Statement on Cumberland Farms property
Michael P. O'Connor
Over the past several weeks, Mass Audubon has received a number of requests from members and stakeholder groups to play an active role in protecting the 1,500-plus-acre Cumberland Farms property in Middleboro and Halifax.
Mass Audubon designated the Cumberland Farms land as an Important Bird Area (IBA) due to its large concentrations of a variety of bird species, including migrant shorebirds and waterfowl, wintering raptors, and some grassland breeding birds. The area contains at least six state-listed species, and six species of high conservation priority, including; American Kestrel, Northern Bobwhite, American Woodcock, Alder Flycatcher, Bobolink, and Eastern Meadowlark.
Over the years, Mass Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlands Trust, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made numerous attempts at protecting the land, most recently in 2011 when our market-rate offer was flatly declined by the landowners.
When we became aware that the Cumberland Farms property was scheduled to go to auction, we quickly engaged in due diligence with our partners—Wildlands Trust, Manomet, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife.
After many meetings and discussions recently with stakeholders, we are exploring all options to protect the property again. As deliberations continue and as the auction nears, we hope to find a viable path to saving this IBA.
Mass Audubon protects more than 38,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts' largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state's natural treasures for wildlife and for all people's vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women.
Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 135,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today's and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at www.massaudubon.org.