Kennelly Farm Protection Celebrated (MA)

BILLERICA, Massachusetts, 10/14/03: U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA) joined local officials, representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Trust for Public Land today to celebrate the permanent protection of the 58-acre Kennelly property, located off Treble Cove Road in Billerica. The event was held on the property, which was permanently protected as wildlife habitat last summer when it was acquired as part of Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

“I am so proud to be able to celebrate the preservation of Kennelly Farm,” Rep. Meehan said. “This project has been incredibly important to me because this land is so crucial to the Great Meadows refuge. Kennelly Farm is one of the last surviving grassland meadows in a traditionally agricultural area that is facing encroaching development; the farm will add much-needed high-quality grassland habitat to Great Meadows, and provide nesting grounds for numerous migrant bird species. President Roosevelt’s vision for a healthy planet is really coming true here in the 5th District,” he said.

The Kennelly property has long been identified as a top conservation priority for both the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex and the Town of Billerica. The Trust for Public Land has been working with the Town and the Service for more than 3 years to ensure that the land was conserved permanently.

“The Service’s ongoing partnership with The Trust for Public Land has proven successful once again,” said Elizabeth A. Herland, Project Leader for the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “This land will be permanently protected due to the support we received from Senators Kennedy and Kerry and Representative Meehan, and Charlie Kennelly’s conservation vision. The increased habitat diversity on the Concord Division of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge will benefit both wildlife and people for years to come.”

“With this project, we have not only expanded the boundaries of Great Meadows, we have also acquired a prime parcel of open space for our residents and visitors to enjoy. On behalf of the Town of Billerica, I would like to thank the Congressional delegation for their support, and the Trust for Public Land for their partnership in protecting the Kennelly property. Thanks should also go to Charlie Kennelly, as this project would not have been possible without his desire to pursue a conservation outcome for his land, and without his patience throughout the process,” said James F. O’Donnell, Jr., chair of the Billerica Board of Selectmen.

“As development pressure grows in eastern Massachusetts, it threatens to permanently change the region’s scenic character and irreversibly degrade wildlife habitat and recreation areas,” said Craig MacDonnell, State Director of the Trust for Public Land. “We are grateful for the leadership of the Congressional delegation and the partnership of the Service, the Town of Billerica, and Charlie Kennelly, which resulted in the permanent protection of this valuable land. We would also like to thank the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs for their strong support of this important project.”

Thanks to the efforts of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, Congress allocated $2.6 million in funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the project. With this funding, the Service acquired 52 acres as an addition to the 3,700-acre Concord Unit of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The remaining 6 acres were retained by the landowner, Charlie Kennelly, but are now protected from development by an Agricultural Preservation Restriction held by the Town of Billerica.

The Kennelly property includes a number of meadows, which provide essential breeding habitat for several declining species of migratory birds, including the bobolink and meadowlark. Protection of the parcel also helps to safeguard water quality of the Concord River, Billerica’s sole source of drinking water, and enhances the educational opportunities available to Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge’s many visitors. The Refuge’s headquarters are located in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and can be reached at (978) 443-4661.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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.

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