Dover & Westwood, MA, June 13, 2023 – The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), Westwood Land Trust and Dover Land Conservation Trust are embarking on an awareness campaign to inform the public about the opportunity to preserve and protect 1,200 acres owned by Hale Education; it is the largest such conservation effort in the history of Westwood and Dover and the largest in the region for decades. The land trusts are collaborating to increase awareness among residents of both Towns about the critical opportunity to purchase Conservation Restrictions (CRs) on the property, which will keep the land open to the public in perpetuity and further the protection of the character of these communities. Less than five miles from the City of Boston, the 1,200 acres is the largest tract pursued for preservation in the greater Boston region in many decades, harkening back to the great era of parks creation in the early 1900s. A CR is a method to permanently limit the ways privately-owned land can be used, forever.
Informational gatherings for the public will launch on Wednesday, June 21 from 10:30-11:30AM and 6:30-7:30PM at Powisset Farm in Dover and again on Thursday, June 22 from 10:30-11:30AM and 6:30-7:30PM at the Westwood Library Main Branch in Westwood. The informational gatherings are hosted by the three land trusts.
The 1,200 pristine acres being offered for protection by CRs are located almost equally in Dover and Westwood. The land features an extensive 15-mile trail system, four ponds, acres of beautiful beachfront, woodlands and meadows. Currently owned by Hale Education (formerly Hale Reservation), the land is frequented annually by thousands of residents and visitors for passive recreation including walking, birding, hiking, biking, snowshoeing and swimming. Hale Education also hosts community events, camps, school programs and other outdoor education on the property. Despite a decades-long history of being open and accessible to the public, Hale’s land has never been officially or permanently protected from development; it remains at risk of being divided and sold to developers at market rate if the conservation restriction does not receive voter approval.
The three land trusts – The Trustees, Westwood Land Trust and Dover Land Conservation Trust — are working together to help educate residents of Dover and Westwood on the importance of voting to approve funding for two CRs – one per Town — which would permanently prevent residential subdivision of the land and guarantee public access to miles of trails in perpetuity. The Hale land abuts 109-acre Powisset Farm and 595-acre Noanet Woodlands, both owned by The Trustees, as well as conservation land owned or protected by the two Towns and land trusts. In total, close to 3,000 acres of contiguous land will be forever preserved for public access, should the Hale CRs be purchased by the Towns. The land addresses important environmental factors like climate resilience and protecting diverse wildlife habitat.
In a joint statement, Tom French, president of the Dover Land Conservation Trust, Karen Manor Metzold, president of the Westwood Land Trust and Nicie Panetta, acting CEO of The Trustees said, “We are excited to share the importance of these Conservation Restrictions to the residents of Dover and Westwood. By protecting these beloved 1,200 acres, generations to come will benefit from the restorative beauty, passive recreational access and important environmental resources the land provides to all, forever.”
Each CR will cost the respective town $10MM; the 1,200 acres are appraised at a market value of $90MM. For the purchase of CRs to pass, both Dover and Westwood would have to approve by a two thirds majority $10MM each in spending at their respective fall Town Meetings, followed by a separate vote at the ballot box to pass debt exclusions in each community. The Westwood CR will be held by the Town of Westwood and The Trustees; the Dover CR will be held by the Town of Dover and The Trustees. The Trustees, established in 1891, is the nation’s oldest land conservation organization and the largest non-profit holder of CRs in Massachusetts.
For more information on the CRs, and to participate in the effort to protect Hale’s 1,200 acres forever, visit votehale.org.
About The Trustees
Founded by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees has, for more than 130 years, been a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of historic, natural, and cultural value. As the nation’s first and Massachusetts’ largest preservation and conservation nonprofit, Trustees landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. Supported by members, friends and donors, The Trustees’ 126 reservations are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike, welcoming millions of guests annually. thetrustees.org