HARWICH — The Harwich Conservation Trust has met its goal of raising $1,225,000 to buy 6.65 acres in the Sand Pond Woodlands. The acquisition puts in place the final piece of a 75-acre land connection puzzle along the Herring River.
Purchase of the 6.65 acres will not occur until the spring of 2021, said Harwich Conservation Trust Executive Director Michael Lach, because the trust will have to comply with state grant requirements associated with a portion of the funding.
The property off Deacon’s Folly Road, adjacent to conservation land running along Sand Pond, was approved for a seven-lot subdivision. The trust has been working on the acquisition over the past year, and received help from the Cape Cod Compact for Conservation Trusts, which purchased the property to provide time for the trust to raise the necessary funds to buy the land. Lach said two anonymous families stepped up with major donations early in the fundraising process, one family committing $650,000 over a five year period and the other pledging $350,000 over two years.
In June, HCT announced the campaign to raise the additional $225,000 by the end of December. The goal was met with the recent announcement of an $85,000 Conservation Partnership grant from the state Division of Conservation Services.
“We appreciate all the forward thinking, conservation-minded people, families, foundations and businesses who donated to this grassroots effort.” Lach said. “The success of the Sand Pond watershed project is an inspiring example of how partnerships can make a lasting difference in our shared Cape Cod quality of life.”
Part of a 75-acre conservation network along the Herring River corridor, the Sand Pond parcel connects with several other conservation parcels that have been preserved over the past two decades through the trust and a land purchase approved by a town meeting vote in 1994.
“By preserving the 6.65 acres, [supporters] helped to complete a significant land conservation puzzle in the watershed of Sand Pond and the Herring River,” Lach said.
The purchases over the past 20 years, Lach said, preserved a number of walking trails on the north side of Great Western Road from the Herring River to Sand Pond. The town has 50 acres of conservation land along the Herring River corridor. In 2001 the trust was bequeathed 2.63 acres along Main Street, and HCT purchased another six acres on the north side of Sand Pond, including 775 feet of shoreline on the pond. In 2007, the trust acquired 4.5 acres just west of the pond and in 2014 acquired another 11.34 acres between Main Street and Great Western Road, including an active cranberry bog. The 6.65 acres to be purchased abuts the bog.
“So much has happened with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lach said. “This makes the Sand Pond Woodland project an inspiring story. The folks have really rallied for land, water, wildlife and for future generations.”
On the south side of Great Western Road, the town has 200 acres preserved in the Bell’s Neck Conservation Area. Lach emphasized the importance of preserving the lands based on nitrogen impairment of the river and the Herring River watershed. Reducing development and eliminating new septic systems is integral to improving the health of the watershed and reducing the cost of sewering, he said.