New Open Space for Boxford, MA

BOXFORD, Massachusetts, 12/3/02: The Town of Boxford announced today that it has acquired the 135-acre Sawyer/Richardson property off of Crooked Pond Road for permanent use as open space. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management also purchased a conservation restriction over the property, guaranteeing permanent conservation and public access for low-impact recreation. The Trust for Public Land, the Boxford Trails Association/Boxford Open Land Trust (BTA/BOLT), and the Essex County Greenbelt Association assisted with the acquisition.

“The residents of Boxford have gotten a great deal on 135 acres of open space – scenic views, opportunities for passive recreation, and protected wildlife habitat, all at no new cost to taxpayers,” said Bob Clewell, chair of the Boxford Board of Selectmen. “On behalf of the Town of Boxford, I would like to thank the Trust for Public Land, BTA/BOLT, the State of Massachusetts, and the hundreds of other volunteers who worked for the protection of this land. This project would not have been possible without the hard work of everyone involved.”

“Boxford State Forest is comprised of 1,000 acres of land,” said Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Commissioner Peter C. Webber. “This acquisition ensures the preservation of this large forest mosaic.”

“The Sawyer/Richardson property has been Boxford’s top preservation priority for years,” said BTA/BOLT president Judy Gore. “It has been a long and bumpy road – we never would have reached this point without the tremendous support of many, many individuals and organizations contributing time, money and expertise to make the permanent protection of this land a reality. Thank you to everyone involved.”

“This is a terrific example of what can be accomplished when residents come together to protect what they value about their community,” said Nellie Aikenhead, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “Boxford citizens worked hard with town and state officials, nonprofit organizations and private supporters to save this part of the town’s rural heritage. Our success is a testament to the power of partnership.” The Trust began negotiating to purchase the property from Habitech, Inc. last year at the request of town officials.

Funding for the $4.75 million acquisition came from several sources, including $3.16 million from the Town, $240,000 in private donations raised by BTA/BOLT, and $100,000 contributed by the Essex County Greenbelt Association. In addition, DEM contributed $1 million, and the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) made a grant of $250,000 to the Town for the purchase.

The EOEA grant and a $500,000 portion of DEM’s contribution were made possible by an allocation from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Program.

“The best land protection projects are often the most complicated, as this project and all of its partners beautifully demonstrate,” said Jennifer Soper, regional planner for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a flexible federal grant program, and a great fit. Both the state’s Department of Environmental Management and the Town of Boxford will benefit and, because of their efforts, so will every visitor – human and otherwise – to this wonderful property.”

“The Sawyer/Richardson parcel has regional significance for conservation,” said Ed Becker, executive director of the Essex County Greenbelt Association. “Greenbelt commends all of the partners in this project whose generosity and hard work made it a success.”

Adjacent to 2,000 acres of protected open space, including the Boxford State Forest, Phillips Wildlife Sanctuary, and several Greenbelt-owned properties, the Sawyer-Richardson property has long been a top conservation priority for the Town and the conservation community. It contains miles of hiking trails, connections to the 200-mile Bay Circuit Trail, breathtaking vistas, and a variety of terrain types. The land also includes streams, wetlands, woodlands, unusual rocky overlooks, and 24 vernal pools, which provide habitat for rare species of wildlife, such as the blue-spotted salamander, four-toed salamander, and spotted turtle.

Boxford Trails Association (BTA) was formed in 1978 for the purpose of preserving and protecting trails in the Town of Boxford, Massachusetts, for passive recreation. Fifteen years later, the mission of the organization was broadened to include permanently protecting environmentally important land. To reflect this expanded mission, the name of the organization was changed to BTA/BOLT (Boxford Trails Association/Boxford Open Land Trust). BTA/BOLT accomplishes its mission both by acquiring land for conservation, and by working in cooperation with private landowners, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Town of Boxford, and other nonprofit conservation groups to permanently protect land from development.

The Essex County Greenbelt Association was founded in 1961 and has protected nearly 11,000 acres of land across Essex County. Greenbelt protects land for its wildlife habitat and agricultural value and to preserve scenic landscapes.

The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including nearly 10,000 acres in Massachusetts.