HARWICH — “It was a final piece to a land conservation puzzle we’ve worked on for 23 years,” Harwich Conservation Trust Director Michael Lach said this week of the trust’s purchase of a one-acre parcel in the Coy’s Brook/Herring River Watershed.
Lach said over those 23 years the trust has managed to purchase and preserve 28 acres in the watershed, establishing the Coy’s Brook Woodlands to preserve water quality and protect a major wildlife habitat while creating scenic walking trails.
There was one outstanding lot off Lothrop Avenue essential to the completion of the land conservation puzzle and the trust set a goal of purchasing it by the end of 2019. There was an end of the year deadline to raise $90,000 to match a $90,000 challenge to meet the $180,000 goal.
“It was down to the wire, as it usually is with a fund-raising campaign, but the folks really rallied to meet the deadline,” Lach said. “The community’s success was a great way to round out 2019 and start 2020.”
The lot, Lach said, is perched above Coy’s Brook and abuts the additional 27 acres purchased by the trust over more than two decades. Its value includes scenic beauty and a diverse mix of habitats, including salt marsh, woodland, red maple wetland, Atlantic white cedar wetland, and a vernal pool.
“In addition, a walking trail wanders through the landscape offering marsh vistas framed by tupelos. If this lot was lost, then habitats and wildlife would have suffered and the nearby walking trail experience would have been forever altered. Instead, thanks to you, the ‘last lot’ is now forever preserved,” Lach told HCT supporters.
The Trust has another ambitious year ahead. The Cape Cod Compact of Conservation Trusts has just purchased 6.65 acres of land from Martin and Janice Rich along Deacon’s Folly Road in North Harwich and will be holding the land while the trust mounts a fund-raising campaign to raise $1,225,000 to take ownership of the parcel.
HCT and town officials were discussing a joint purchase of the property with the town’s affordable housing trust, which was considering the use of a portion of the land to develop affordable housing. Lach said that initiative is no longer underway by the town. The Compact’s purchase provides the opportunity for the trust to preserve the property in its entirety. The trust will launch a fundraising campaign as 2020 unfolds, hoping to reach the funding goal by Dec. 31.
A seven-lot subdivision plan was recently approved for the property, Lach said. The parcel is also part of a land conservation puzzle, he said. It is adjacent to HCT open space, town land and town conservation land adjacent to Herring River.
“Residents have the opportunity to finish a larger land conservation puzzle and help protect the water quality of Sand Pond, West Reservoir and the Herring River,” Lach said of the newest initiative.