NATURE by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
Glancing at a map of the North River as it flows through Marshfield, one sees a lot of green. The riverbank is now a nearly contiguous stretch of conservation land. There’s the 225-acre North River Sanctuary, the Mass Audubon headquarters on Route 3A, near the river mouth, and then a little farther upstream, the even-larger expanse of the interlocking Nelson Memorial Forest, Phillips Farm and Union Street Woodland. Then across the street, heading south, Corn Hill Woodland, the John Little Conservation Area, Couch Beach, Mounce’s Meadow, and Blueberry Island. And then finally, nearing the Pembroke line, two more properties: Two Mile Farm and the Jose Carreiro Woodland. If not for decades of efforts by Marshfield’s Community Preservation Committee, its Conservation Commission, various environmental groups, and forward-thinking voters, these lands could have been covered with houses instead of trees.
If you’re in the mood for a walk in the woods, the combined 79-acre Jose Carreiro Woodland and Two Mile Farm are worthy of your consideration. You can download a map of the two properties from the Town of Marshfield’s website at https://www.marshfield-ma.gov/sites/marshfieldma/files/uploads/jose_carreiro.pdf
You can begin your walk on either property, but I recommend the Carreiro, simply because of the terrain (this way, you’ll end on a downhill). From Union Street in Marshfield, follow Maryland Street all the way to the end, and park in the cul de sac. Facing away from the highway, you’ll see the trailhead on your left.
Once you enter the property, you’ll find that there are a number of trail options. An easy-to-remember route is to just keep taking lefts. This will lead you first along Route 3, but soon enough you’ll arrive at a hill that looks out onto the North River and its marshes. A bench at this spot honors Jose Carreiro, who served as Chair of the town’s Community Preservation Committee and was actively involved in protecting this small but beautiful parcel from development.
The town’s acquisition of the Jose Carreiro Woodland in 2009 marked the successful end to a protracted battle. In the early 2000s, after its longtime owner passed away, the property was slated for development as the 18-unit “North River Village.” Many local citizens viewed this as a travesty. Walking trails with gorgeous views had existed there for years, as well as cart paths that dated back centuries. Plus there was the environmentally sensitive nature of the area, including a large vernal pool and the presence of endangered species, as well as some archaeological ruins. Plans for development prevailed until the recession hit. Thanks to a significant drop in market value, the Community Preservation Committee was able to purchase the 11-acre property for $850,000.
Eleven acres isn’t much, but when combined with the larger, and equally beautiful Two Mile Farm, it’s a treasure. Continuing with the “just take lefts” exploration of the Carreiro Woodland will lead you through the forest, along the marsh, to the southern entrance to Two Mile Farm. The Trustees (formerly Trustees of Reservations) acquired this 68-acre property in 1995. Continue taking lefts and you’ll be treated to additional views of the river and marsh.
Eventually, you’ll begin to head uphill into the woods. Pay careful attention to property boundaries here (they are well marked). You can continue uphill on a well-developed trail all the way to the property’s northern entrance on Union Street. Or if you’d prefer a shorter, less steep hike, take a shortcut (on the right) down the cart path and back into the Carrerio. If you choose the first option, you’ll see a number of old stone walls along your way. When you get finally to the top of the hill (it’s a long, slow climb) take some time at the kiosk to read about the property’s history. The return trip to the Carreiro is mostly downhill from there, through some beautiful pine, oak and beech forest.
The woods in this part of town seem so quiet now. But it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine how different the landscape was 150 years ago. Back then, the once-bustling North River shipbuilding industry was already drawing to a close. The lands that bordered the river had been cleared completely, to make room for agriculture. The trees had all been chopped down and hauled away to local sawmills. But now the trees have grown back, and if we’re fortunate – and if we continue to empower our towns to make good decisions — this time they will remain.
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 20 years of nature columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com