Thursday, January 13, 2011
Middlesex Land Trust Acquires Boardman Lane Property
The Middlesex Land Trust has purchased 53.8 acres of land on Boardman Lane to protect as open space, for $1.4M. The purchase used funds provided by the Army, ultimately through the Base Relocation and Closure Act. The Land Trust will be stewards of this land, which the Army Corps of Engineers set aside as mitigation for the loss of wetlands due to the construction of the Armed Forces Reserve Center being built at the site of the former Cucia Park.
“This joint project will provide for the permanent protection of sensitive upland and wetland habitats in the Sawmill Brook watershed, as well as provide public access to a beautiful open landscape. It’s a great result for the community of Middletown, the watershed, the Land Trust and the Army,” said Land Trust Managing Director, David Brown.
The Middlesex Land Trust is a non-profit agency dedicated to preserving land as open space. They currently own and manage over 800 acres in northern Middlesex County, including now about 250 acres in Middletown.
The acquisition was through the Army Compatible Use Buffer program, which allows the Army to prevent commercial development too near its facilities. Diane McCartin, the project manager for the Army base, said, “The purpose of the program is to allow the army to partner with a private non-profit to prevent commercial encroachment [around military facilities].” She said the program provides a security benefit to military installations, and also protects environmentally sensitive lands.
McCartin said that the Boardman Lane mitigation site was perfect under the program, “Ecologically, it’s connected to Sawmill Brook, the tributary that also feeds the Middletown AFRC site. There are wetlands on the site that have been degraded by animals grazing on them, and there are plenty of opportunities for controlling invasive species, planting native species to enhance the water quality, and preserving and protecting it as open space in perpetuity.”
McCartin and Brown both said that the acquisition by the Land Trust was challenging, primarily because Congress has restricted the ways in which the Army is able to purchase and transfer land. Brown praised McCartin’s efforts to enable them to use the Compatible Use Buffer program, “I have never worked with anybody more competent than Diane.”
This is the first time that the Army Reserve has ever used the Buffer program for one of their facilities.
There is a permanent conservation easement on the land, preventing any future development. Moreover, the purchase includes a cooperative agreement which will allow the Army to enter the land to carry out the mitigation efforts required under their wetlands permit. Those mitigation efforts include the removal of invasive species, a careful mowing schedule, and the planting of native trees and shrubs.
Brown said that after 5 years of the mandated mitigation, the land will be fully accessible to the public. He said that there will be no livestock grazing.
McCartin hailed the deal with the Middlesex Land Trust as one of her greatest accomplishments with the Corps of Engineers, “It’s great. It’s a triple win: for the Army, for the community, and for the Middlesex Land Trust.”