How OCT Protects Land

The Trust acquires land for conservation in a variety of ways. Generous, preservation-minded landowners make gifts of land (owned by OCT and conserved in perpetuity), establish Conservation Restrictions on their land, or arrange to sell land to OCT.

But as land becomes more valuable, setting aside new land for open space becomes ever more challenging. Sometimes it takes a village — or at least a neighborhood — to help the Trust raise enough funds to purchase a piece of land that’s special to people who live nearby, or to the entire community. A property may protect treasured views or water quality or rural character; it may offer the potential for a wildlife corridor or a peaceful trail.

OCT has nearly a half-century of experience in protecting land in Orleans, and a track record of bringing people together to make it happen. Providing our expertise, leveraging grant opportunities, and working with committed residents who help organize neighbors and step forward with contributions, OCT has successfully completed land acquisitions that at first seemed dauntingly difficult. Such projects help build community and offer immense satisfaction to those who had a hand in permanently protecting treasured places in their own backyard.

Current Land Acquisition Campaigns

Scenic View Lots at 109 Portanimicut Road

As OCT continues to expand our protected acreage in still-rural South Orleans, our next target is a beautiful property bordering a critical saltmarsh, named Deacon Rogers' Meadow, and tidal creek flowing into Pleasant Bay, with lovely views over the water to Hog Island, Sampson Island, and the barrier beach beyond.

Preserving the two lots at 109 Portanimicut Road for conservation, open space, and public enjoyment is a top priority for OCT. It will add nearly two acres of marshfront property to our network of conserved lands around the Portanimicut neighborhood, to the great benefit of people and wildlife. The property nearly adjoins more than 20 acres that neighbor Rachia Heyelman will leave to OCT in her estate.

Even though most of the land falls within falls within an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the lots are developable because two rundown cottages and a garage on the site are “grandfathered in.” If the acquisition succeeds, OCT will remove these structures and restore this sensitive area to its natural state. Protecting the land will reduce pressure on the Pleasant Bay system by creating a buffer for the saltmarsh against road runoff and risk of contamination generated by residential development. It will also preclude redevelopment with its associated septic load, traffic, and other activity.

The land’s assessed value is in excess of $1.5 million, but OCT has a time-limited opportunity to purchase both lots for $760,000. To date we have raised nearly $500,000, and there's a dollar for dollar match available through September 30, 2020 and up to $120,000! The Trust has pledged $100,000 of its own funds towards this project and our total fundraising target is $800,000.

From the edge of the marsh, you can look eastward over Little Pleasant Bay onto a view much as it was a century ago. We have a rare chance to preserve this combination of scenic beauty, water quality, and a healthy saltmarsh ecosystem, and we hope you’ll join our campaign!

Contributions can be made online here, or by check made out to Orleans Conservation Trust and mailed to 203 South Orleans Rd, Orleans, MA 02653. Either way, please specify that the funds are for the “109 Portanimicut Purchase.” Thank you for your support!

To get involved or contribute to this campaign, contact OCT Director Steve O’Grady at (508) 255-0183 or

66 Portanimicut Road: Building a Greenbelt

OCT is working with South Orleans residents to purchase and preserve nearly five acres at 66 Portanimicut Road (see the map above). The three lots up for sale (totaling 4.65 acres) could forge a vital link between existing conservation lands both south and north of the road. Such linkages are a kind of holy grail for land conservation because they provide protected corridors for wildlife—increasingly rare in developed areas like Cape Cod.

In addition to creating a preserve of nearly 80 contiguous acres, acquiring these lots would enable OCT to provide parking for easier access to the Town’s so-called Christian Property, where a peaceful trail skirts an Atlantic white cedar swamp.  Moreover, the land offers future access to another 20 acres, a promised gift to the Trust by Rachia Heyelman—and the potential for a trail extending all the way to Paw Wah Pond. If we don’t acquire the property, development of the three lots would add to the area’s septic load and erode its rural character.

We were able to negotiate a purchase agreement for the three lots at Number 66 when a sale for development fell through. But we couldn’t obtain an extended closing—so we only have until January 21, 2020 to raise funds before the closing. And at a negotiated price of $775,000, it’s one of the costliest purchases in OCT’s history. Importantly, OCT is obligated to close on this purchase even if our fundraising falls short.

OCT will contribute to the purchase but must rely on private donors for most of the needed funding. If the fundraising effort falls short by the deadline, OCT will need to consider options such as reselling one of the lots in order to reduce its investment.

Year-end update! As of December 20, 2019, OCT has raised $600,000 from more than 115 donors and closed on one of the three lots. But we still need to raise $250,000 to ensure that all three lots are preserved as open space. We need your support in order to make this vision a reality! This is a spectacular opportunity for Orleans. Contributions can be made online here, or by check made out to Orleans Conservation Trust and mailed to 203 South Orleans Rd, Orleans, MA 02653. Either way, please specify that the funds are for the “66 Portanimicut Purchase.” Thank you for your support!

To get involved or contribute to this campaign, contact OCT Director Steve O’Grady at (508) 255-0183 or

109 Portanimicut Road
By the Numbers

Acres to be conserved:  1.84
Buildable lots:  2
Assessed value:  $1.5M
Total fundraising goal:  $760,000 plus $65,000 associated costs
Habitat:  Old field habitat with red cedars and maples, sloping down to a salt marsh 
Fundraising deadline:  September 30, 2020

“Five generations of my family have enjoyed this treasure in South Orleans. It’s one of the most unique properties in the area, historically and for its natural beauty, wildlife activity, and location on the marsh extending to Little Pleasant Bay. I hope others will join us in supporting this wonderful purchase.”

— Bob Parry, 109 Portanimicut neighbor

66 Portanimicut Road
By the Numbers

Acres to be conserved:  4.65, includes .54 acres of wetland
Buildable lots:  3; 2 undeveloped and 1 with a dwelling to be demolished.
Appraised value:  $1.02M
Purchase price negotiated:  $775,000 plus about $50,000 for demolition/restoration
Habitat:  Pine/oak woodland; one lot with a wetland that may be a vernal pool. 
Contiguous conserved acres if these parcels preserved:  Nearly 100 
Fundraising deadline:  January 1, 2020

“I’m always amazed by how much wildlife we see from our own yard, and I know it’s because we have so much open land near us. There’s even a wild honeybee hive. It’s just a very special place, and I’d feel remiss if we didn’t do everything we can to keep it that way.” 

— Kris Nasinnyk, 66 Portanimicut neighbor