Alt Reservation is a patchwork of former pastures that have been allowed to grow since the early 1900s. Greenbelt currently manages the property to enhance wildlife populations and provide visitors with a peaceful place to walk among the white pines that thrive in its soil.
Beaver Pond, White Cedar Swamp, and the upland woodlands of the Alt Reservation were important resource areas for the Indigenous people who lived here, Algonquian-speaking people known as the Naumkeag. Naumkeag was actually the name of their village at the outflow of Wenham Lake, as written by English colonists. In another of their villages at the outflow of the Castle Neck River in Ipswich, the same people were called the Agawam, and at Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack, where they fished, they were known as the Pawtucket.
To the Algonquians, cedar was and is one of the four sacred plants used in ceremonies and cures. The other sacred plants are sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco. The people gathered blueberries here and caught turtles in the pond. Turtle shells were used as bowls or fashioned into rattles used in curing ceremonies. Beaver Pond marks the headwaters of the Miles River, an Ipswich River tributary.
Flora & Fauna
A relic white cedar swamp, known as Beaver Pond, is located at the southern edge of Alt Woodland. These globally threatened ecosystems are native only to a very narrow strip on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Here you will see a variety of plants and animals, including blueberry bushes, sweet azalea, spotted turtles, and sharp-shinned hawks.