Westport Land Conservation Partnership Announces Achievement of Significant Milestone:
2,000 Acres of Open Space and Farmland Protected in Last Ten Years
Westport, Massachusetts – May 7, 2012
The Westport Land Conservation Partnership today announced it is celebrating a significant milestone – 2,000 acres of land protected in Westport in the last decade. The Partnership between the Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) and The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), was created ten years ago to help preserve and protect the cultural, agricultural, and scenic resources that define the character of Westport that are so unique in the south coastal area of Massachusetts and beyond. The total acreage protected represents more than 50% of all land protected in Westport by WLCT and The Trustees since 1972. The partnership has been a success thanks to the willingness, passion, and commitment of the Westport community, the vision of WLCT to protect Westport’s natural and agricultural resources, and the exceptional technical resources and expertise provided by The Trustees.
The 2,000-acre goal was set ten years ago as part of an overall vision that included caring for protected land in ways valued by the community and making the land owned by WLCT more accessible for passive recreation throughout the Town. Adding to previously protected land, more than 3,800 acres have been protected in the last 40 years through agricultural preservation restrictions (1,900 acres), conservation restrictions (1,200 acres) and land donations to WLCT (700 acres). The bulk of this protected land (3,100 acres) remains in private ownership and on the Town’s tax rolls. Keeping protected land in private ownership has remained a consistent trend in the last ten years as well, with more than 1,500 of the 2,000 acres protected in the last 10 years remaining in private ownership.
Following are some highlights of the 2,000 acres protected in the past decade:
- 55 families worked with the Westport Land Conservation Partnership to protect their land.
- 637 acres of active farmland were protected through the Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program.
- 888 acres of privately owned land were protected with Conservation Restrictions.
- 488 acres were donated or sold to WLCT to own and manage.
- 352 acres of land owned by WLCT was opened as six public conservation areas with signage, parking areas, and trails.
- 99-year lease was put in place with The Trustees to restore and care for the Westport Town Farm.
“A key to the success of the last ten years has been the exceptional generosity of individual landowners who have donated conservation restrictions on their land and given land outright to WLCT. These landowners have recognized and valued Westport’s unique character by deciding to protect their land,” says Peggy Stevens, executive director of WLCT. As one of these landowners commented at the time of their donation, “Everyone who lives in Westport knows that they are sharing a treasure. Our logic is this: by giving away a conservation restriction on our land, we were doing what we could to insure that our children, and the community’s children, would continue to be enriched by the rare beauty of this place.”
Generous public and private financial support has been another essential key to success. For every $100 in private donations, an additional $22 came from the Town of Westport, $48 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and $20 from the Federal Government. The Town of Westport’s contribution came in the form of purchasing Conservation Restrictions and Agricultural Preservation Restrictions, using funds from the Community Preservation Act and from the Open Space and Agricultural Preservation Trust Fund. The funds from the Commonwealth came from the Department of Agricultural Resources (for APRs) and from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ statewide grant programs. The Federal Government’s support came through the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The unique character of Westport is evident to all – residents and visitor alike – through the diverse landscapes that one experiences when traveling throughout the Town. As Jennifer Dubois, The Trustees’ Director of South Coast Community Conservation comments, “Developed landscapes are balanced by working lands, scenic vistas, clean waterways, winding footpaths and historic landscapes, all protected because of the community’s commitment to them. This commitment will have a lasting impact for generations to come.”
The Westport Land Conservation Partnership has made a visible difference in the future of Westport – a difference made possible by collaborating with private donors, the Town of Westport, the Commonwealth, the Federal Government. Join WLCT and The Trustees over the coming months at their public programs: help clear a trail, volunteer at the community gardens, party at the Barn Dance, take in the sounds at the August Family Concert, and join in the fun at the Harvest Festival. Or simply celebrate the enduring presence of protected land here in Westport by riding your bike, taking a walk, paddling down the river, fishing or visiting a farmstand. For more information, please visit:www.westportlandtrust.org
Photographs: Digital photographs are available for publication. If interested, contact the Westport Land Conservation Office at (508) 636-9228.
More about the Westport Land Conservation Trust
Since its founding in 1972, the Westport Land Conservation Trust has assisted landowners in protecting more than 3,800 acres in Westport, Massachusetts. WLCT is a private non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to local land conservation on behalf of the Westport community. The organization accepts gifts of land and conservation restrictions on land, and assists farm owners in preserving farmland with agricultural preservation restrictions.
More about The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees of Reservations is the nation’s oldest statewide land conservation organization, founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891 to “hold in trust” and care for properties of scenic, cultural and natural significance. Supported by members, donors and thousands of volunteers, The Trustees own and manage 106 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts for current and future generations to enjoy. The Trustees work to promote healthy, active, and green communities locally across Massachusetts by providing hundreds of year-round programs, events and engagement opportunities for all ages. Most property entry fees, programs and events are free-of-charge or discounted for members. Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation movement and model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. One of the largest nonprofits in Massachusetts, The Trustees employ 150 full-time, 49 regular part-time, and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out more or to become a member or volunteer, please contactwww.thetrustees.org.