By ecoRI News staff
Massachusetts residents of Mattapoisett, Marion and Fairhaven may not be thinking about forests and wetlands when they pour a glass of water from their kitchen tap. However, most of the work to keep their drinking water clean and healthy is done by the natural forests and wetlands of the Mattapoisett River Valley.
To protect that valuable resource, the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC) and the three towns have permanently protected 134 acres of forests and wetlands in the valley. This is in addition to the more than 1,000 acres that has been protected in the valley during the past 15 years.
This current project was the result of a partnership between the BBC, the Mattapoisett River Valley Water Supply Protection Advisory Committee and the three municipalities. While the land is in Mattapoisett, it serves as the drinking water source for all three towns.
The 134 acres includes two clusters: one area along and north of Tinkham Pond and another along the Mattapoisett River. The land was acquired for conservation from Howard Tinkham, who, by his estimate, is the seventh generation of the Tinkham family to own this land.
In addition to protecting drinking-water resources, conserving this land also benefits local wildlife and will provide passive recreation opportunities such as hiking, walking and birdwatching.
Most of the protected land will be owned by the town of Mattapoisett, with the BBC and the towns of Fairhaven and Marion co-holding a conservation restriction to add an additional layer of protection. The BBC will own two small parcels to provide public access for passive recreation.
The project was made possible with funding from the state’s Drinking Water Supply Protection program, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, and from community preservation funds allocated by all three towns.