140 Acres of Farmland and Forest Protected in Pepperell (MA)

Pepperell, Massachusetts, 1/25/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, and Pepperell town officials announced today that the 140-acre Keyes Conservation Project has been successfully concluded. Town Meeting voters approved funding for the project in October, and the sale of the property to the Nashoba Conservation Trust and the town has been finalized.

The Town of Pepperell now holds a conservation restriction (CR) over 100 acres of the former Keyes property on River Road and Canal Street, and owns 40 acres of land on Elm Street, adjacent to the Town Forest. The Nashoba Conservation Trust is the new owner of the 100 acres covered by the town’s CR.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Self Help Program announced in November that nearly $320,000 had been awarded as a reimbursement to the Town for their investment in this land. Pepperell’s net investment in the land was slightly less than $180,000. TPL negotiated the purchase of the property.

The former Keyes property is located on River Road and Canal Street at the southern entrance to the town center. It is a mix of open and wooded land that includes a significant agricultural landscape along River Road. Under the terms of the conservation restriction, agriculture is an allowable use of the property. Existing trails will be open for hikers and equestrians, subject to a management plan to be prepared by the town and the Nashoba Conservation Trust.

The town identified the land as a key parcel for conservation because it is adjacent to the 90-acre Pepperell Town Forest, provides a spectacular scenic approach to the town center from the south, and provides much-needed agricultural land to the community.

Pepperell Town Manager Bob Hanson said, “This project is another milestone in our efforts to preserve what is special about Pepperell. The Town is pleased that the trails on this property will remain open to the public. We extend our thanks to TPL, the Nashoba Conservation Trust, the state’s self-help program, and the Keyes Family.”

In 2005, the Town of Pepperell, the Nashoba Conservation Trust, and TPL worked cooperatively to protect the 265-acre Pepperell Springs property along Gulf Brook.

Chris LaPointe, Project Manager for TPL, noted the valued partnership with the town and Nashoba Conservation Trust that has led to successful conservation. He said, “TPL is happy to have been involved in another successful partnership in Pepperell. Working together, we have helped the Town retain its significant rural agricultural character and have done so at modest cost to the Town.”

He continued, “We encourage townspeople to use their new conservation land for passive recreation or to simply enjoy the view as they drive by on River Road. We thank the Keyes family for their willingness to work with us towards this conservation outcome. This is a fitting tribute to their family’s stewardship and love of the land.”

In its 2007 Annual Report, the Pepperell Conservation Commission, chaired by Robert Elliott, noted, “George and Lucy Keyes were long-time contributors to conservation and land protection in Pepperell through their work with the Commission, non-profit organizations, and their personal donations. The Commission thanks the Keyes family for their sensitive and generous continuation of George and Lucy Keyes’ legacy.”

Gerry Coffey, President of the Nashoba Conservation Trust, said, “NCT is excited to be able to protect this important parcel of land. This project adds to the extensive Keyes conservation legacy. We thank the Keyes family and TPL for their important role in this project.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas. Last year, TPL led the successful efforts to conserve the 330-acre, $19 million Surrenden Farm conservation project in Groton and in 2005, worked to complete the 265-acre, $3.2 million Pepperell Springs conservation project in Pepperell. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped to protect more than 2.3 million acres nationwide, including nearly 12,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.