Land Protection Projects:
WLCT is in the midst of several major land protection projects. When completed, these projects will protect over 100 acres of scenic and sensitive land in Westport. If you have any questions regarding these or any of our other projects, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your support and interest!
Creating Westport’s First Community Park
The Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) has launched an effort to transform the 82-acre former St. Vincent de Paul property, on Adamsville Road, into a community park. The effort follows WLCT’s February 2018 acquisition of the property in partnership with the Town of Westport. The transformation will reflect the property’s cultural history while preserving habitat, and connecting people to nature.
In the fall of 2017, WLCT and the Town invited the community to provide feedback on the property’s future. Over 200 community members shared their thoughts about the need for more open space where families can hike, enjoy a picnic, engage in recreation like kite flying and tossing a football or Frisbee, all in a wide open park-like landscape. Based on the public response, WLCT created a vision to create a community open space that welcomes individuals, families and groups, protects significant natural resources and connects people to the outdoors.
WLCT worked with a landscape architect to create a plan for the property, which addresses: landscape restoration, visitor experience and building removal and renovation. First, WLCT will remove the majority of the former camp buildings and renovate the farm house into a visitor’s center and office for WLCT. Second, WLCT will restore and maintain the stone walls, recreate the allee of trees down the center carriage path, and restore the footprints of the original farm fields with meadows and open fields (where the buildings now stand). Finally, WLCT will create parking areas, trails and signs on the property to facilitate public access and to interpret the property’s natural and cultural features. WLCT will maintain the nonoperational gymnasium on the property into the immediate future and will continue to work with the Town’s Recreation Commission to create a plan for its potential future use.
“After the community’s overwhelming support to acquire and protect this property, as well as its thoughtful feedback about the property’s future, WLCT is thrilled to start this second phase,” said Ross Moran, WLCT’s Executive Director. “With over two miles of trails, 60 acres of natural habitat, carriage paths and ample parking, WLCT believes this property will become a community resource for all to enjoy.”
WLCT partnered with the Town in 2017 to acquire and protect this significant property. The Town supported the acquisition by acquiring conservation restrictions over the property for a contribution of $599,000, and a $196,000 statewide Land Acquisition for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant. WLCT raised over $1.2 million from private sources. WLCT now seeks to raise $1.025 million from private sources to make phase two a reality.
“In addition to being a funding partner, the Town of Westport invested the work of staff members and six boards and committees to determine the best plan for this property, “said Trip Millikin, WLCT’s Board President. “This is a unique property that required thoughtful planning and collaboration. The Town has been a committed and invested partner every step of the way and WLCT is thrilled to work with the community to create this park.”
WLCT plans to begin building removal in summer of 2018 and will follow with landscape restoration. Once this work is complete, WLCT will have a public opening no later than April 2019. It will have a community-wide event on the property on August 25, 2018. Please visit http://www.westportlandtrust.org for more information about the community event. WLCT will update this page with project updates. Please call (508) 636-9228, ext. 4 with questions and to support phase two of this project, or you may DONATE NOW.
Protecting Westport’s Farmland One Field at a Time
The Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) is pleased to announce the protection of two roadside farm fields – the 2.47-acre Wood Farm South Lot, located in Central Village, and a 15-acre field owned by the Russell family located on the corner of Hix Bridge and Horseneck roads.
Both of these properties have been in active agriculture for decades and their protection was achieved in partnership with the Town of Westport and with support from the community. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), with partial funding support from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), was the lead partner in the protection of the Russell family field.
“WLCT has partnered with the Town and Commonwealth of Massachusetts to protect working farmland since 1983. We are thrilled to announce these latest partnerships to protect two important farm fields in Westport, “said Trip Millikin, WLCT board president.
The 2.47-acre Wood Farm South Lot was acquired by WLCT on June 15, 2018 for $150,000. Westport’s Open Space/Agricultural Trust Fund committed $75,000 to acquire a conservation restriction over this parcel. This property exemplifies Westport’s unique rural character and complements the dense development in Central Village while also contributing to the water quality of Angeline Brook. Over 60 families and friends supported this property’s protection. WLCT will own and manage this field and Jim Wood’s cows will continue to graze the land.
MDAR acquired an agricultural preservation restriction over the 15-acre Russell Family farm field on May 29, 2018. The Town of Westport provided $140,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds and WLCT raised $225,000 in private funds, with lead support from an anonymous foundation, to make this project possible. “MDAR is grateful to the Town of Westport, the Westport Land Conservation Trust and NRCS for partnering with local communities to protect Massachusetts’ prime farmland,” adds MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux, referencing the Russell property. “Working to actively protect farmland and rural landscapes will benefit our communities and local economy for years to come.”
As part of this project, an additional 34 acres on Horseneck Road owned by the Russell family will also be protected with a conservation restriction. The combined 49 acres will compliment an already protected track of over 400 acres in the Horseneck Road corridor. “My brother Bill and I were very excited to partner with the Town, the APR Program, and WLCT to preserve this important farmland, and we are proud to continue the legacy that our parents, Bob and Carol, began here in Westport in the early 80’s. In total, our family has preserved over 400 acres of working farmland that will forever contribute to the town’s agricultural economy and scenic landscape,” said Rob Russell
The Westport community has valued its farmland over the years, protecting notable properties such as the Westport Rivers Vineyard and Winery on Horseneck Road and Andrew Orr’s Farm on Adamsville Road. “The Westport community’s support of the Community Preservation Act and the Agricultural/Open Space Preservation Trust Fund, along with local philanthropy, have been essential components to land protection efforts in Westport,” said Ross Moran, WLCT’s executive director. “Working together with we have protected over 2,000 acres of Westport’s farms since 1983, one field at a time.”
Forge Pond Conservation Area Phase Two
Forge Pond Phase II is an exciting project that will greatly expand the Forge Pond Conservation Area. Conservation of this 33-acre property has been a priority for WLCT and the Town of Westport for almost a decade. Title issues derailed its pending conservation in 2011. Following the resolution of those issues, WLCT has again entered into an agreement to purchase the property. This forested property contains sensitive wetland buffers adjacent to the upper east branch of the Westport river north of Old County Road. Protection of this property is key to protecting clean water entering the Westport Rivers.
Land Stewardship Projects:
With over 1,000 acres of open space to manage, WLCT takes an active approach to improving wildlife habitat, opening new trails to promote public access, and monitoring our conserved lands. To learn more about any of our current land stewardship projects, please contact Brendan@WestportLandTrust.org.
Herb Hadfield Grassland Meadow Restoration
Photo by Greg Stone- An eastern bluebird on April 16, 2017 at the
Herb Hadfield Grassland Meadow Restoration
In March of 2016, we received news that our Herb Hadfield Grassland Meadow Restoration project proposal to MassWildlife’s competitive Habitat Management and Improvement Grant program had been successful. We were awarded $12,122.95 in grant funding from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to complete the 5.75-acre grassland meadow restoration at the recently expanded 158-acre Herb Hadfield Conservation Area.
Consistent with a 2009 WLCT management plan authored by forester Mike Labossiere, formerly of The Trustees, the restoration initiative began in early 2015 with the clearing of a 5.75-acre section within the central portion of the Herb Hadfield Conservation Area. The project has rapidly progressed since the initial timber harvest and to date we have seeded over 300 lbs. of native warm season grass mix and installed ten nesting boxes on the site to improve wildlife habitat for a variety of bird species. We look forward to seeding in a diversity of native wildflowers in subsequent years.
“These (MassWildlife Habitat Management and Improvement) grants will allow municipalities and conservation organizations to improve wildlife habitats and enhance recreational opportunities for people who enjoy hunting, bird watching and other outdoor recreation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This grant underscores our commitment to protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources.”