The Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust is currently facilitating the Urban Land Protection Council, which is partially funded by the The Jessie B. Cox Charitable Lead Trust to develop and enhance the collaborative efforts of the urban land protection community.
2008-2010 Participants in the Urban Land Protection Council (ULPC) include the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, the Greater Worcester Land Trust, Groundwork Lawrence, and the Waltham Land Trust. The Trustees of Reservations’ Putnam Conservation Institute is an active participant in the Council as well, providing significant in-kind support.
The Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust has been actively protecting urban open space since our founding in 1990. One of our earlier projects was to protect the Edwards Street Soccer Fields (link). By the mid to late 1990’s our land protection portfolio included small pocket parks (Jollene Dubner Park), the historic Spalding House, and small undevelopable parcels, such as our Totman Street or Nicole Drive properties. Most recently, we acquired our first conservation restriction in partnership with The Trustees of Reservations to protect the last five acres of the historic Hawk Valley Farm.
Since 2004, LP&CT has been active in coordinating statewide urban land conservation gatherings. These have taken the form of both state-wide conferences and smaller forums. In 2004, the first conference was held here in Lowell, “Land Conservation on a Neighborhood Scale.” This was followed in 2005, by a more intimate gathering of urban conservation professionals at Boston University. In 2007, the Urban Land Protection Forum2 was held in Lawrence. In 2009, a fourth forum was held in Leominster, featuring Fitchburg’s Mayor Lisa Wong, and attracting attendees from several states in New England. We are currently planning our fifth gathering for Spring 2011.
The Urban Land protection Council has been a natural outgrowth of the early forums. The ULPC members work together to document successes, provide outreach to communities in Massachusetts and throughout New England. The first year (2008-2009) featured field trips to our respective communities, followed-by the publication of case studies (Lowell, Lawrence, Waltham, Worcester [not done]). In addition, Jane Calvin, LP&CT Executive Director, was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Androscoggin Land Trust’s Annual Meeting (Feb. 2009) and Heather McMann of Groundwork Lawrence was invited to be the keynote speaker at Fall River's Healthy City Spring Workshop (April 2010), thus extending our outreach. This year the Council has provided technical support to Chelsea, toured Providence, RI with the Southside Community Land Trust, spent a day sharing our expertise in Fall River with municipal officials and local conservation leaders, toured projects in Hartford and Manchester, CT, and will be offering a land protection seminar at the National Land Conservation Conference (Rally) in Hartford, CT this October.