Land trust enters sales agreement on 120 acres, still needs funds
MATTAPOISETT– The Mattapoisett Land Trust has reached an agreement to purchase 120 acres near Pine Island Pond.
The land, which includes the crumbling foundation of a summer home once occupied by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., adjoins 310 acres already owned by the trust and will provide a wildlife corridor stretching from Buzzards Bay to Rochester.
The agreement triggers a campaign by the nonprofit land trust to raise the $1.5 million purchase price.
“From a wildlife habitat perspective, this is a home run,” said Land Trust President Mike Huguenin.“It’s a tremendous piece of property. It’s big enough and it’s in the right place to really be very important for wildlife,” he said.
The conservation organization hopes to close the deal with the property’s current owner, the Hiller family, by the end of June 2020. It has already paid $20,000 to the Hiller family.
Huguenin said $150,000 toward the purchase has already been raised through private donations.
The trust plans to seek the remaining funds from a combination of the Town of Mattapoisett and donations.
Following the purchase, the land trust plans to construct trails, a parking lot and a park.
In explaining the significance of the planned purchase, Huguenin noted that it will provide connectivity to Haskell Swamp Wildlife Management Area, thousands of acres that extend to Rochester.
Huguenin hopes this wildlife corridor will eventually encourage bald eagles to nest in Mattapoisett.
And simply leaving the waterfront land undeveloped will allow the land to do its job of buffering other land from the effect of stronger storms and higher tides.
Since Hurricane Bob, 25 years ago, Huguenin said he has seen a pattern of rising tides and more powerful storms.
“This is the kind of land we really like to leave empty and leave it for carbon absorption and leave it for wildlife,” he said.
Huguenin said the acquisition will open the property to the public for outdoor recreation.
Pine Island Pond, to which there is currently no public access, is ideal for kayaking, fishing, shellfishing, and swimming, he noted.
Land Trust plans include a small parking lot, a walkway across the salt marsh, and a float for access to shell fishing, swimming and kayaking.
There are also plans to extend five miles of hiking trails into the newly acquired land.
As for a Holmes park, the stone foundation to the justice’s home is all that remains after the structure burned to the ground in the late 1800s.
The Land Trust plans to add a kiosk commemorating Holmes and have hiking trails around the site.
Anyone wanting to donate to the land purchase is encouraged to go to www.mattlandtrust.org.