'Nasketucket Bay is a local treasure'


On Nasketucket Bay (Buzzards Bay Coalition photo)

By ecoRI News staff

The Buzzards Bay Coalition recently celebrated with representatives from federal and state government and local town officials the protection of more than 400 acres of beaches, salt marshes, forests, fields and coastal farmland in Fairhaven and Mattapoisett, Mass., and the opening of a new public trail connecting the regional bike path with the Nasketucket Bay State Reservation.

Completed last December, the Nasketucket Bay Land Conservation Project is a four-year, $6 million initiative to permanently protect 416 acres on Nasketucket Bay. This project — the largest land-conservation effort completed on Buzzards Bay in 25 years — resulted in the expansion of the Nasketucket Bay State Reservation, the protection of 190 acres of active farmland and the preservation of 226 acres for public recreational use.

The effort was spearheaded by the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC), a membership-supported nonprofit that works to protect water resources in communities across the South Coast and Cape Cod.

“Few of Massachusetts’ scoastal bays have such rich natural resources as Nasketucket Bay, and that’s due in large part to protecting the forests, salt marshes and beaches that surround it,” BBC president Mark Rasmussen said. “By conserving this land and creating a new public trail, we are protecting clean water in Nasketucket Bay and improving the community’s access and connection with the shore.”

As part of the land conservation project, the BBC opened a new public trail that connects the popular bike path through Fairhaven and Mattapoisett with the state reservation and Nasketucket Bay. This trail, called Shaw Farm Trail, offers beautiful views of active farm fields as it crosses through forests, streams and meadows.

To create the trail, the BBC ensured rights to cross over private farmland and worked with volunteers and the community to improve the trail this spring. Local residents can access Shaw Farm Trail from the state reservation and from the bike path between Shaw Road and Brandt Island Road.

“I’m thrilled to see the completion of the Nasketucket Bay Land Conservation project after four years of dedicated conservation efforts,” said U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Bourne. “Nasketucket Bay is a local treasure. From its stunning scenery to its rich natural resources, Nasketucket has so much to offer to our community. That is why I am so proud that so many individuals and organizations came together in order to preserve and protect this unique natural resource.”

Funding to complete the project came from many sources, including the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Division of Conservation Services. Federal government support came from the Fish & Wildlife Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

The project also received funding from the Bouchard B-120 Oil Spill Trustee Council, composed of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Fish & Wildlife Service.

Additional support from this project included the towns of Fairhaven and Mattapoisett, The Nature Conservancy, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Mattapoisett Land Trust and several private foundations and donors.

“Town Meeting members in Fairhaven and Mattapoisett should be commended for voting to support this project with Community Preservation funds, as well as the Buzzards Bay Coalition for providing the leadership to make it happen,” said Fairhaven Selectman Robert Espindola. “The bike path is one of our most treasured assets in town, and this was a great opportunity to enhance that asset with connectivity to hiking trails and the ocean, all while protecting Nasketucket Bay.”