Fort Phoenix Reservation in Fairhaven now contains an adjacent section of woods and five acres of ecologically sensitive salt marsh.

The expansion of the popular state-owned coastal park was made possible with help from the Buzzards Bay Coalition. The land preservation group worked with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation over the course of a decade to acquire the land for the enjoyment of the public, the coalition said in a release.

The expansion includes a stretch of woods between Doane Street and the state reservation. The woods are already crossed by paths and heavily used by local residents as a cut-through to the shore. The woods were previously owned by the utility company Eversource, and could legally have been developed into house lots, the coalition said.

“The woods at Fort Phoenix hold a special place in my heart and it is extremely gratifying to see them permanently protected,” said coalition president Mark Rasmussen. “My third-grade teacher at nearby Rogers School would take us on walks as a class to these woods to explore the vernal pools and trees. It’s one of the many places where I fell in love with nature and the lands surrounding the bay."

Rasmussen said now future generations will have the same opportunity.

“We are grateful to our partners in the Department of Conservation and Recreation for their support and for their patience in seeing this effort through to a successful conclusion,” said Allen Decker, director of land conservation for the coalition.

The purchase will also protect a five-acre salt marsh along the westerly edge of Boy’s Creek. The property is part of one of the largest remaining marshes on Fairhaven’s coast that was privately owned.

The marsh harbors a diverse array of plants and animals that are critical to the health of the bay, and its preservation also enhances the town’s resiliency to sea-level rise, the coalition said.

The Buzzards Bay Coalition works to improve the health of the area's ecosystem through education, conservation, research, and advocacy, its website states.

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