Current Projects

Creating Westport’s First Community Park

“With over two miles of trails, 60 acres of natural habitat, carriage paths, meadows and ample parking, WLCT believes this property will become a community resource for all to enjoy.”
-Ross Moran, Executive Director

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, Phase 2 of the project, follows WLCT’s February 2018 acquisition of the property in partnership with the Town of Westport. WLCT is now the owner of the entire 82 acres and the Town holds conservation restrictions over the property to ensure its forever protection. The transformation will reflect the property’s cultural history while preserving habitat, and connecting people to nature. Please continue reading for more information and consider donating today to support this effort.

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 nature.

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WLCT worked with a landscape architect to create a plan for the property that addresses three key components: landscape restoration, visitor experience and building renovation. Phase 2 will accomplish the following:

Landscape Restoration: WLCT will restore and maintain the stone walls, re-create the allee of trees down the center carriage path, and create meadows and open fields in the front of the property (where the buildings now stand). Those meadows will be maintained for natural habitat, with open areas for recreation, such as picnicking or flying a kite.

Visitor Experience: WLCT will create parking areas, create and maintain over 2 miles of trails, install signs to facilitate public access and to interpret the property’s features, and create a visitor’s center in the farm house. The visitor’s center will include interpretative panels on the property’s history, natural and cultural resources, as well as provide information about connecting with nature throughout Westport. Natural elements will be integrated into the landscape, such as a natural amphitheater, a natural play area, outdoor learning spaces and trail bridges.

Building Renovation: The farm house was most recently utilized as offices for the Diocese of Fall River. WLCT will renovate these offices and create a visitor’s center as explained above. The non-operational gymnasium on the property will remain for the next 3-5 years while WLCT continues to work with the Town’s Recreation Commission to identify potential uses and funds to maintain it.

The total cost of Phase 2 is $1.025 million, which includes the three aspects of the plan described above, as well as a $400,000 endowment to ensure the property’s care and maintenance into the future. WLCT has raised the endowment and is now working to raise the remaining $625,000 to make the property’s transformation possible.

Building removal will begin on August 6th and continue for up to six weeks. WLCT will implement the property transformation in fall and winter 2018, once funds are raised. WLCT hopes to open the property in April 2019.

Please donate today to help create your community park!

Please visit www.WestportLandTrust.org/creating-westports-first-community-park for information about a Public Preview Event on August 25th.

 

Forge Pond Conservation Area Phase Two

20160803-3w3a2775Photo by Greg Stone-Sweet Pepper Bush at the proposed Forge
Pond Conservation Area expansion

Forge Pond Phase II is an exciting project that will expand Forge Pond Conservation Area by more than 50 acres. Last year, WLCT acquired 33-acres off of American Legion Highway in a densely developed area surrounding the Noquochoke River–which flows into the upper east branch of the Westport River. This riverfront property offers stunning views not often seen by the public. WLCT is excited to open this property to the public in the coming years.

With this 33-acre acquisition complete, WLCT is now in the process of protecting an additional 23-acres of contiguous open space associated with the Noquochoke Village Affordable Housing project. In an effort to preserve open space, the Town of Westport required the developer to protect and open this 23-acre parcel to the public. WLCT will own and manage the property as an expansion to Forge Pond Conservation Area along with the 33-acre parcel acquired last year. When completed, Forge Pond Conservation Area will expand from 9 acres to almost 70 acres and new trails will showcase previously unseen views of the upper branch east branch of the Westport River north of Forge Pond.

 

Protecting Westport’s Farmland One Field at a Time

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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.”

 

Herb Hadfield Grassland Meadow Restoration

bluebird HHCA spring 2017

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.”