Agreement Reached on Pepperell Springs Land (MA)

Pepperell, Massachusetts, 5/13/04: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, with the strong support of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation and the Town of Pepperell, announced today that it has reached an agreement to purchase the 265-acre Pepperell Springs property on Chestnut Street in Pepperell from the current owner, D.S. Waters, Inc, of Atlanta, GA.

The property has been a longtime focus for conservation by the Nashoba Conservation Trust (NCT), the Town of Pepperell, and the Nashua River Watershed Association. Under the terms of the agreement announced today, TPL has until November 1, 2004, to purchase the property for $3.2 million. If sufficient funds can be raised, TPL plans to transfer ownership of the property to the Town, with the state holding a permanent conservation agreement over the land that will prevent future development.

“We are grateful to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, the Pepperell Springs Preservation Coalition, the Town of Pepperell, and all of our partners for helping to bring this together,” said Badge Blackett, Senior Project Manager for the Trust for Public Land. “Although we still have lots of work to do to permanently protect the site, we are pleased to be moving forward today by reaching agreement with D.S. Waters to acquire the property.”

In 2003, under the leadership of U.S. Representative John Olver, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, Congress appropriated $1.4 million in federal funds through the USDA Forest Legacy Program for the acquisition of Pepperell Springs. Over the coming months, TPL and the Pepperell Springs Coalition will be working together to raise the remaining $1.8 million needed for the project through town appropriations, private contributions and public grants.

“This property is one of the highest quality river habitats in the watershed. This agreement is extremely good news for an area that has been threatened by development,” Rep. Olver said. “Protecting the integrity of Pepperell Springs 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.”

“This agreement is truly a milestone, and a testament to the hard work and good faith efforts of so many,” Senator Kennedy said. “I am glad we’ve been able to help, because the Pepperell Springs property represents a unique opportunity to preserve such an important habitat for the benefit of generations to come.”

“Protecting Pepperell Springs means protecting our drinking water, protecting wildlife, and protecting a beautiful place for future generations to enjoy,” said Senator Kerry. “I am very pleased that we are on the right path to maintaining Pepperell Springs, for the people of Pepperell and all of Massachusetts.”

TPL is partnering with the Nashoba Conservation Trust, the Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA, which serves as an educator, advocate, and steward for the 31 watershed communities in north central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire), the Nissitissit River Land Trust (NRLT), the Town of Pepperell, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), collectively referred to as the Pepperell Springs Preservation Coalition. This coalition was formed in December 2001 when local citizens decided to conserve this important property.

“This agreement represents an unrivaled opportunity for residents of Pepperell and Massachusetts to preserve a beautiful wilderness landscape,” said Barbara Ganem, one of the founding members of the Pepperell Springs Preservation Coalition. “Future generations will be very grateful to the community of people who come together to make the preservation of Gulf Brook Ravine and Pepperell Springs a reality.”

Pepperell Springs is one of the largest remaining unprotected forested tracts in the Nissitissit watershed. The tract is connected to a 3,000-acre forested corridor that includes the Gulf Brook Conservation Area to the north and the conservation land that surrounds a majority of Heald Pond to the south. Protection of this land will provide a significant contribution to preserving the wildlife corridor along the ravine and Gulf Brook as well as providing recreational opportunities for the public.

Robert Hanson, Pepperell Town Administrator, said, “This property has long been one of the Town’s highest protection priorities because of its outstanding water resources, wildlife habitat, and recreational potential. This agreement is the result of action by many individuals and groups within Pepperell. They have seen this opportunity of historic proportions and have worked together to achieve that desired goal. While significant work remains before this property is permanently protected, the agreement to purchase this land is a tremendous achievement, and I applaud the efforts of all who have been involved.”

The property is bisected by Gulf Brook, a tributary of the Nissitissit River, with both the Brook and the River being designated as Outstanding Resource Waters by the Commonwealth and protected by The Squannacook/Nissitissit Rivers Sanctuary Act.

The land falls within the watersheds of both the Nashua River and Nissitissit River. The tract is one of the highest quality river habitats in the Nashua River watershed, which encompasses 538 miles and 31 communities in north central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire and provides drinking water for more than one million people. The spring was first commercially developed as the Pepperell Spring Water Company in 1893. At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904, the company won the silver medal for best tasting mineral water, which was bottled from the spring on the property.

The Nashoba Conservation Trust, Inc. (NCT) is a non-profit land trust based in Pepperell, Massachusetts. NCT works with local schools, landowners, and other organizations to protect open space and promote land conservation. Since 1969, NCT has been active in the protection and promotion of land conservation by purchasing and receiving donations of land and easements totaling almost 400 acres, and promoting land conservation by working with the community and local schools. For more information, visit Contributions to the Pepperell Springs Campaign are tax-deductible and can be sent to the Nashoba Conservation Trust, PO Box 188 Pepperell, MA 01463. For more information, contact Paula Terrasi at (978) 433-6068.

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