South / Southwest Bedford: Davis Road, Upper Concord / Great Road, to South Road
Concord / Great Road, to South Road
Between Davis Road and South Road by the Minuteman Bikeway, west to the Concord River and south to the boundaries with Concord and Lexington lie a wide variety of open space landscapes within both the Concord and Shawsheen River watersheds. South of the East-West Railroad Bed / Bikepath approximately 225 acres of conservation land provide a buffer to L.G. Hanscom Field.
- Pine Grove Farm
- White Cedar Swamp
- Louise K. Brown
- Mongo Brook
- Little Meadow
- Mary Putnam Webber Wildlife Preserve
- Elm Brook
- Hartwell Town Forest
- Hartwell Brook
- George Jordan
Pine Grove Farm & White Cedar Swamp
Several parcels of the Pine Grove Farm gift lie south of Davis Road, along with the second parcel of the White Cedar Swamp conservation area. These lands are primarily wetlands bordering streams tributary to Mongo Brook. One partially upland parcel of the Pine Grove Gift has frontage on Revolutionary Ridge Road, and a small parking area for conservation land visitors has been established there.
Louise K. Brown
This 7.9-acre gift to the Town was acquired in 1978. It is located between Davis and Concord Roads, adjacent to one of the two White Cedar Swamp parcels. Mongo Brook flows through this land from the watershed divide of the Concord River east to Elm Brook and the Shawsheen River, despite its proximity to the Concord River floodplain. The southerly cedar swamp parcel extends to Concord Road; all areas between Davis and Concord Roads area both areas are generally too wet to be easily accessed.
Clark & Little Meadow
The 14.4-acre Clark and 5.92-acre Little Meadow conservation areas were major conservation purchases by the Town in 1986 and 1988. Little Meadow and Clark provide important conservation functions for open space, scenic values, passive recreation and wildlife habitat, representing a reminder of Bedford's agricultural heritage and its associated scenic values. Situated on either side of Davis Road, each is maintained as an open field by annual mowing in late summer to preserve historical and scenic values, as well as actual and potential habitat for grassland birds. Perimeter trails are kept open by walkers and horseback riders. Little Meadow and Clark have cumulative wildlife habitat values because Little Meadow abuts the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and both lie adjacent to a wet meadow, red maple swamp, or floodplain forest. Both fields are used as nesting or migration sites for bobolink, and several avian studies have taken place in the fields. Great Meadows harbors populations of state-listed turtles, which seek out suitable nesting and foraging habitats in these fields and wetlands. Management of the fields consists of annual mowing in late summer to prevent succession by trees and shrubs.
Mary Putnam Webber Wildlife Preserve
This 20-acre parcel was given to the Town in 1990 for the purpose of protecting uplands and sensitive wetlands from proposed development as a state landfill. Although the landfill was not constructed, the Town recognized the importance of this area to the conservation of natural resources and neighborhood character. The land supports both mature oak forest and white pine groves, surrounding a certified vernal pool containing a wood frog habitat. Located adjacent to the east-west railroad bed / bike path, the land is accessible from either Concord or Hartwell Road. Management goals include control of brush dumping and off-road vehicles.
In association with the Webber gift, the Town purchased this adjoining 8-acre parcel in 1990 in order to extend the protected area. Consisting primarily of red maple swamp, the Vanderhoof land abuts Webber and extends to the Massport property at Hanscom Field. A trail extends from Webber through Vanderhoof to the boundary of the Massport lands, where recently Massport has established a regional public trail system to Concord Road in Bedford and Virginia Road in Concord. boundary Excellent potential exists. The trails and sensitive surrounding wetlands need to be protected from damage by off-road vehicles.
The acquisition of Webber and Vanderhoof was followed by the purchase of the Dellovo parcel in 1991. The purchase added 15 acres to the protective buffer between Hanscom Field and the south Bedford neighborhoods. The Dellovo land is located just east of Concord Road on the east-west railroad bed / bike path. A short trail leads from the railroad bed through a poplar grove and red maple swamp to the edge of an open, grassy meadow. Once ditched and maintained in horticulture, the wetlands on the site have since reverted to wet meadow and shrub swamp. Native sedges and wetland grasses intermingle with wetland shrubs, silver maple, wild rose and ferns. This part of Bedford is distinguished by a wide variety of native plant species, documented by a botanical list developed by the conservation area's Land Steward. Worthwhile management activities would include control of shrubs and saplings in order to maintain wet meadow habitat.
The Elm Brook Conservation Area consists of 19.3 acres located between South Road, Washington Street, and Railroad Avenue. The purchase of this area in 1978 included State Self-Help funding. Virtually all of the site is within wetlands or floodplain, and is primarily vegetated with red maple. Trails have been established along Elm Brook and to the east-west railroad bed / bike path. As one of the conservation areas lying closest to the center of Town, the woodlands and trails provide passive recreational opportunities and vegetated buffers for several neighborhoods. Parking is available at the end of Railroad Avenue just south of the Jr. High School athletic fields. Trail development and maintenance include the preservation of vegetation along the bank of the brook and the installation of bog bridges.
Located almost across the road from the Elm Brook Conservation Area, this 2.24-acre parcel was acquired as a gift in 1993 in the course of residential lot development on Otis Street and Highland Avenue. The parcel includes some shrub and sapling areas, a small pond, and a large wet meadow. Access is on Otis Street, a short walk from the Railroad Avenue parking area. Future improvements include the development of a trail to the pond, and a management schedule for the control of shrubs in order to keep the meadow open.
Hartwell Town Forest
Bedford's largest conservation area, located between the Hartwell Road residential neighborhood and Hanscom Field, constituted the first townland to be dedicated to the conservation of natural resources (forest and aquifer protection). The 1940 gift of 118 acres was intended as a living memorial to the Hartwell family, which had owned the tract continuously from the 1666 colonial grant to William Hartwell. Hartwell Town Forest is managed under the provisions of the Massachusetts Town Forest Act as a "public domain" that must be devoted to the culture of forest trees or to the preservation of the municipality's water supply, although the erection of a building for public instruction and recreation may be considered. The 1977 Annual Town Meeting transferred management from the former Town Forest Committee to the Conservation Commission. Its initial use as a managed town forest has evolved to habitat preservation and passive recreation.
Hartwell's many valuable features include its function as a noise and visual buffer between Hanscom Field and densely settled residential areas, the large forested wetland bordering Hartwell Brook, the mature white pines with their great horned owl nesting areas, and excellent level hiking and cross-country ski trails. As a relatively large, contiguous tract of mature forest, Hartwell may be of particular value for neotropical migrant birds, such as the rose-breasted grosbeak, ovenbird, eastern wood-pewee, and scarlet tanager, which have been observed there during the breeding season. These species require large, unbroken tracts of forest to successfully breed. The forest includes two camping and picnic areas, which are used by Scout troops for overnight camping. An extensive trail system extends from Hartwell and South Roads to the Jordan Conservation Area and the Air Force family campground at Hanscom Field. Limited roadside parking is available at the Hartwell Road entrance. Recommended improvements include improved bridges or boardwalks across wetland areas, cross-country ski trail grooming, forestry management, and a nature interpretive trail.
In 2005 the 21-acre Hartwell Brook conservation area was acquired as part of residential development. It contains important wetlands adjacent to Hartwell Town Forest, streams and a shallow marsh. A public access trail easement has been established within this land and some of the lots on Liberty Road.
Located adjacent to Hartwell Town Forest and Massport land off Hartwell Road, the 37.3-acre George Jordan Conservation Area adds considerably to the Town Forest's value as an extension of the buffer to the Hanscom area, as an access point, and as the location of a small parking area. The land was purchased in 1972, with state and federal assistance, to provide a variety of outdoor recreational and agricultural uses and a buffer from Hanscom Field, and to preserve the flood control function of the Hartwell Brook watershed draining to Elm Brook. The area's most visible and appreciated use is its role as a community garden site. The community garden program is presently limited to the smaller two fields; the larger field is no longer used as a garden and has become overgrown. The interior portion of the land consists of a wooded swamp, with several abandoned cranberry bogs providing additional habitat diversity. A trail extends from the gardening area to the Hartwell Forest trail system.
Recent management has accomplished field maintenance, installation of a water supply for gardeners, and gradual removal of interior fencing. Continuing objectives include the establishment of composting areas, control of encroaching shrubs, entrance landscaping and signage, and improvement of the trail system including the area of the cranberry bogs. A recent project by Massport pruned or removed trees obstructing the Runway 23 air space. As compensation for this work, Massport entered into an agreement with the Town, part of which was its commitment to a long-term restriction on Massport lands in Bedford, located south of Webber and Vanderhoof, and the installation of a regional trail system.