has produced a result which will be a monument to the clear thinking and concern for posterity in the town of Pepperell. Many thanks to the Trust for Public Land for being instrumental in helping the town achieve this result."

"To be part of the effort to preserve the unique and beautiful 265-acre Pepperell Springs property has been a truly rewarding experience," said Paula Terrasi, Vice President of the Nashoba Conservation Trust. "We are proud of this accomplishment but could not have done it without all of the organizations within the coalition and the support from federal, state, regional, and local sources. Our efforts will protect this pristine forested area and allow all who visit to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of this wonderful place forever."

All 265 acres of the property are now owned by the Town of Pepperell. 255 of these acres are subject to a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game-held Conservation Restriction which prevents future development and ensures public access. The remaining 10 acres include an existing water bottling plant, which will be used by the Town of Pepperell for municipal purposes, subject to a Conservation Restriction held by the Nashoba Conservation Trust.

Whitney Hatch, Regional Director for TPL, said, "Pepperell Springs has been one of our signature projects in the past year, measured against all our work in New England and even nationally. It's been rewarding not only because of the magnificent resources this land has to offer, but because of the tremendous outpouring of support from the Town and all our local partners. We thank the federal delegation, the Commonwealth, and all those generous individuals who worked with us to make this day possible."

The Forest Legacy Program (FLP), authorized by Congress in 1990 to keep intact natural and recreational resources of the nation's dwindling forests, provides federal money to states to protect threatened working forests and woodlands either through public purchase or conservation easements. As the first state to complete its Assessment of Need for enrollment in the FLP in 1993, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an impressive record of success with the program, having completed twelve land protection projects totaling 2,500 acres. With its long history of dedicating funds to open space protection, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has used Forest Legacy funding to leverage state, local and private funding to preserve threatened scenic landscapes, working forests, outdoor recreation opportunities and critical drinking water supplies.

The protection of Pepperell Springs is also significant to preserving the wildlife corridor for animals that follow the gorge and brook. This area supports one of the best native trout streams in Massachusetts. The Gulf Brook ravine, which bisects the Pepperell Springs property, supports diverse wildlife, and its ledges are preferred habitat for bobcat. Birds such as the Northern Saw-whet Owl, Blackburnian Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker also nest in this area.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.9 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 10,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, please contact TPL's Boston office at (617) 367-6200 or visit www.tpl.org/massachusetts.