For more than 40 years, the Plymouth-based Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts has been steadily acquiring land, keeping it free from development. The organization oversees a wide range of properties, large and small, nearly 250 in total. These are distributed across a significant area of the South Shore and South Coast – from Marshfield to Plymouth, south to Wareham and Rochester, and west to Taunton and Brockton. Slowly but surely, I am checking them out.
This spring my son and I headed over to Halifax to tour the Striar Conservancy. At 164 acres, it’s a relatively large property, with few traces of human influence. A single trail leads through the woods and across small streams, offering views of the Winnetuxet River and its freshwater wetlands, as well as the occasional small pond. It’s a quiet, understated place – not much to look at for the casual observer, but pleasant and peaceful. I understand it’s a haven for birders — home to as many as 90 different species, including woodcock, coopers hawk and ruffed grouse.
Our plan was to meet up with my uncle, along with his two golden retrievers. We’d amble and chat, and let the dogs explore. (Dogs are welcome at most Wildlands Trust properties, as long as they are kept under control.) We were hoping we might catch a rare glimpse of the river otters, known to make appearances at the Striar Conservancy, but – for this visit anyway — they remained elusive.
The Striar Conservancy is located on Thompson Street (Route 105) in Halifax, not far from Route 44. It’s in a beautiful part of town, tucked among meadows and farmhouses that harken back to an earlier time. Getting there is part of the adventure – leaving our strip mall-lined busy roadways, and entering a landscape that’s more rural and spacious.
Because there’s no published street address for the Striar Conservancy, you have to rely on your eyes to find it, and not your GPS. It’s not that difficult. If you’re approaching from Route 106 you take Thompson Street south for two miles and then look for a small parking area on the left. Or if you’re coming from Route 44, you take Route 105 north.
There is a wooden kiosk in the parking area, with a map of the property and additional information. The trailhead is right there. We spent a little more than an hour walking up the trail to the property’s boundary, and then back again. We probably could have done it in half the time, but instead we took frequent breaks so the dogs could wander off the trails and splash in the water.
The Wildlands Trusts opens its properties to visitors free of charge. By and large, they are open daily from dawn to dusk. In addition, there are a few simple rules – no hunting or trapping (except where posted); no fires, camping or litter; no cutting or removing of vegetation or other natural features; and no motorized vehicles or loud noises.
You can learn more about the Wildlands Trust via its website, www.wildlandstrust.org.
by Kezia Bacon
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 19 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com