The Nantucket Land Bank on Thursday acquired 20 acres in the Smooth Hummocks Coastal Preserve from the Nantucket Conservation Foundation (NCF) for $3 million, a transaction that adds to its holdings in the preserve, and provides the NCF with the funds necessary to complete a separate acquisition of eight acres of land in the Shawkemo Hills area along Nantucket Harbor.
The deal between the two conservation organizations was announced back in December 2021, but the transfer to the Land Bank closed on Thursday. It also includes a small 4,000 square foot parcel in Consue Springs that the NCF will transfer to the Land Bank, which already owns the surrounding property.
The collaboration was truly about protecting the undeveloped eight-acre Shawkemo property that the NCF had acquired from David Rosenzweig for $7.5 million last year, connecting several other properties that were already protected from development.
"That could only have been done with the support of the Land Bank," said NCF executive director Cormac Collier. "We're utilizing the proceeds of this sale to pay off a mortgage the Nantucket Conservation Foundation has with David Rosenzweig. We purchased it for $7.5 million, but only had raised $4.5 million at the time.
"The Rosenzweig properties were the major donut hole in the conservation map in the Shawkemo area, which is upgrade from Shimmo Bend and Shimmo Bay," he added. "Protecting it will have beneficial effects on downgradient water quality."
For the Land Bank, the deal allows the Shawkemo property to be protected while also solidifying its holdings in the Smooth Hummocks Coastal Preserve, which former Land Bank executive director Eric Savetsky called the organization's "crown jewel." It is one of the Land Bank’s largest contiguous property holdings and constitutes a significant percentage of the world’s sandplain grassland and coastal heathland habitats.
The two organizations have a long history of working together in mutual interest, said Jesse Bell, the Land Bank's current executive director.
"It makes more sense for us to own this parcel (in Smooth Hummocks) and for them to own the parcels in Shawkemo," Bell said. "This definitely furthers conservation on the island generally. The property the Foundation acquired goes a long way in protecting the harbor watershed, and Smooth Hummocks is one of our signature properties - it's like our middle moors - and this was a missing piece for us. We can now apply a cohesive management strategy to that whole area. It makes sense on a number of levels."
Both Bell and Collier said the the transactions were slightly confusing because they did not all happen at the same time, but the closing on Thursday of the Land Bank's acquisition in Smooth Hummocks represented another step toward permanently protecting the Shawkemo land.