Saving New England's wildlife grant sets habitat protection in motion in Massachusetts

NORTH ANDOVER, MASS. — January 4, 2010 — The Open Space Institute, through its Saving New England’s Wildlife initiative, has assisted The Trust for Public Land (TPL) in the permanent protection of the 195-acre Windrush Farm in North Andover and Boxford, Massachusetts.

The farm, a mix of fields, forest and a rare Atlantic White Cedar Bog that is prime wildlife habitat, is also the longtime home base of Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation, Inc. (WFTE), which each year provides equine-assisted therapies to more than 300 children and adults with disabilities.

In May 2009, North Andover voters approved $2.5 million in Conservation Preservation Act funding for the project. A $300,000 grant from OSI’s Saving New England’s Wildlife program, along with a combination of state, local and foundation funding, as well as donations from 468 individual donors, helped secure the acquisition.

“The Trust for Public Land is grateful to OSI for its invaluable contribution to the permanent protection of Windrush Farm,” said TPL project manager Darci Schofield. “The Saving New England’s Wildlife program allowed TPL and our partners to leverage significant funding for its protection while highlighting the rare species communities and important wildlife habitat on the property.”

Launched in July 2009 and capitalized with a lead grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, OSI’s Saving New England’s Wildlife initiative awards grants in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to sustain, protect and enhance ecologically critical lands and waters identified by State Wildlife Action Plans, making the vision of the action plans a reality.

Windrush Farm contains state-recognized critical wildlife habitat supporting rare and endangered species such as Blanding’s turtle and blue-spotted salamander. Its protection creates a nearly 1,800-acre contiguous block of conservation land and connects to an extensive network of trails that includes the Bay Circuit Trail and trails in Boxford State Forest. Conserving Windrush Farm also protects the Ipswich River watershed—providing drinking water to more than 330,000 residents in 15 Massachusetts communities.

“OSI is pleased to support the conservation of Windrush Farm,” said Jennifer Melville, OSI’s New England field coordinator, “where a locally owned business, community recreational use and wildlife habitat protection can successfully coexist.”

The town of North Andover purchased 160 acres of the property to be held and managed for conservation purposes, and WFTE has acquired the remaining 35 acres, including buildings, paddocks, and pastures. Three conservation restrictions provide a consistent layer of protection across the entire Windrush Farm property. The Essex County Greenbelt Association, a regional land trust, will hold and monitor all the conservation restrictions and the towns of North Andover and Boxford will co-hold two of the three restrictions.

“We are overwhelmed and grateful for the extraordinary generosity and support from so many from here in town, around the state, and across America,” said Paul Spiers, president of WFTE’s Board of Directors. “With the help of hundreds of donors, Windrush Farm is conserved and WFTE can sustain its services for people with significant disabilities.”

Founded in 1964 by Marjorie Kittredge, WFTE is the pioneer of more than 780 programs of its kind supported by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. WFTE plans to expand the number and variety of programs to include the general public, such as community gardens and summer camps.

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