Middleboro: Town upset over NSTAR’s clearing of box turtle habitat

NSTAR’s easement for transmission lines in Middleboro dates to the 1960′s, but trees have been allowed to grow at least 25-feet deep on both sides and landowners have come to rely on the buffer zone.

But now NSTAR is dropping the trees and clear cutting the entire easement in an effort to reduce outages. As the trees are cleared, so is the habitat for at least 40 eastern box turtles that have been found living along the lines.

The state said NSTAR was not destroying habitat, just altering it, and in exchange donated $136,080 to the Eastern Box Turtle Mitigation Bank.

Selectman Stephen McKinnon rejected the state’s response.

When the Conservation Commission found themselves powerless to stop NSTAR from destroying turtle habitat, Selectman McKinnon and Leilani Dalpe stepped in and offered to help.

McKinnon agreed to ask his board to seek a cease and desist order at their next meeting.

Landowners are taking a different tack from officials and consulted with Boston Attorney Marc Redlich to file a class action lawsuit against the utility.

Redlich was optimistic they could stop NSTAR.

The landowners, Citizens Against NSTAR, will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Middleboro Library to weigh their options.  The meeting is open to the public.

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About Alice Elwell

Alice Elwell is a freelance reporter who lives on the South Shore. She joined the WATD team to widen our coverage to include Middleboro. She can be reached at acelwell2@gmail.com.