42 Acres on Cape Cod to be Protected (MA)

HARWICH, Massachusetts, 6/10/03: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, announced today that it has reached an agreement to purchase the 42-acre Monomoy River property on Bay Road in East Harwich from the current owner, the Shea Family Realty Trust. The land is a high protection priority because it lies along a half-mile of the Monomoy River, which flows into Pleasant Bay. As a result, its conservation will be an important step forward in the ongoing effort to protect Pleasant Bay’s water quality.

The property has been a longtime focus of the Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT) and the Town of Harwich Real Estate and Open Space Committee, and nearly two years ago they asked TPL to assist them in negotiating the purchase. Under the terms of the agreement announced today, TPL has until November 30, 2003, to purchase the property for $5.875 million. If sufficient funds can be raised, TPL plans to transfer ownership of the property to the Town with a permanent conservation restriction over the land to HCT.

“We are delighted to announce our agreement to purchase the Monomoy River property, and applaud the Shea family for choosing a conservation sale. There is now a window of opportunity to pull together the funds needed to protect this outstanding property permanently,” said Nellie Aikenhead, project manager for TPL.

“The protection of our drinking water, lakes, ponds, and estuaries is a top goal of the Harwich Conservation Trust, and protecting the Monomoy River land is a critical part of reaching that goal. To make this project a success, we will be reaching out to people throughout the region who care about the future of Pleasant Bay and asking them to make a gift for this remarkable property,” said Robert Smith, president of HCT.

In May 2001, Harwich Town Meeting authorized $3.5 million in Land Bank funds for the acquisition of the Monomoy River land. Since that time, HCT has raised $700,000 in private contributions. Over the coming months, TPL and HCT will be working together to raise the remaining $1.675 million needed for the project through private contributions and public grants. With assistance from the Massachusetts congressional delegation, project supporters are seeking federal funding from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

“I’m pleased that yet another step has been taken toward maintaining this land as an open space for families to enjoy for generations to come,” said U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D- MA). “I applaud the Trust for Public Land, Harwich Conservation Trust, and the Town of Harwich for their efforts to ensure this beautiful, environmentally important space is preserved for the future.”

“Today’s agreement is a significant step towards the permanent conservation of this property, and I commend the landowners, the Town of Harwich and both nonprofit partners for making such progress,” said U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA). “I will continue to work in Washington for federal funding to support this community driven conservation effort.” “The Monomoy River is a hidden treasure and this effort to preserve it is a collaborative labor of love,” said.Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA).

“The Board of Selectmen is very excited that the acquisition of this property is moving forward,” said Donald Howell, chair of the Harwich Board of Selectmen. “Not only is the property beautiful, it is important to the Town of Harwich and the Cape at large. Any development of this property would have a profound negative effect on Pleasant Bay.”

Contributions to the Campaign to Save Monomoy River are tax-deductible and can be sent to the Harwich Conservation Trust, P.O. Box 205, Harwich Port, MA 02646. For more information, contact Isabel Smith at (508) 430-0517.

Pleasant Bay is Cape Cod’s largest estuary and a state-designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The Monomoy River land is the largest undeveloped unprotected shorefront parcel in the 21,300-acre Pleasant Bay Watershed. Providing scenic views from Route 28, the land is adjacent to 35 acres of town-owned conservation land and 30 acres of Water Department land that includes two active Harwich drinking water supply wells. The property provides habitat for abundant wildlife, including more than 55 species of birds, and has the potential for walking trails. Currently zoned for residential development, the land could accommodate a multi-lot subdivision if not conserved.

“The Monomoy River property is a true coastal gem. Preserving this land as open space will not only help the health of Monomoy River, but also Pleasant Bay. It’s easy to see why saving the land has real regional significance,” said Isabel Smith, chair of the Harwich Real Estate and Open Space Committee and board member of HCT.

The Campaign to Save Monomoy River has received support from a wide variety of regional and national organizations, including the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, Chatham Conservation Foundation, Orleans Conservation Trust, Brewster Conservation Trust, Friends of Pleasant Bay, Pleasant Bay Resource Management Alliance, and the Land Trust Alliance.

Founded in 1988, the Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT) is a private, nonprofit land conservation organization that protects woodland, wetland, and other natural areas throughout Harwich. The Campaign to Save Monomoy River is part of HCT’s broader plan to protect drinking water, ponds, and estuaries by preserving the undeveloped land around those water bodies. HCT has protected 263 acres in Harwich, to date. To learn more about HCT, please call (508) 430-0517 or visit www.HarwichConservationTrust.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

Note to editors: To have a digital photo or map emailed to you, contact Erin Rowland at the Trust for Public Land, (617) 367-6200 x321.