Town joins Buzzards Bay Coalition, DNRT to preserve 115 acres by Allens Pond

Jul 6, 2016

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is joining forces with the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust and the Town of Dartmouth in chasing a $400,000 grant that would allow it to purchase and save a 115-acre property near Allens Pond.

The Ocean View Farm Conservation Project would cease development along both the Motha Farm, which borders the south side of Allen Neck Road, and the property extending from it toward the shoreline of Allens Pond.

“This is the one large piece of land around the Allens Pond estuary that is not yet protected [from development],” said Coalition Vice President Brendan Annett.

Listing rich wildlife and bird population, resources, views, and opportunities for trails, Annett said: “All of those things combined would be threatened by building roads and houses.”

The Coalition—working with the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT)—must secure $8.1 million by October 2017 to meet the terms of their purchase-and-sale agreement for the property. Part of that funding—$400,000—is dependent on a Local Areas for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant from the state, which the town is eligible for.

The Coalition staff has been working with Dartmouth’s Environmental Affairs Coordinator Michael O’Reilly to write the grant application, which is due July 13, said Annett, and needed authorization from the Select Board to send it on the Town’s behalf.

“I’m trying to think of another proposal that’s come before us that doesn’t require any town money. There’s not a dime here of town money,” Board member Shawn McDonald noted at a recent meeting. “All you’re asking of us is permission to go for a $400,000 grant. I recommend that we do so and do so with all expediency.”

Funding the purchase also depends on $3 million in federal grants, a $2 million contribution from Round the Bend Farm, $600,000 in Community Preservation Act funds, and $2.2 million in private fundraising.

The property is divided into coastal shrubs and salt marsh in the southern half, and agricultural fields in the north. DNRT will own and manage the southern half as a reserve open to the public, with the Coalition and Dartmouth’s Conservation Commission holding a conservation restriction to prohibit all development potential, said Annett.

Round the Bend Farm would own the northern section, with the Coalition and the United States Department of Agriculture holding an agricultural land easement over that section of the property to protect it from being converted away from agriculture.

A small trailhead and parking lot would be installed at the northern end of the property, and a trail would run along the farm fields down to the waterfront, said Annett.

Dexter Mead, executive director at DNRT, said that following parking lot, trail, and signage installation, the property could be open to the public by Spring 2018. DNRT will also be working on coastal shrubland restoration on areas closest to the water.

“Because it’s large and expensive, collaborating with the Conservation Committee and land trust will help make this work,” said Annett, who also helped secure 415 acres of Fairhaven and Mattapoisett for the Nasketucket Bay Land Conservation Project in 2014. Annett said the Ocean View Farm project is competitive for the grant.

The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the proposal, paving the way for the groups to go after the state grant, on June 27.

“I was very pleased that, generally, I was hearing the Select Board recognize the importance of the project,” said Annett. The project would not only benefit water quality and wildlife habitat, but also benefit the community, he said.