Hunsley Hills Property Protected (MA)

Rowley, MA, 1/26/2001: Today, the Town of Rowley and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced the protection of the 104-acre Hunsley Hills property as permanent open space. Last May, Rowley residents voted to purchase Hunsley Hills for $1.25 million, and to offset this purchase, the town received grants of $250,000 from the state and $5,000 from the Fields Pond Foundation. To stave off the possibility of development, TPL negotiated an agreement to purchase the property last April and held it off the market until residents could vote to purchase the land and the town could issue the necessary bonds. As a result, the town was able to purchase Hunsley Hills earlier this week.

“This acquisition marks a critical step forward for Rowley in the effort to protect its drinking water supply,” explained Nellie Aikenhead, TPL project manager. “The conservation of Hunsley Hills would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the Rowley Open Space Committee and the support of State Representative Harriett Stanley and Senator Bruce Tarr, who helped secure the state Self-Help grant, and the Fields Pond Foundation. In addition, local officials, town residents, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, and the Essex County Greenbelt Association worked tirelessly with TPL for the protection of the property.”

Sue Moses of the Rowley Open Space Committee commented, “We are thrilled that Rowley now has ownership of Hunsley Hills. The protection of the property is critical to the town’s water supply. We are thankful to the Trust for Public Land, the Fields Pond Foundation, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, and the Essex County Greenbelt Association for the different roles they played in making this conservation project possible.”

“Rowley is a proactive community in its approach to open space, and Hunsley Hills is an important acquisition for the town. Yet it’s important that the community receive assistance to meet its goals, and this Self-Help grant is well deserved,” remarked State Senator Bruce E. Tarr. “The town, the Trust for Public Land, and the Commonwealth have accomplished together what would have been difficult for any of them to do alone.

“State Representative Harriett L. Stanley noted, “This Self-Help grant certainly lives up to its name. The residents of Rowley, the Trust for Public Land, and the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs all played a critical role in the protection of this important piece of Rowley.”

“I was happy to see that people were as interested in the conservation of Hunsley Hills as I was,” remarked former landowner George Harris. “It is a great asset to the town, and I hope it will bring pleasure to the people.”

Hunsley Hills drains directly into the aquifer recharge area for one of two public wells that serve more than 90 percent of Rowley residents. It also drains through tributaries to the Parker River and the Parker River/Essex Bay Area of Critical Environmental Concern. Whereas development of Hunsley Hills would have threatened drinking water quality, the property’s permanent protection will help safeguard Rowley’s drinking water and the Parker River by limiting runoff of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals.

The conservation of Hunsley Hills creates a contiguous corridor of open space covering more than 450 acres, providing habitat for wildlife as well as opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, bird watching, and other types of low-impact recreation. Hunsley Hills is one of five hilltops that have long defined the Rowley landscape. The highest of these, Prospect Hill, was protected by TPL and the Department of Environmental Management in 1995.

The Trust for Public Land was founded in 1972 to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since then, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide, including nearly 4,000 acres in Massachusetts. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, visit