Westport groups succeed in protecting 25 Noquochoke acres

Posted 11/20/19

WESTPORT — The Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) announces the protection of 25 acres along the upper east branch of the Westport River north of Forge Pond.

The 25-acre Noquochoke Village …

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Westport groups succeed in protecting 25 Noquochoke acres


WESTPORT — The Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) announces the protection of 25 acres along the upper east branch of the Westport River north of Forge Pond.

The 25-acre Noquochoke Village Open Space Parcel is held by the Town of Westport Conservation Commission and subject to a perpetual conservation restriction held by the WLCT.

Conservation of this parcel adds to a corridor of over 80 acres of protected land between Reed Road and Rout 177.

“This project permanently protects 25-acres of important habitat and expands public access to one of our most visited hiking areas: Forge Pond Conservation Area,” said Ross Moran, WLCT executive director. “This is a great example of the town and the land trust working together strategically to improve the quality of life for local residents.”

After the acquisition of the property by Westport’s Affordable Housing Trust with support from the Community Preservation Committee, the land trust and the planning board worked jointly to ensure a portion of the future development would be set aside for conservation. WLCT provided technical and on-the-ground assistance in addressing environmental concerns. This work was completed in 2018 and the 25-acre riverfront landscape is now indistinguishable from any other white-pine forest in Westport.

“The combination of the new Noquochoke Village development and a corridor of publicly accessible conserved land is an example of the town getting it right. The Conservation Commission was thrilled to be a part of the project,” said Chairman Paul Joncas. “The commission works hard to ensure a balance of development and preservation of Westport’s vital natural resources.”

Betty Slade, historian and chairwoman of the Community Preservation Committee, notes the parcel’s historical significance.

“The property was known as the machine lot for the various mills and factories operating along the river. Several famous historical South Coast figures held interest in the surrounding area including William Rotch Jr. and the estate of Paul Cuffe.” Today, the remnants of the old mills and river crossings can still be found on the property.

There is more work ahead to open up the area for future use. WLCT intends to work with the various stakeholders to develop a Forge Pond Conservation Area Master Plan that identifies funding for improved trailhead access and parking. Thirty three acres owned by WLCT on the opposite bank of the Westport River has also been identified for trail access from Forge Pond Conservation Area, but would require an expensive pedestrian bridge.

“WLCT’s partnership with the Westport Conservation Commission has never been stronger. We share a vision for a premier natural area serving hikers, kayakers, and sportsmen,” said Moran. “If our public/private partnership with the town is successful at Forge Pond Conservation Area, we are talking about a 70-plus acre natural area in a densely populated neighborhood of town that is underserved in terms of access to open space. There is more work still to be done, but we are on our way. A special thank you to the many Town officials who worked on this project.”  

Since its founding in 1972, the Westport Land Conservation Trust has assisted landowners in protecting more than 4,500 acres in Westport.

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