The North of Highland Camping Area — a popular destination for Cape Cod National Seashore visitors — has been permanently protected, the Trust for Public Land and the National Park Service has announced.
Protection of the campground had been a priority for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. He had led efforts to secure money for the project from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, according to Cape Cod Today.
The 57-acre campground has been family owned and managed since 1954 as an affordable, family-oriented tent camping operation. It has also been the largest remaining inholding within the 43,000-acre Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS). In 2005, when the landowner expressed interest in retiring and selling the property, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, secured an option to purchase the campground property to prevent its sale for residential development.
Property remains in Currier family hands
The Currier family will retain ownership of the property, subject to a conservation easement, allowing future Currier generations to continue to operate the campground. The National Park Service (NPS) will manage the conservation easement ensuring permanent protection of the property’s natural resources.
“Cape Cod National Seashore is a national treasure, and North of Highland Campground is a great way to experience the Seashore and it is a source of local pride,” said Whitney Hatch, TPL’s Massachusetts state director. “TPL is proud to have worked with the Currier family and the Park Service to permanently protect the campground, and we are grateful to the Massachusetts delegation and the town and residents of Truro.”
For the last three years, TPL, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, the Truro Conservation Trust and other groups led a grassroots campaign to support the funding for the purchase price of the conservation easement from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), secured by U.S. Sen. John Kerry, U.S. Representative Bill Delahunt, and Kennedy.
“This would have not have happened without the determined leadership of Sen. Kennedy, who loved Cape Cod and was committed to protect it for the public,” said Hatch.
“This designation is another step to protect the Cape’s natural beauty from development,” said Kerry. “Sen. Kennedy held this project near and dear to his heart and I’m sure he’s smiling down on us today, knowing that another part of the region he loved so much is permanently protected.”
The CCNS, and its 40 miles of coastline, is one of the National Park Service’s most visited destinations, with more than 4 million visitors annually. The North of Highland Camping Area offers 237 tent campsites on 37 acres with direct footpath access to Head of the Meadow Beach and also connects to CCNS hiking and biking trails. The other 20 acres are undisturbed woodland and wetlands. Protecting the campground also preserves rare species habitat and fortifies local drinking water supplies.
“The long-term protection of this large parcel for a combination of camping and conservation purposes made this our highest priority acquisition,” said CCNS Superintendent George Price. “We appreciate the steadfast perseverance and persistence of Mr. Currier, the staff of The Trust for Public Land, Congressman Delahunt, and the late Senator Kennedy in ensuring that this significant easement came to fruition.”
“We are excited that the property will be permanently protected and remain a campground. We have operated the campground for 55 years as a family, and are very pleased this is the way it will stay,” said North of Highlands Camping Area owner Steve Currier. “Many of our customers, some are fourth generation campers, have been concerned something else would happen that would end their camping at North of Highland. This is very exciting news for us all.”
The campground is also located entirely within the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) Biomap Core Habitat, an area important for the conservation of biodiversity. The land has been designated by the State as Estimated Habitat for Rare Species and Priority Habitat of Rare Species by NHESP. The campground property is located within a Massachusetts designated Zone II Wellhead Protection Area and an Interim Wellhead Protection Area, both of which are important for the clean recharge of local drinking water supplies.
With its coastal location and intact forest, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation recognizes the property as a highly scenic landscape, as recorded in its 1999 Scenic Landscape Inventory.