By Aimee Chiavaroli firstname.lastname@example.org
ACUSHNET — Buzzards Bay Coalition partnered with the P.J. Keating Co. to permanently protect 21 acres, dubbed P.J. Keating Woods, along South Main Street in Acushnet.
“They had a lot of other options for what they might have done with this land,” said Mark Rasmussen, president of the Buzzards Bay Coalition. “I really credit the leadership at P.J. Keating for being that good of a community partner here.”
Rasmussen said it was a long time coming. The coalition reached out to the Lunenburg-based company with a quarry and asphalt plant on South Main Street about the partnership because it owned one of the larger blocks of forested land along the Acushnet River, according to Rasmussen. P.J. Keating Co. is a leading manufacturer of construction earth products and installer of hot mix asphalt.
“The P.J. Keating Co. is deeply invested in the Acushnet community, and this collaboration has allowed us to give back in a way that benefits the river and the environment,” said company President Jonathan Olson, in a statement. “We’re proud to do our part to save Buzzards Bay by partnering with the coalition.”
The New Bedford Harbor Trustee Council funded the $25,000 purchase and associated transaction costs of the 21 acres, according to a news release. The council oversees the restoration of natural resources that have been affected by PCB contamination in the New Bedford Harbor.
The 21-acre property called P.J. Keating Woods has mixed upland forest and wooded wetlands with a view of the Acushnet River. Over the next few years, the coalition is set to develop trails at the property for public use.
Rasmussen said the coalition wants to open the property to the public when it develops a continuous trail system. The coalition is looking to acquire more land in the area to expand trails, with P.J. Keating Woods serving as an entrance to the overall reserve.
“This will be one of the front doors to the Acushnet River,” the coalition’s president noted. Preserving the riverfront land also helps to protect and restore the health of the river and its wildlife habitats..
P.J. Keating Woods is a significant addition to the Coalition’s Acushnet River Reserve, according to a news release, which is a growing network of conservation land along the river including LaPalme Farm on Blain Street and The Sawmill on Mill Road.
In March, according to a report from the coalition, in partnership with Mattapoisett, Fairhaven, Marion and Rochester, it permanently protected 1,468 acres of forests and wetlands in the Mattapoisett River Valley between 2001 and 2016, an average of 98 acres per year, to protect local public drinking water supplies and prevent new sources of pollution to Buzzards Bay. Of the total 1,468 acres, 35 acres or two percent, are located in Acushnet.