The River Road property borders what is called “the most scenic road in West Newbury.”
Greenbelt is in the process of creating a new public reservation, free for all to enjoy, with one or more trails through the wooded area south of River Road and a footpath to the river on the north side of the road. Greenbelt is also seeking permitting for a modest parking area for visitors, and a potential car-top boat launch on the river.
These 31 acres rise up from the Merrimack River and River Road, encompassing mature woodlands with stands of giant white pines, oaks, maples, and paper birches, wetlands, and a portion of a year-round stream. Eagles have been frequently spotted in the area in recent years.
Wetlands provide important habitat for species that rely upon seasonal vernal pools, a habitat type that is increasingly scarce. The intact forests are important for helping to purify water flowing to the Merrimack River.
The two pieces on the north side of River Road lie adjacent to the Merrimack River. One of these is almost completely flooded, and likely harbors wild rice, a rare plant that is critical food and habitat for waterfowl. The other piece is dry enough to offer the opportunity for foot access to the Merrimack River.
With support from the Open Space Committee, West Newbury residents voted in 2019 to approve $75,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the purchase of a Conservation Restriction on the River Road property.
The remaining $140,000 needed to purchase and conserve the land was fundraised privately by Greenbelt. Greenbelt is grateful to many individual donors, the residents of West Newbury, and the Fields Pond Foundation for their generous support that made this conservation project a success. More than half of the gifts received for this project were from West Newbury residents.
"River Road with 31 acres of woodlands with river access adds to West Newbury's large and expanding portfolio of conserved acreage crisscrossed by 30 miles of trails," said West Newbury resident and Open Space Committee chairman John Dodge. "This community is committed to maintaining its rural character and heritage. What's more, this is 31 acres of wildlife habitat that will not disappear. Deepest thanks to all who contributed their time, energy and money to preserve the River Road parcel."
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Town: West Newbury Total Acres: 31 Year Conserved: 2019 Difficulty: Easy
Greenbelt is grateful to several professional and staff photographers whose work is featured prominently within our website.
Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.