Conservation Lands

Map View of Conservation Lands

Falmouth Has a History of Preserving Land

Falmouth has been fortunate to have benefactors who saw the value of preserving land for the community as far back as 1894. That was the year Joseph Story Fay gave Goodwill Park to the people of Falmouth. In 1958, the state bought 1,400 acres off Route 151 from the Crane family to preserve wildlife habitat for hunters. Josiah K. Lilly III gave 382 acres of the Beebe Estate to Falmouth in 1972. Ten years later, the state purchased Washburn Island for a state park.

TheTown has long acquired land, by taking, purchase or gift, primarily with recreation in mind—for beaches, parks, and access to ponds. An exception was the need to protect the Town’s principal source of drinking water, Long Pond.

Preserving natural resources became a community goal in the 1960s and 70s, forged by residents’ concern with the pace of development and the national environmental movement. The Town’s first major acquisition of conservation land occurred after the town adopted bylaws to protect wetlands. In 1971, the town acquired 113 acres of cranberry bogs and upland along the Coonamessett River.

With The 300 Committee, the Town not only had an agent to help identify parcels and negotiate with owners, it had an organization committed to making the public aware of the need to save open space. Since its formation in 1985, T3C has helped Falmouth preserve more than 2,300 acres. The land trust also owns numerous small parcels comprising a total of more than 150 acres.

Another player in the effort to save open space is the Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries, Inc., a private land trust established in 1961. Salt Pond owns about 222 acres, including 40 acres around Salt Pond and historic Bourne Farm in West Falmouth.

Several hundred acres of private property are protected by conservation restrictions, which prohibit development to protect a natural resource. Most are small parcels, except for two significant properties: the Cape Cod Beagle Club’s 150 acres and the Falmouth Rod and Gun Club’s 102 acres in East Falmouth.

Stewardship

Having assumed a key role in preserving land in Falmouth, The 300 Committee believes it should also help the town take care of conservation land.

The 300 Committee established a volunteer stewardship program in 1989. More than 60 stewards have adopted town and 300 Committee parcels, serving as caretakers for nearly 2,000 acres. The stewards monitor the land regularly, keep trails cleared and clean up debris. After many years of maintaining an all-volunteer work force, T3C created a staff position dedicated to land management and stewardship in 2012. Primary responsibilities of the Stewardship Coordinator include planning and executing land maintenance projects on conservation parcels and coordinating the volunteers to help accomplish those. The Srewardship Coordinator also spends time conducting parcel monitoring and follow up, developing inventories of flora and fauna, creating land management plans and numerous other projects. When serious problems occur, such as encroachment from abutting property owners or piles of brush or trash dumped, the land trust works with Town departments, notably Conservation, Marine and Environmental Services, and Public Works to resolve these issues.

The Town of Falmouth and The 300 Committee signed a memorandum of understanding in March 2005 that outlines the role of stewards on town land. In addition, T3C's Stewardship Manual helps guide the work of the land stewards.