Category Archives: Western Mass Electric Company

Making progress on several fronts

Charlie Wyman, Senior Land Protection Specialist

We’ve made good progress lately on several projects reported on in recent months:

Western Mass Electric Company.  On Monday evening the Agawam City Council voted unanimously to approve these two conservation restrictions, totaling 65 acres at two sites, following Conservation Commission approval in late March. Western Mass. Electric is working to wrap up a few final permitting issues with the Corps of Engineers and the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, with hopes of completing the process and conveying the conservation restrictions this summer and initiating construction in the fall. Our crew heads out next Wednesday to gather baseline documentation (pictures, GPS locations of boundary points, etc.) that will help our stewardship staff monitor the property going forward.

Almy Property.  This 5.7-acre conservation restriction nestled against Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Dartmouth and other protected land will be placed on record any day now. The CR has been approved by the Dartmouth Select Board and by the state’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and is awaiting the blessing of the Dartmouth Planning Board as part of the Board’s approval of the family’s 3-lot Open Space Residential Design subdivision.

Valencia Property.  The gift of this 2/3-acre bit of wetland surrounded on three sides by our Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester is a couple of steps closer to completion. Earlier this month I walked the property with Deb Cary and Martha Gach from the sanctuary staff as part of our routine evaluation of any contamination risk from oil or hazardous waste. The property passed with flying colors and we had a nice conversation with one of our prospective neighbors to boot.  A draft purchase-and-sale agreement is circulating.

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Above: Mass Audubon staff Deb Cary and Martha Gach on the proposed Valencia gift.

 

Turtles and Transmission Lines

Charlie Wyman, Senior Land Protection Specialist

Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) has proposed upgrades to their transmission lines running from Connecticut through Agawam and Chicopee to Ludlow.  Work associated with the upgrade will result in some impacts on wetlands and rare species habitat along the route, requiring that the company obtain permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mass. Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.  Those two agencies, seeking to mitigate the impacts that cannot be avoided altogether, are requiring WMECO to permanently protect wetlands and rare species habitat in two locations in the town of Agawam just west of Springfield.

Why are we telling you this?  WMECO has asked Mass Audubon to hold the conservation restrictions that will permanently protect these areas, a total of about 65 acres.  The properties are highly deserving of protection, with multiple designations related to ecological value and rare species.

We have had several bargaining sessions, hammering out language that will ensure meaningful protection for the land while allowing WMECO to use it for electrical transmission.  We are closing in on our goal, and if all goes well, the conservation restrictions will go to record sometime this spring.

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