The Trust’s first land donation in 1990 was a pondfront building lot on Mill Pond. Over the years, the Trust has helped protect over 104 acres with 5,700 feet of shoreline across seven different ponds. The goal of the Priority Ponds Project is to provide landowners with land conservation options that help protect pond water quality and wildlife habitat. The Priority Ponds Project is a campaign under the Trust’s broader Save Land – Save Water Initiative to save lands that help protect both fresh and coastal water resources.
The Trust’s Harwich Priority Ponds Project is important because according to a two-year regional study completed by The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts (www.thecompact.net, click Regional Projects) many Harwich ponds are at risk. Capewide, The Compact identified 200 high priority pondfront lands, which, if acquired as open space, could help protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. Harwich holds 10% of the total Capewide priority acreage. Lands are strung across 14 ponds in Harwich, tied with Barnstable for the most ponds with priority parcels.
With its Priority Ponds Project, the Trust has preserved significant acreage around sensitive ponds, including:
- 0.33-acre with 95 feet of frontage on Mill Pond in 1990 (first gift of land to HCT);
- 5.9 acres with 775 feet of frontage on Sand Pond in 2001 (purchase);
- 8.7 acres with 600 feet of frontage on Katie’s Pond in 2002 (purchase);
- 5.3 acres with 660 feet of frontage on Long Pond in 2002 (privately owned with a conservation restriction held by HCT);
- 5.2 acres with 483 feet of frontage on Hinckleys Pond in 2003 (privately owned with a conservation restriction held by HCT);
- 13.3 acres with 600 feet of frontage on Walkers Pond in 2003 (HCT holds a conservation restriction over the Town Land Bank purchase, which enabled the Town to qualify for and receive a $250,000 State Self-Help Grant that reduced the Town’s cost from $725,000 to $475,000) [Note that Walkers Pond is a coastal plain pond, a globally significant habitat harboring rare plant species];
- 24 acres with 754 feet on Hinckleys Pond and 1,254 feet on Seymours Pond, plus a total of 959 feet on two herring runs;
- 5.86 acres with approximately 300 feet on Long Pond, Cape Cod’s largest pond and also a herring spawning pond;
- 38.7 acres with 180 feet of frontage on Mill Pond (HCT jointly holds a conservation restriction with Chatham Conservation Foundation on land owned by the Towns of Chatham and Harwich).
- 1.48 acres with approximately 150 feet on Seymour’s Pond, a herring spawning pond, as well as 250 feet on the historic Cahoon Canal