Windrush Farm Protected

Today The Trust for Public Land announced they have successfully completed the permanent protection of Windrush Farm in North Andover and Boxford, Massachusetts.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, partnered with Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation, Inc. (WFTE), the Towns of North Andover and Boxford, and Essex County Greenbelt Association (Greenbelt) for much of 2009 to conserve the 195-acre Windrush Farm and longtime WFTE headquarters. The partners needed to raise $3.5 million for the purchase price. A combination of Town and State funding, private foundations, and 468 individual donors contributed to the overall purchase price. TPL and partners also needed to finalize the terms of the purchase by Dec. 31, 2009, as required in the agreement.

“WFTE’s invaluable services, the outstanding natural resources on the property, and the Towns’ dedication allowed TPL to leverage funding locally, from the state, and across the country including donations from Hawaii, Texas, Arizona, Kansas, and Colorado,” said TPL project manager Darci Schofield. “Windrush Farm underscores the unique connection between land conservation and the vitality of a valuable economic and community asset, and we are grateful the property is forever protected.”

Windrush Farm-a 195-acre mix of fields, forest, and a rare Atlantic White Cedar Bog-is home to WFTE, which each year provides equine-assisted therapies to more than 300 children and adults with disabilities, including veterans of war.

“We are overwhelmed and grateful for the extraordinary generosity and support from so many from here in town, around the state, and across America,” said Paul Spiers, President of WFTE’s Board of Directors. “With the help of hundreds of donors, Windrush Farm is conserved and WFTE can sustain its services for people with significant disabilities.”

Founded in 1964 by Marjorie Kittredge, WFTE is the pioneer of more than 780 programs of its kind supported by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. WFTE plans to expand the number and variety of programs to include the general public, such as community gardens and summer camps.

Windrush Farm contains State-recognized critical wildlife habitat supporting rare and endangered species. Its protection creates a nearly 1800-acre contiguous block of conservation land and connects to an extensive trail network including the Bay Circuit Trail and trails in Boxford State Forest. Conserving Windrush Farm also protects the Ipswich River watershed-providing drinking water to more than 330,000 residents in 15 Massachusetts communities.

Voters at North Andover’s May 12 Town Meeting approved as much as $2.5 million in Community Preservation Act funds for the Windrush Farm Conservation Project. Grants secured by TPL on behalf of the town from the Open Space Institute and the State’s Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) program together reduce the town’s commitment from $2.5 million to nearly $1.7 million. TPL also secured a State conservation partnership grant program award for WFTE, reducing their purchase price by $85,000.

“The Commonwealth is pleasured to support this worthy land protection project,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. “I congratulate The Trust for Public Land, Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation, and their many partners for preserving this valuable habitat for public enjoyment, as well as expansion of WFTE’s valuable programs.”

Protection of Windrush Farm also helps the Towns of North Andover and Boxford and local and regional land trusts achieve their open space goals. As proposed, the Town of North Andover will ultimately purchase 160 acres of the property to be held and managed for conservation purposes, and WFTE will acquire the remaining 35 acres, including buildings, paddocks, and pastures. Three conservation restrictions will provide a consistent layer of protection across the entire Windrush Farm property. Greenbelt will hold and monitor all the conservation restrictions and the Towns of North Andover and Boxford will co-hold two of the three restrictions.

Ed Becker, Greenbelt’s Executive Director said “Windrush Farm has been a high priority for the entire conservation community for many years, because of the high quality wildlife habitat the property contains, its connections to the Boxford State Forest, and because of the unique contribution that WFTE itself makes to the region. We are excited to be part of a project that protects significant land and that that gives WFTE a secure home for the future.”

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 2.8 million acres of land nationwide, including nearly 13,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.

Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation, Inc. is a nonprofit working horse farm that provides effective innovative equine assisted therapies to more than 300 disabled children and adults each year. A pioneer in the field of equine therapy, WFTE’s mission is to use the horse to expand the personal, emotional, and physical boundaries of all persons.