HARWICH — The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, working with the Harwich Conservation Trust, has purchased the 7.9-acre cranberry bog along Bank Street formerly owned by John and Paula Sennott.
The purchase is instrumental to the Harwich Conservation Trust's ecological restoration plan for the Robert F. Smith Cold Brook Preserve, which the bog property abuts, giving the trust control of the water flow from Grass Pond.
Harwich Conservation Trust Executive Director Michael Lach said Tuesday the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts has pre-acquired the 7.9-acre bog for the trust, giving HCT time to pursue state and federal grants and fund-raising to purchase the property. The sale occurred on March 23; the price was $210,000.
Lach said the trust has been talking with the Sennotts for several years about acquiring the bog when they were ready to transition out of the cranberry business. The bog has been fallow for a couple of years. John Sennott has told The Chronicle in the past it is because he could not make a profit with the price of cranberries.
“I think it's another positive example of how these long-term conversations can result in conservation benefits,” Lach said.
The purchase, Lach said, helps to support the long-range plan for the Cold Brook ecological restoration project (see related story). A major benefit in the purchase is gaining control of the water rights the Sennotts had from an agricultural easement allowing the cranberry grower to redirect water from Cold Brook into his bogs.
“The main element was to naturalize the Cold Brook water flow,” Lach said of the importance of steady water flow through the brook. The brook is a passageway for the American eel, which resides in Grass Pond, and for some herring which use the headwater pond for spawning. “Historically, the flow has been redirected to the bog. We want to restore the flow to Saquatucket Harbor and restore the eel and herring run to the pond.”
There is a fish ladder on the west side of Bank Street, which is designed to assist eels entering Grass Pond. Lach said the purchase of the bog comes with an easement to access the brook and fish ladder on that side of Bank Street. The state Division of Marine Fisheries is undertaking a two-year feasibility study examining restoration of the Cold Brook herring run, he added.
As for the future of the bog, Lach said HCT examines property use on a case-by-case basis. A bog the trust purchased along Sand Pond in North Harwich is leased to a local cranberry grower. Each bog has a unique condition and future, he said, based on how it fits into the bigger picture.