The property contains nearly a mile of frontage on the Taunton River, a federally designated wild and scenic river, as well as a mixture of open fields, marshes, red maple swamp and riparian forests.
Wildlands Trust bought the property from Easton-based builder Douglas A. King for $250,000. The Trust will manage the property as a wildlife preserve. The Nature Conservancy and Wildlands Trust raised the funds needed for the purchase from private foundations and individuals.
The Taunton property will be added to the Wildlands Trust’s 63-acre Oxbow Preserve, located just upstream on the Raynham side of the river. In total, nearly 175 contiguous acres of land have been conserved on both sides of the river since 2008.
“The Taunton River watershed continues to be a priority for Wildlands Trust,” said Karen Grey, the Trust’s Executive Director. “This project presented a great opportunity to protect river frontage in a rapidly growing area.”
The conservation organizations started working with the landowner on the preservation of this property nearly four years ago.
“This is a multi-year effort involving multiple funders. We are grateful to the organizations and individuals who supported the project,” said Wayne Klockner, State Director and Vice President of The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.
The Sheehan Family Foundation, The Volgenau Foundation, the Ackerman Fund, and Peter Wheeler and Elizabeth Munro were all generous supporters of the project, Klockner said.
“The area around the oxbow possesses great ecological significance,” said Scott MacFaden of the Wildlands Trust. “With extensive river frontage, an oxbow island, open fields, vernal pools, bottomland forest and a globally rare freshwater tidal marsh, this area provides habitat for countless species.”
“It’s also important to cite the collaborative nature of this acquisition,” said MacFaden. “TNC has become a valued partner that shares many of our land protection aspirations, particularly in the Taunton River watershed, and its continuing willingness to invest serious resources in the watershed has helped make projects like this possible”.
Both The Nature Conservancy and Wildlands Trust are part of the Taunton River Coalition, a coalition of conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to preserving the land and natural resources of the Taunton River watershed. The groups are also members of the Taunton River Stewardship Council, established as part of the river’s designation as a National Wild and Scenic River and that includes community, nonprofit, and governmental representatives.
The two portions of the Oxbow Preserve surround 66 acres of privately owned land that has been protected by a conservation easement since 2011. The Nature Conservancy and Wildlands Trust worked with the landowner and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service Wetland Reserve Program – which has a goal of protecting and restoring altered, marginal farmland to wetland habitat – to place the easement on the land adjacent to the Oxbow Preserve. The federally held easement conserves the land in perpetuity.
In the future, Wildlands Trust hopes to open the Raynham portion of the Oxbow Preserve to the public for passive recreation, including river access for kayaks and canoes.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.