State Awards Over $1.5 Million in Land Protection Grants

Photo by Reggie Hall/The Conservation Fund

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration awarded more than $1.5 million in grant funding to two large-scale conservation projects on over 1,300 acres through the Landscape Partnership Grant Program. The investments are part of the Commonwealth’s efforts to protect lands that help address climate change, provide recreational opportunities and conserve critical habitat.

“The Landscape Partnership Grant Program serves as an excellent example of state government working closely with key stakeholders to ensure open space is safeguarded for years to come,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Mitigating the effects of climate change and protecting Massachusetts’ natural resources remains a high priority of our administration, and these projects highlight some of the many efforts being undertaken to benefit the Commonwealth far into the future.”

“Making the Commonwealth more resilient to climate change and ensuring diverse landscapes are preserved requires a collective effort from state government, local communities, advocacy groups, and stakeholders working together and addressing these issues head on,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The conservation of land that these grants will assist with will ensure habitats are protected for wildlife and plant species, while simultaneously increasing public access.”

Created in 2011 and funded through the governor’s annual capital budget, the Landscape Partnership Grant Program facilitates large acreage projects that sustain the integrity and resilience of ecosystems, enhance the viability of farm and forest economies, increase public outdoor recreational opportunities, and expand partnerships among state, municipal, and non-profit entities. Eligible projects must be a partnership between at least two eligible entities, including municipalities, non-profits, and state agencies, to acquire a minimum of 500 acres of contiguous land.

“The funding awarded through the Landscape Partnership Grant Program continues the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to support local efforts to protect the environment and address climate change,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The River to Range and Norcross Hill Conservation Projects are excellent examples of a partnership that seeks to conserve natural resources and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in an effort to protect the Commonwealth’s rich natural heritage for generations to come.”

The following projects received Landscape Partnership grants:

River to Range Project – $764,500

Recipients: Kestrel Land Trust and Department of Conservation and Recreation

Description: This project will acquire 765 acres in the Connecticut River Valley to preserve a scenic, recreational and biological connection between the Mt. Holyoke Range and the Connecticut River.

Norcross Hill Conservation Project – $811,125

Recipients: Department of Fish and Game, North County Land Trust and Mt. Grace Land Trust

Description: This project will protect 570 acres of land abutting the state’s Templeton Development Center, as part of an ongoing effort to achieve landscape-level connectivity in the southern portion of the Millers River watershed.

“I appreciate the administration’s commitment to creating more protected green space that will be enjoyed by generations to come,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “The Norcross Hill property is a great example of connecting areas that enhance the landscape.”

“Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to Kestrel Land Trust and the River to Range project for leading the conservation of 765 acres of Connecticut River Valley land,” said State Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). “I am tremendously glad to see this investment in western Massachusetts by the Baker-Polito administration, as well as the administration’s commitment to addressing climate change and preserving open space through initiatives such as this.

“It is exciting to see this great investment being made in our area,” said State Representative Daniel Carey (D-Easthampton). “The River to Range project will improve the quality of life not just for local residents but for visitors as well.  We know that Western Mass has so much to offer in terms of outdoor recreation and sharing these spaces while also ensuring they are preserved and protected is extremely important.  Thanks to everyone involved- it is great to see state government and local organizations partnering together toward accomplishing these goals.”

“Protecting and preserving the watershed along the Millers River has been a local legislative priority dating all the way back to Senator Bob Wetmore,” said State Representative Susannah Whipps (I-Athol). “I’m happy to see the tradition continue and grateful that the administration is assisting us to reach those goals.”

“The Connecticut River Valley is one of the gems of Massachusetts,” said State Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow). “It is important to preserve our Commonwealth’s natural beauty, in part because hiking trails like these can be enjoyed by every family, every resident, equally. They give everyone an equal chance to enjoy what Massachusetts has to offer.”

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