Support is growing to preserve 31 acres in the watershed to Hinckleys Pond at the headwaters of the Herring River. About 80 members of the Hinckleys Pond Association gathered on the land with Harwich Conservation Trust’s (HCT) staff and president during the sunny afternoon of July 31st to raise funds for this priority watershed land-saving project.
HPA members ranging from age 8 to 80-plus donated generously, including siblings Sebastian (age 8) and Solange (age 10) Riley-Faggen who sold hand painted shells and lemonade raising $80 for the project. Thanks to its members’ donations and pledges ranging from $25 to $5,000, the Hinckleys Pond Association (HPA) has raised more than $40,000 toward HCT’s $800,000 land-saving goal.
HCT volunteer Gerry Beetham captured the event with vibrant photos and HCT volunteer Steve Furlong piloted a drone for a bird’s eye aerial video (see photos and video below).
HPA President Deb Selkow wholeheartedly endorsed the ambitious 31-acre land-saving endeavor.
“Try to feel the movement of time itself that brought us here and that keeps going on. Feel the spirit and the determination that’s rising here to preserve this land and to protect the water. You don’t get to do things that mean something very often. But this is one of them,” said Selkow.
“It’s inspiring to see such a groundswell of neighborhood support for this priority watershed project,” said Michael Lach, HCT’s executive director. “They recognize that the best way to protect the health of Hinckleys Pond and Herring River is to preserve the surrounding land like this 31-acre property.”
HCT President Tom Evans spoke about the bigger water quality picture since the Herring River flows from Hinckleys Pond all the way to Nantucket Sound and HCT has been very active in saving land in the river’s watershed.
“Over several decades now, beginning with the Town’s acquisition of the Bell’s Neck Conservation area, the Town and the Trust have both worked hard to create what is now essentially a conservation – wildlife – water quality corridor extending from Nantucket Sound all the way up to Hinckleys Pond. What better way to protect that entire watershed than to protect its headwaters? And especially when so many of the Cape’s estuaries are now struggling with nitrogen and phosphorus overloading,” said Evans.
Property owners Fred and Barbara Jenkins were there in support of the event. Fred shared his family’s history with the land and why they’re choosing a conservation future with HCT.
Fred and his father Jim purchased the Harwich bogs in 1997 and farmed together until Jim’s passing in 2018. Because it’s become increasingly difficult to make a farming profit due to cranberry oversupply from the Midwest and Canada, Fred and Barbara decided to complete their last harvest in 2020. They could have developed the upland into a subdivision, but instead envisioned a conservation legacy by working with HCT. It will be a new chapter for this highly visible and ecologically important 31-acre property in the watershed of Hinckleys Pond and Herring River.
The Brown family who owns a bog on the opposite side of the pond enthusiastically supports the project. They are working with HCT on researching eco-restoration potential for their bog. Melissa Bride, daughter of Jake and Barbara Brown, spoke strongly in favor of the project.
“The proposed ecological restoration of the bog would protect another key part of the Herring River watershed, restore natural habitats, provide educational opportunities and extend public access to this wonderful property. We need to aggressively protect Hinckleys Pond and the watershed.” said Bride.
Click here to learn more about eco-restoration benefits.
Lach highlighted that the property offers scenic views along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, Headwaters Drive and Pleasant Lake Avenue (Rt. 124). While leading the land fundraising campaign, HCT is also researching the cost for ecological restoration of the retired bog to enhance habitat diversity, water quality, and the walking trail experience. HCT is exploring collaboration with the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School located directly across the street to offer students and faculty “outdoor classroom” learning opportunities.
In late June, the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation & Recreation, which owns and manages the Cape Cod Rail Trail, contributed $180,000 to the project by purchasing a 1.4-acre parcel on the bike path. The state’s investment combined with HPA’s effort plus donations to HCT so far has raised $230,000.
There is a $220,000 challenge waiting in the wings, which leaves $350,000 left to raise to complete the $800,000 campaign.
“We’ve done it before and we can do it again, but only if everyone pitches in to protect land and water,” said Lach.