Agreement Would Preserve 145 Acres in Pepperell, MA

Pepperell, Massachusetts, 9/18/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, and Pepperell town officials announced today that TPL has reached an agreement to purchase 145 acres of land on River Road from the Keyes Realty Trust. The agreement gives TPL until December 1, 2007 to raise the $499,000 purchase price from a variety of sources in order to permanently conserve the land. TPL is working with the Town and the Nashoba Conservation Trust to raise the purchase price. If successful, the Town of Pepperell will hold a conservation restriction on this important landscape and it will never be developed.

The 145-acre Keyes property is located on River Road and Canal Street on the southern entrance to the town center. The land is a mix of open and wooded land that includes a significant agricultural landscape along River Road. Under the agreement, farming can continue on the property.

The land is 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. If conserved, the Keyes property will create a nearly 250-acre block of contiguous open space. Following closely on the heels of the successful Surrenden Farm project in Groton that protected nearly a mile or river frontage, the Keyes property also continues the larger effort to protect land in the Nashua River Greenway – a multiyear cross jurisdictional effort to protect this regional resource.

Darrell Gilmore, Chair of the Board of Selectman, said, “We are excited to have this great opportunity to add to our open space inventory. We are very thankful for TPL’s assistance in this project.”

Chris LaPointe, Project Manager for TPL, said, “The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have reached agreement with the Keyes family to create an opportunity for conservation. This agreement is significant because we have the opportunity to protect nearly the entire property. We understand how important agriculture is in this part of town, and creating the opportunity for continued agricultural use is a major component of this project. The Keyes family has a history of land conservation and public-mindedness – we are pleased to have struck a deal which honors that tradition.”

Potential funding sources for the $499,000 purchase price for the property are local funds and a state Self Help Grant. Town officials are working with project supporters to develop a strong funding plan to bring to Town Meeting this fall. With the help of TPL, Pepperell applied for a Self Help Grant through the Division of Conservation Services. Grant awards are likely to be made this fall before Town Meeting.

Robert Elliott, Chair of the Pepperell Conservation Commission said, “The Conservation Commission is very pleased with the cooperative effort to pursue the preservation of this parcel. The Keyes property lies on a critical entrance corridor to town and compliments years of work in the Nashua River Greenway. The town as a whole, present and future generations alike, will truly benefit from this joint effort.”

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. The Keyes Conservation Project represents another opportunity to combine forces for conservation.

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 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. For more information, visit