By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The Select Board approved a conservation restriction for Lynn Woods during a recent meeting.
The Lynn Woods Reservation, which was founded in 1881, is the second largest municipal park in the United States. Lynn Woods has 2,200 acres of over 30 miles of scenic trails for hiking, running, horseback riding, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and nature walks.
Essex County Greenbelt Land Conservation Director Vanessa Johnson-Hall said her organization and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have been working to get a conservation restriction for Lynn Woods for over a decade.
“We have been working with the city of Lynn and the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission to ensure that all of Lynn Woods is preserved forever,” said Johnson-Hall. “The intent of the conservation restriction is to ensure that Lynn Woods is forever protected from development, and forever available for drinking water supply and recreational use by the public.”
Planning and Conservation Director Emilie Cademartori agreed.
“This effort by Essex County Greenbelt and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has been in the works for over 10 years,” said Cademartori. “It involves three communities and a lot of title work.”
Johnson-Hall noted in an email sent to the Select Board that the conservation restriction applies to the “majority of the 2,200 acres comprising Lynn Woods.”
“The conservation restriction will be co-held by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Essex County Greenbelt Association,” Johnson-Hall stated.
While Johnson-Hall said during the Select Board’s meeting that most of Lynn Woods is located in the city, she said there are portions of the forest located in both Lynnfield and Saugus.
“In Lynnfield, the land is owned by the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission for watershed protection,” said Johnson-Hall.
Johnson-Hall said the Lynn Woods conservation restriction “allows all current uses to continue.”
“All of the existing recreational uses will continue,” said Johnson-Hall. “All existing water supply uses will continue.”
Johnson-Hall recalled that municipalities have to approve conservation restrictions before they go into effect.
“By signing the conservation restriction, the town of Lynnfield is not becoming a party to that conservation restriction,” said Johnson-Hall. “The Select Board is merely reaffirming that a conservation restriction is happening in your community, and it has public benefits.”
Johnson-Hall said attorneys for the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Division of Conservation Services have reviewed the conservation restriction for Lynn Woods. She also said attorneys for the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission, the city of Lynn and DCR have reviewed the conservation restriction.
“It has already been signed by the city of Lynn and the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission,” said Johnson-Hall. “It was approved by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. We are now seeking signatures from the Lynnfield Select Board to move the process ahead.”
Johnson-Hall noted in the email sent to the Select Board that the Lynn Woods conservation restriction will go into effect once Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper signs it and it is subsequently recorded at the Registry of Deeds.
Select Board Chair Joe Connell commended Essex County Greenbelt and DCR for working to get the Lynn Woods conservation restriction approved. He admired both organizations’ “perseverance” in getting the conservation restriction approved.
“It’s in the public’s benefit,” said Connell.
After the discussion, the Select Board unanimously approved the Lynn Woods conservation restriction.
Johnson-Hall noted in the email that Lynn has joined “other cities across the commonwealth, including Fall River, New Bedford, Worcester and Springfield in permanently protecting their water supply lands with a conservation restriction.”