Land Near Worcester’s Pine Hill Reservoir Protected (MA)

Worcester, Massachusetts, 7/23/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, and Worcester City officials announced today that the City has acquired a Watershed Preservation Restriction over 100 acres of land located on Maple Avenue and Emerald Road in Rutland, Massachusetts. TPL worked with Commissioner Robert Moylan of the Department of Public Works and Parks (DPW&P) to bring the acquisition before the Worcester City Council. Funding for the purchase of the restriction came from a $500,000 State Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant that was matched by the City of Worcester.

The 100 acres owned by Edward and Barbara Hayes are located northwest of the Pine Hill Reservoir. The land is predominantly forested and includes more than a mile and a half of brook frontage. The land had been a major unprotected property just a stone’s throw from the reservoir, an essential component of Worcester’s drinking water supply. Pine Hill Reservoir stores 40% of Worcester’s public water supply.

Chris LaPointe, the project manager for TPL, said, “We’re pleased to have completed the protection of this vital area in Rutland – outside Worcester’s boundaries, yet so essential to the water supply for the City. We commend the Worcester DPW&P and the City Council for their remarkable foresight in taking the steps today – before it’s too late – to safeguard their water supply.”

Philip Guerin, Director of Environmental Systems for Worcester DPW&P, said, “Despite the increasing burden placed on the City to meet ever more stringent and costly requirements for our water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, we remain committed to the protection of our water supply system. This acquisition also illustrates the great things that can happen when local government, state government and non-government organizations work as full partners, including sharing in the costs of a beneficial project. It’s an approach that we wish others at the state and federal level would embrace.”

The Hayes’s have been sound stewards of their property for more that thirty years. Under the terms of the Watershed Preservation Restriction, they will continue to own the land, but it will forever be protected against development. Since 1860, the City of Worcester has protected more than 6,000 acres of critical watershed land and has maintained a high level of water quality in its reservoirs.

In recent years, The Trust for Public Land has partnered with the City of Worcester to protect four watershed protection priorities. Since 2005, TPL and the City have worked together to protect the 209-acre Muschopauge Brook property in Holden and Rutland, and the 75-acre Tatnuck Brook and 75-acre Scott Brook properties in Holden.

Currently, Worcester’s watershed protection efforts include land acquisition, public access restrictions, extensive water quality monitoring, security patrols, review of development plans, and mapping of resources and potential threats, and the City presently owns about 25% of the watershed area.

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. In its first project with the Worcester Department of Public Works, TPL led the successful efforts to acquire a Watershed Preservation Restriction over 75 acres in the Tatnuck Brook Watershed. An additional 209 acres were acquired and protected in 2005 along the Muschopauge Brook. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped to protect 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.