NRDAR Funds Contribute to Larger Partnership Protecting 416 Acres in Massachusetts

Last edited 09/03/2020

This summer a land protection celebration hosted by Buzzards Bay Coalition in Fairhaven, Massachusetts brought together federal, state, and local government to celebrate a partnership that has protected more than 400 acres of beaches, salt marshes, forests, fields, and coastal farmland. The parcel will connect to Nasketucket Bay State Reservation and provide additional public shoreline access. As part of the land protection celebration, a new public hiking trail Shaw Farm Trail was officially opened.

The FWS, along with co-Trustees NOAA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, provided $960,000 from the Bouchard Oil Spill settlement towards the effort. Another $1 million was provided from the FWS North American Coastal Wetland Conservation Program. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the towns of Mattapoisett and Fairhaven, and a number of other foundations and private donors also provided funds for the $6 million project.

The acquisition was a key project for the Bouchard Oil Spill Trustees who sought to restore impacted shoreline and aquatic habitats and increase recreational opportunities. On April 27, 2003 Bouchard Barge-120 hit rocks off the Westport Shore, cutting a 12-foot gash in its hull and spilling 98,000 gallons of oil, impacting nearly 100 miles of shoreline in Buzzards Bay.  A $6 million natural resource damage settlement was reached with the Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. to restore shoreline and aquatic resources, lost recreational uses and impacts to piping plovers.

Nearly 100 people turned out for the celebration, where speakers emphasized that partnerships made the project possible and the benefits of the protection effort for coastal wildlife,  residents, and visitors to the area. The spectacular coastal property contains large blocks of grassland and shrublands, as well as coastal maritime forests and expansive salt marshes and sandy beaches. More than 204 species of birds have been documented in the area, including endangered and threatened species such as roseate terns and piping plovers, as well as at least 20 species on the FWS list of Birds of Conservation Concern. (e.g., seaside sparrow, purple sandpiper, snowy egret). The project also provides numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation, including fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking.


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