Trying something new, the Brewster Conservation Trust (BCT) is actively seeking parcels of land to buy for open space preservation. The effort involves asking Brewster landowners to respond to BCT by June 30th with land that BCT will evaluate for its environmental significance, pricing and schedule. BCT will then negotiate purchase of the best candidate parcels with willing sellers.
“We have typically relied upon conservation-minded owners for donations of land and conservation restrictions in the past,” said Hal Minis, BCT President, “We hope this program will spark interest from all landowners who may have vacant parcels to work with us. While we do not have unlimited funds, we do have new working capital to put towards land purchases this year.”
“We hope to become more active in encouraging landowners to think of us when they need to plan for their land’s fate. We cannot buy every vacant lot in town, nor would we want to, but we can find a way to preserve conservation-worthy parcels in a way that provides for the financial needs of owners,” said Minis. He noted that in the past six years (2010-2015), BCT had purchased 22 parcels for a total of $3.3 million.
BCT consultant Jeff Thibodeau said, “BCT has a strong track record of leveraging its own dollars with significant subsidies in the form of Town community preservation funds, State grants and private foundation gifts. We also have a proven track record in raising money through public fund drives for land purchases. Finally, we can secure state and federal tax benefits for landowners who give or sell land to us.”
Preserving open space protects the land base that supports the rich natural resources within Brewster. “Brewster has spent millions of dollars to protect land around our wellfields,” said Minis, “But our Town Water Department has won regional awards for the quality of our drinking water and these facts are connected. Undeveloped forestland protects clean water. Our scenic views, our wildlife habitat, our walking trails—all rely upon protected open space to remain vital.”
On or before June 30, interested landowners should email Thibodeau at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 508-694-6720 with information about their parcel. The land can be a stand-alone lot or a portion of an improved (built-on) parcel. BCT will consider buying lots with small homes on them, if demolition can create good conservation land. Land abutting ponds or other protected open space is preferred. Unbuildable land (owing to wetlands, lack of frontage or other development constraints) will also be considered. No size minimum. All conversations will be held in confidence.