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The Conservation Commission is the Town body responsible for protecting Westford's natural resources. It is also responsible for the administration of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and Westford's Wetlands Bylaw.
WESTFORD CONSERVATION COMMISSION MISSION STATEMENT
The Commission’s chief responsibilities are administering the State Wetlands Protection Act and local non-zoning wetlands bylaw, which primarily entails review of projects proposed to take place within 100 feet of wetlands to protect the important benefits and resource values provided by wetlands, and acquiring and managing land for the protection of the natural resources and watersheds of the town. The Commission has over 2,100 acres of town owned land in its care and custody, and is also responsible for overseeing compliance with 67 permanent Conservation Restrictions on over 1,700 acres of land. The Commission also has responsibility for overseeing the management of the facilities at East Boston Camps and the Hill Orchard.
The Commission has a full time staff person, Conservation/Resource Planner William Turner, to assist it in its tasks. If you have any questions regarding the Commission’s work, please call Mr. Turner at 978-692-5524.
The town’s 2010 update of its Open Space and Recreation Plan has been approved by the States Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. This updated plan was developed by the Conservation Commission and Recreation Commission with the assistance of the Community Opportunities Group (which also assisted in the development of the town’s Master Plan). Conservation/Resource Planner William Turner and Director of Parks & Recreation Department, Pat Savage provided technical support. Public forums were held to solicit citizen input for the plan and town boards and commissions participated in review and comment on drafts of the plan during its progress, and the Conservation and Parks and Recreation Commissions are very appreciative of the efforts of all those who participated.
Development of this plan and its updates is an important part of the Conservation Commission’s functions as established under the Conservation Commission Act. (MGL Ch. 40 s. 8C).
Here are some sections from the Plan:
Westford has long valued its natural resources and open spaces, recognizing the fragile nature of these resources without adequate protective measures in place. This conservation legacy has resulted in a community that is blessed with expansive open spaces, quality public drinking water, extensive wildlife habitats, an abundance of passive and active recreational activities, and a serene scenic quality. Despite these efforts, however, large tracts of undeveloped land remain unprotected and vulnerable. Residents recognize the need to continue and expand these conservation efforts to ensure that the resources they value and that ultimately contribute to the town’s quality of life will be protected.
Since the last Plan update “the town has acquired or other wise protected several of its most vulnerable landscapes. Most notable is the purchase of the 287 acre East Boston Camps property. Through this acquisition, Westford was not only able to protect valuable conservation land, natural habitats, and water resources, but will also so be able to create new playing fields on a portion of the site suitable for active recreation.
However, Westford recognizes that growth within its boundaries will continue and that it is imperative that new development be balanced with the need to preserve the town’s valuable open spaces, natural resources and community character. The town also recognizes the importance of providing quality recreational opportunities for all of its citizens. Therefore, this plan identifies goals and an action plan for the town to follow in order to continue preserving its open spaces, natural resources and community character as well as meet the recreational needs of its residents.”
Westford’s 2009 Open Space and Recreation Goals:
Approval of the plan by the state is an important step, as this now qualifies the town to apply for a number of grant programs that can assist it in meeting its goals.
The plan presents background and a framework for planning and decision making regarding the town’s open space and recreation needs. It contains a host of interesting information regarding the Town and its cultural and natural history, and all residents are invited to review it. It is accessible here.