The HCT has been awarded a $19,956 grant from The Nashua, Squannacook, and Nissitissit Rivers Wild and Scenic Stewardship Council to finance large-scale invasive plant removal, native plant re-introduction, and wildlife habitat restoration on the Coke Newsham land. The area consists of 27 acres of conservation land owned by HCT and situated near Harvard’s Town Center. It also connects to several other areas of protected land, as depicted in the image below.
HCT was motivated to submit this grant to support one of the primary land protection goals in the Nashua, Squannacook, and Nissitissit Rivers (NSNR) Stewardship Plan (https://www.
“The Nashua River Watershed Association, through this grant program, has given HCT an exciting opportunity. The Coke Newsham land offers the potential to act as a demonstration project and educational area for schools and town environmental organizations. It will become an ecological “gem” because it encompasses a mix of forested areas, wetlands and streams. It provides a habitat for numerous plant and animal species that contribute to the overall biodiversity of the area,” says Gina Ashe, Trustee for HCT.
(Image to the left illustrates heavy invasives growth along the waterway; the image to the right shows an area where invasives have been removed)
Part of HCT’s overall goals is to improve access to the Coke Newsham land for recreation, which includes constructing a new trail along the southern side of the land that will connect to the Harvard Conservation Commission land in the town center.
HCT has been working with volunteer teams for over 2 years to remove invasives, and the grant will dramatically accelerate this process. With funding, professional teams will clear invasive plants from the land and give native ecosystems the opportunity to grow. As part of the restoration work, HCT will work with consultants to evaluate existing vegetation and select native herbaceous and woody plants to restore the area and support the restoration of wildlife, birds and insects in this 27-acre area. HCT will also work to identify additional tributaries of the Nashua River in Harvard that should also be addressed.
Because invasive plants can be reintroduced to the project area by wind, birds, and other animals, regular monitoring will be required for at least 2 years after restoration. HCT has pledged over $10,000 in in-kind volunteer efforts to support restoration planting and ongoing maintenance.
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Harvard Conservation Trust is a private, charitable, non-profit land trust protecting Harvard’s wildlife habitats, water resources, and farmlands to benefit our community for future generations. The Harvard Conservation Trust owns or manages over 1,000 acres of protected land in Harvard through volunteer efforts and donations. The public has access to nearly 50 trails from dawn until dusk for hiking, trail running, picnicking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or organized group activities with permission from HCT.