$1M Open Space Campaign in Grafton, MA

GRAFTON, Massachusetts, 10/14/03: The Grafton Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land are launching the Campaign for a Green Grafton, a fundraising drive to raise $1 million by the end of the year for the permanent protection of 260 acres of undeveloped open space in town. Thanks to strong support from area residents, $300,000 in gifts and pledges has already been raised towards the million-dollar goal.

The campaign will raise funds to cover the purchase of 60 acres on Potter Hill by the Grafton Land Trust and towards the purchase of the 200-acre Hassanamesitt Woods property on Keith Hill. Donations will also be used to create a modest endowment for the land’s long-term management and to cover associated project costs.

The Grafton Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land are also working to assemble funding from other sources to cover the remainder of Hassanamesitt Woods’ $2.1 million purchase price. At fall Town Meeting, which begins on October 20, residents will be asked to approve $500,000 from the Grafton Community Preservation Fund towards the Hassanamesitt Woods conservation effort. If the vote is successful and sufficient funding can be identified, the Town will take ownership of all or a portion of the property.

Richard Dion, president of the Grafton Land Trust, remarked, “We are pleased to have the opportunity to protect these two critical properties and appreciate the success that we have had to date with this ambitious campaign. The generous support of many individuals and families will be critical to our success in leaving a legacy in Grafton that will last for generations.”

The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization that provides real estate and technical assistance to land trusts, municipalities, and government agencies, has negotiated an agreement to purchase Hassanamesitt Woods and is partnering with the Grafton Land Trust inthe fundraising campaign. “By negotiating an agreement to purchase the Hassanamesitt Woods property, the Trust for Public Land hopes to provide an opportunity for Grafton residents to come together and protect this outstanding natural resource permanently,” explained Carol Hall, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “Preserving Hassanamesitt Woods and Potter Hill will protect two large swaths of unbroken conservation land while also protecting a window into Grafton’s past.”

For more information, or to make a donation to the campaign, please contact Joe Tancrell at (508) 839-6454 or send a donation to the Trust for Public Land, 33 Union Street, 4th floor, Boston, MA 02108.

The largely wooded 200-acre Hassanamesitt Woods property, which lies on the south side of Keith Hill between Old Upton Road and Salisbury Street, is located within the boundaries of Hassanamesitt, a 17th century praying town founded for members of the Nipmuck tribe who embraced the Christian religion. If protected, the site would provide an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the events and people that shaped the early history of Grafton. Protecting this site will form a roughly 450-acre corridor of open space for wildlife and recreational use, and offer the opportunity to link the property’s existing trails with trails on adjacent open space.

Located at the end of Potter Hill Road, the Potter Hill land is a 60-acre wooded property that lies adjacent to the state-owned 155-acre Martha Deering Wildlife Reserve and 60 acres of conservation land owned by the Town of Millbury. As a result, its permanent protection will create a 275-acre contiguous natural area. The Potter Hill parcel is a conservation priority because of its extraordinary views, wildlife habitat, and key location in a network of nearly 10 miles of interconnected trails.

The Grafton Land Trust’s mission is to save significant areas of open space, including agricultural land, forests, and watershed areas through various methods of creative land acquisition; open and maintain our properties for public recreation including hiking, cross country skiing, canoeing, and other outdoor activities; advise property owners and town boards on ways to reserve and protect land; and educate the public on conservation, ecology, forestry practices, and wildlife preservation so that we all may continue to enjoy our natural heritage. For more information, please contact us at (508) 839-7402 or visit www.graftonland.org.

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 1.6 million acres of land in 45 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.