Up where the Bay’s rivers begin, new Rochester acquisition protects part of vast watershed forest

A 221-acre parcel of forest and wetlands in the northeastern corner of Rochester that sits at the headwaters of the Sippican River is now permanently protected by the Buzzards Bay Coalition, preserving critical habitat for wildlife and for public access.

The property, which is located between Walnut Plain Road and the unimproved Old Middleboro Road, was acquired by the Coalition through an agreement with Seaboard Solar, LLC which has received permits to develop a ground mounted solar facility on 38 adjacent acres. The Rochester Land Trust will holds the permanent conservation restriction on the property.

The site is home to a diverse array of plants and animals, including the Eastern box turtle, which has been designated by the state as a species of special concern. The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) has identified the property as priority habitat for the species. The land is also designated as both core habitat and critical natural landscape on the state’s BioMap 2 which identifies the lands in the state “that are most critical for ensuring the long-term persistence of rare and other native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities and a diversity of ecosystems”.

“This is an important property to protect for the overall health of the Buzzards Bay Watershed,” said Coalition President Mark Rasmussen. “It’s part of a large tract of wild and natural land that filters water flowing to both the Sippican and Weweantic rivers and then to the Bay and provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife. It’s an irreplaceable resource for the health of our region.”

The property occupies a strategic location in several ways. Sitting at the headwaters of one of the Bay’s key tributary rivers, the woods and wetlands filter groundwater that refreshes local aquifers tapped by homeowners’ wells and eventually flows to the Bay. Further, portions of the property are located within the floodplain of the Sippican River and will remain available to slow and absorb flood waters during major storm events.

The property also sits between several existing conservation properties—the 194-acre Connet Wood conservation restriction managed by the state, the 83-acre White Cedar Preserve managed by the Rochester Land Trust, and an abutting 11-acre property already protected by the Coalition. The protection of this parcel connects these existing preserves, ensuring the area can continue to support a diverse array of wildlife and native plant species. It also will retain the scenic rural beauty for which Rochester is known and continue to allow hunting and other outdoor pursuits.

The Buzzards Bay Coalition pursues a Bay-focused land protection strategy, focusing on the most vulnerable forests, streams, and wetlands in the watershed—natural areas that the Bay cannot afford to lose. Since 1998, the Coalition has protected more than 8,500 acres throughout the 18 towns that comprise the Buzzards Bay Watershed, a 432-square-mile area that stretches from Sakonnet Point in Little Compton to Woods Hole in Falmouth and along the Elizabeth Islands chain to Cuttyhunk.

Category: On the Land

Working to Save Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

We work to protect clean water on the Bay and on the land: