The Pleasant Bay Woodlands Project: A Legacy Landscape

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The nonprofit Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT) currently has an extraordinary one-timefor-July11-event_49-acre_Pleasant_Bay_Woodlands_Project_WATERSHED_map_2July2013_opt opportunity to purchase 49 acres in East Harwich on Cape Cod if it can raise $3.6 million by August 31, 2014. “We’ve been negotiating this purchase for 10 years. If we raise the funds, we can preserve the largest undeveloped, unprotected landscape in the Pleasant Bay watershed to protect woods, water and wildlife. Otherwise, a 40-lot subdivision could occupy the site with groundwater flowing directly into Round Cove on Pleasant Bay,” said Michael Lach, HCT Executive Director.

Thanks to the “Pleasant Bay Challenge,” every donation will be doubled by a group of challenge funders.  They include Wequassett Resort, The John T. Ryan, Jr. Memorial Foundation, The Friends of Pleasant Bay and three anonymous families.  So, donate today and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar.  Thanks to pledges and donations received, we have about $550,000 left to raise.

“Saving a legacy landscape like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You just don’t see many properties of this size left on the Cape. We’re launching this Pleasant Bay Woodlands Project during HCT’s 25th Anniversary Year. We’ve come a long way in 25 years, but this is still a big sum to raise, so we hope the Cape Cod community will dig deep and donate to help us succeed,” said Robert Smith, HCT President & Founding Trustee.

Protect the Top Priority Landscape in the 21,000-acre Watershed

This land is HCT’s top acquisition priority within the 21,000-acre Pleasant Bay watershed that encompasses the towns of Harwich, Chatham, Orleans & Brewster. HCT ranked this Pleasant Bay landscape as the top priority for protection after conducting a 200-parcel, town-wide analysis and it has taken consistent negotiations over those ten years to reach this point of opportunity.

49-acre_Pleasant-Bay-Woodlands_Project_map_28June2013_opt-1Protect Water Quality

The land is critical to protecting water quality in the Pleasant Bay Watershed because groundwater flows toward the estuary, which is already impaired owing to surrounding development with septic systems and consequent nitrogen-loading. Preservation of the property will also help to protect the quality of Harwich’s drinking water as the property lies within the recharge zone to public water supply wells that provide approximately 31% of the town’s drinking water to nearly 10,000 households.

Provide Walking Trails & Scenic Views

Preservation of this landscape will create a new conservation destination attractive for hiking and birding. The land offers a significant opportunity to create walking trails through pine-oak forest overlooking a cranberry bog.

Protect Wildlife Habitat

The habitats are used by resident and migratory wildlife for feeding, nesting, and sheltering. The habitat edge between the wooded upland and wetland attracts a variety of bird species. The land hosts potential vernal pools that can harbor sensitive species which are otherwise unable to survive without such habitats. Eastern box turtle, a Species of Special Concern in Massachusetts, has been observed in the vicinity.

Potential Archeological Importance

Professor Emeritus Timothy Earle, PhD, from Northwestern University’s Dept. of Anthropology and long-term summer resident of Orleans wants to organize archaeological research on this property to illuminate the local history of Harwich over the last 500 years, from Native American Indian uses through the colonial and 19th century periods.

Save Land—Save Water Initiative

HCT’s Save Land – Save Water Initiative was established to preserve priority watershed properties. A primary focus area of the initiative is the largest saltwater estuary on Cape Cod, the diverse and productive Pleasant Bay. The 9,000-acre bay — designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — and it’s watershed lie in Harwich, Chatham, Orleans, and Brewster. HCT’s Save Land – Save Water Initiative’s top priority is the protection of this 49-acre landscape known as the Pleasant Bay Woodlands Project.

HCT-Great Blue taking off-by_Janet_Dimattia_optControl Residential Growth

Cape Cod is facing some of the most intense development pressure in Massachusetts and the Northeast. Many ecologically valuable areas have been haphazardly developed over the past decades, depriving the Cape of scenic views, wildlife habitat, and recreational resources. If funds cannot be raised to purchase the property, it could be subdivided and developed into 40 houses. Development could negatively impact the water quality of Pleasant Bay, wildlife habitat, generate more traffic, and increase the demand for expensive municipal services, including wastewater treatment infrastructure.  With your help, we can raise the remaining $695,000 to save this 49-acre landscape.

Special note:
In August 2014, nearly 300 HCT donors helped to raise the $3.6 million necessary to preserve the 49-acre Pleasant Bay Woodlands. Congratulations!