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Location:  0 Tihonet Rd, Wareham MA

  • Owner:  AD Makepeace Cranberry Co.

  • Volume: 7.2 million cubic yards permitted; 871,045 removed between 2016 and 2021. Considered an active site. Bogs are slated to be developed on over 140 acres of pristine pine forest that lies between 30 and 50 feet above the elevation of the nearby water source. 

  • Permit: Yes. Plymouth Zoning Board of Appeals issued an Earth Removal Permit in 2014 based on the A.D. Makepeace misrepresentation that the mining was “necessary and incidental” to the construction of about 200 acres of cranberry bogs and ponds. A challenge to the permit in 2022 by Save the Pine Barrens forced the Town ZBA to admit that the permit had expired, 32 inspection reports were never done, and A.D. Makepeace never put 300 acres into conservation as mitigation for the mining project as required by the permit. The ZBA nevertheless sided with A.D. Makepeace in the appeal. The Plymouth Earth Removal Permit openly admits that the sand and gravel from this site will be used to supply A.D.Makepeace’s  subsidiary Read Custom Soils, LLC located at 46 Federal Road, Carver about ½ mile away on dirt roads through its lands. A.D. Makepeace - Read Custom Soils is known as the largest aggregate mining, sales and distribution operation east of the Mississippi River. The ZBA issued the permit on the grounds that this is an “agricultural” operation. The Town ZBA knew or should have known this was a ruse by A.D. Makepeace. At the 2022 hearings on Save the Pine Barrens’ challenge, the ZBA Chair Michael Main said “I don’t care where the sand goes” displaying willful ignorance of the law and the facts. The Bylaw limits earth removal permits to 2 years, but the ZBA extended the 2014 permit in 2016, 2018 and 2020 with no public hearing. This report identifies 17 mining sites operated by A.D.Makepeace Cranberry and an estimated total volume of  28 million cubic yards of sand and gravel.  Makepeace employs 60 independent truck operators to transport the aggregate materials throughout New England. To move the sand from this site, it travels on “agricultural roads” to Read as well as directly on to the highways. 

  • Area Impacted: 18 to date; 200 acres planned. From about 2008 to 2012 93 acres north of the site were mined extensively under the claim of “squaring off” “old style” cranberry bogs. The volume removed is unknown.  MassDEP was asked to investigate this operation due to dumping of what is reported to be sewage sludge and other debris which is shown on satellite images. MassDEP has failed to act. The operation altered the Wankinko River. This entire 300+ acre area is within the 6,500 acre Tihonet Mixed Use Development Area (TMUD) designated under Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act MEPA Certificate 13940.  MEPA never required a disclosure of the impacts of mining the 300+ acres and allowed A.D. Makepeace to claim it is all cranberry agriculture. 

  • Claimed Reason for Mining: Leveling hills and mining in the aquifer for construction of cranberry bogs, ponds and a “bypass canal.”

  • Solar: Unknown

  • Water Supply: Close to several Zone II areas for drinking water wells.

  • Plymouth Carver Sole Source Aquifer: Yes, over the aquifer. The operation has mined into the groundwater and was conducting dewatering operations with a portable pump and propane tank as shown on 2021 MassMapper GIS, below. Other components of the project will mine in the aquifer under the pretense of excavating for “tailwater ponds” for cranberry bogs. 

  • Wetlands and Waterways: Yes. Flood Zone, Riverfront Area, Perennial Stream.  A.D. Makepeace and Beals & Thomas consulting represented to MEPA in 2012 that the project would obtain Conservation Commission permits from Plymouth for portions of the work and claimed other work was exempt. In 2012, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan went along with the pretense of “agriculture” and issued a MEPA Certificate stating there would be no Damage to the Environment from this mining operation. In 2023, MEPA agreed and signed off on the “Final EIR” for the Tihonet Mixed Use Development. The work started and no permits were obtained. Save the Pine Barrens has challenged these claims and an adjudicatory hearing is pending before MassDEP Office of Dispute Resolution. MassDEP is siding with A.D. Makepeace claiming that the mining operation is actually a “farm” and that the work is exempt from the Wetlands Protection Act. A hearing is scheduled for December, 2023.

  • Archaeological Impacts: Yes. The Massachusetts Historical Commission classified the entire area as archaeologically significant. MEPA and MHC allowed AD Makepeace to side step full MEPA review and issued a sign off to the Damage to the Environment in 2023.  STPB Comments to MEPA May 23, 2022, MEPA Certificate 13940: “The significance of the entire TMUD Project was explicitly acknowledged by Massachusetts Historical Commission as recently as 2020: “The archeological reconnaissance survey conducted in 2007 for the overall ADM project indicates that the project impact area is archaeologically sensitive.”  There has been no disclosure by MHC, MEPA or A.D. Makepeace of the impacts of the mining on this well-known archaeologically significant area.

  • Environmental Justice Population: Remote area. 

  • Ecosystem: The entire site that will be destroyed is some of the most important habitat and ecologically significant on the planet. It is in the heart of the globally rare Pine Barrens, one of three remaining on Earth. It is designated by Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) Priority Habitat 507 and Priority Habitat 601: Core Habitat Species of Conservation Concern, BioMap2 Core Habitat, Critical Natural Landscape, Core Habitat, Core Habitat Priority Natural Communities, Core Habitat Species of Conservation Concern, Critical Natural Landscape Landscape Blocks, Habitat Forest Core. Despite this, the Mass. Department of Fish and Game, NHESP granted Makepeace a “take” permit for this mining operation. A blog explaining this is here.

  • Public Subsidies:

  • A.D. Makepeace receives large agricultural subsidies from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture for “cranberry farming”. The company also benefits from the technical assistance provided to “cranberry growers'' by the UMass Cranberry Extension Service, a taxpayer funded program to help the cranberry industry. In April 2023, the Extension Service broke ground on an $8 million expansion of the Cranberry Station in East Wareham. A.D. Makpeace’s CEO and President and Board Chair were in attendance.

  • A.D. Makepeace keeps most of its land in “Chapter 61” which allows landowners to pay much lower real estate taxes if they do not develop their land. Mining operators such as A.D. Makepeace keep the land in Chapter 61 even when conducting commercial mining.  Cranberry companies also claim tax incentives for “revitalization” of bogs under state law. More research is needed to determine whether the company obtain grants to “revitalize” the bogs on the northern portion of this site.

  • Blog Link

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