Address: 315 Setucket Road, Dennis Parking: Parking lot onsite Amenities: Walking trail (Spooky Stroll held there in October), adjacent to Grassy Pond
The trails at the Dorothy Connors Bell Conservation Area follow rolling terrain just above Grassy Pond (town water supply) and neighboring Clay Pond. Songbirds abound and wintergreen covers the forest floor. If you take the path from the parking area to the right (closest to the power lines) it will descend down a small hill and you can see Clay Pond first through the trees, where skaters enjoyed winter games in years gone by, before you come to a bench and kiosk with QR codes to hear recordings of family members and those on town boards who helped conserve this beautiful rolling landscape, and water resources for all to enjoy. Wildflowers and signs of former agricultural land use may also be found. A memorial perennial garden by the circle drive, along a small grove of black cherry trees provides cheerful color in the spring.
In late fall of 2010, DCLT learned of an exciting opportunity to help preserve over 11 acres of land bordering Grassy Pond and Clay Pond, in East Dennis off of Setucket Road. On June 26, 2013 the Town of Dennis, DCLT, Dennis Water District, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts completed this project and realized a major success in community partnership.
Why this land is an important conservation property: This 11-acre property is a spectacular addition to protected lands not only in Dennis, but also on Cape Cod in general. It links to almost 250 acres of open space lands protected by the Town of Dennis, the MA Department of Fish & Game (DFG), and the Dennis Water District (DWD). Preservation of this property helps to preserve a natural, woodland habitat; enhance the adjoining open space lands; protect the quality of the public water supply; preserve important wildlife habitat; protect critical freshwater wetland resources; and expand passive recreation opportunities. Unquestionably, this is an important natural resource area in Town, and it was one of the few remaining unprotected parcels this size remaining in Dennis.
The Path to Success: DCLT acted as the pre-acquisition agent for this property for 2 and 1/2 years on behalf of the Town, to coordinate a funding plan that would result in the protection of this beautiful conservation land in perpetuity. We achieved virtually unanimous Town support at the Nov. 2012 Special Town Meeting for a $300,000 contribution in Community Preservation Act funds. In March of 2013 the Town was awarded a State LAND grant for $400,000 towards the purchase of the property. In April, Dennis rate payers voted unanimously to authorize a $142,500 contribution by the DWD to purchase a Conservation Restriction (CR) on the Town land to help protect Town water supply. DCLT contributed the final $142,500 and co-holds the CR with DWD.
The Town closed on the purchase of the property on June 26, 2013, at which time DCLT and DWD purchased the CR from the Town. In the end, the entire 11.2 acres has been preserved for wildlife habitat and water supply protection, and at the same time is open to the public for the enjoyment of current and future generations. This project marked a major victory in community partnership, and DCLT looks forward to the opportunity to champion more projects like this.