Conservationists have announced the completion of a major land preservation project on Cuttyhunk Island, ensuring public access for generations to come.

The Buzzards Bay Coalition and its partners, including the Town of Gosnold, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bouchard 120 Oil Spill Natural Resources Damages Trustee Council and 198 private donors, just wrapped up a $6.1 million acquisition of 68 acres, much of which was vulnerable to development.

The acquisition adds to the donation of a conservation restriction on a separate 250 acres on the island’s western end, the Buzzards Bay Coalition said in a media release. Together, the two projects protect more than 300 acres and five miles of coastline, representing nearly all of the island’s remaining large developable land.

The 68-acre property celebrated this week was purchased from the descendants of a prominent turn-of-the-century industrialist who had a major presence on the island. “As stewards of much of the undeveloped land on Cuttyhunk, and following in the tradition of our great-grandfather, William Wood, who established our family’s foothold on Cuttyhunk, we are proud to participate in this preservation plan of our beloved island,” commented Van Spaulding on behalf of his family.

The land includes Barges Beach, the scenic Lookout and Bayberry Hills, and Church’s Beach. The properties will be managed to ensure public access.

This week's announcement was lauded by politicians and officials, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, Sen. Julian Cyr of Truro, Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues of Westport, and Rep. Dylan Fernandes of the Cape and Islands.

“I want to commend the Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Town of Gosnold on this great accomplishment to protect more than 300 acres of land on Cuttyhunk—more than one half of the island,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The Baker-Polito Administration was proud to support this project, which will ensure that Massachusetts residents will be able to enjoy this unrivaled landscape for years to come, protect the island’s drinking water supply and provide coastal habitats threatened by sea-level rise room to prosper into the future.”

Earlier this year, the Baker administration awarded $1.4 million for the project through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Action grant program, which aims to strengthen local resilience in the face of climate change and rising sea levels.

In the spring of 2019, Gosnold Town Meeting unanimously approved  $400,000 for the campaign. Around $1.4 million in private donations came from 198 Cuttyhunk residents and people who cherish the island. The project was awarded a $400,000 state LAND grant, a $300,000 state grant to guard public drinking water, and a municipal mini-grant from the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program. Two large federal grants — $1 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program and $1.15 million from the Bouchard 120 Oil Spill Trustee Council — focused on preserving the island’s unique habitats and wildlife. The Bouchard oil spill in 2003 coated the island's shores, and a settlement provided funding for ongoing conservation work.

"This preservation of pristine coastal habitat will ensure our community can continue to swim, fish, and enjoy this beautiful island while also protecting an environment devastated by that negligent spill so many years ago," said Sen. Mark Montigny of New Bedford, who at the time chaired the Buzzards Bay Oil Spill Commission.

The Buzzards Bay Coalition will manage and care for the lands. Trails will be improved over the winter with an expected formal opening next spring. To learn more about the Buzzards Bay Coalition, visit www.savebuzzardsbay.org.

In addition to providing peaceful refuge for the public, the protected land will preserve water quality and protect a unique maritime island ecosystem, the coalition said.

Cuttyhunk can be reached from New Bedford via ferry and makes for a nice day trip.

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