Jun 142016

villageschoolrobinsonFor much of the current academic year Village School fourth graders have been carrying out a study of the Robinson Farm Conservation Area. Teacher Mary LeBlanc refers to the project as “place-based service learning”, an effort that combined learning with community service. One aspect of the community service was a recent offering of student-led tours of the property. Readers may have seen an article about this in the June 2 issue of the Marblehead Reporter.

Another part of the project involved gathering information on animals one might find in the area, building a display around what was found and converting all that into a digital presentation. The students turned this accomplishment over to the Conservancy, and we offer it to our readers.

The presentation was constructed on a cloud-based platform called Glogster that was developed some years ago just for such a purpose. To view the presentation, go to http://amsogho.edu.glogster.com/robinson-farm (Adobe Flash Player required). Once at the site, the individual parts of the presentation are self explanatory. One suggestion: after reviewing one part of the presentation, close that tab and return to the home page before going to the next part. The presentation will be available this year. Enjoy!

The Village 4th grade receivd another honor on June 8th when their work was exhibited at the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty St. in Salem.

 Posted by at 10:28 am
Jun 142016

supportnaturecenterMarblehead’s Recreation and Park Commission is working hard to develop an education program around the Hamond Nature center at the foot of Everett Paine Boulevard. The Conservancy supports that effort by improving the trails around the Center. Recently The Conservancy’s Trail Crew joined with members of the Marblehead Explorer’s Club (www.boldcitizens.com) to repair a flight of stone steps just to the left of the cabin that are an access route to the rest of Wyman Woods. As the stones in the photo show, this was no small feat! In the days that folllowed, the Trails Crew picked up trash and trimmed all the trails in Wyman Woods. All of this is in preparation for an active summer at the cabin and in the

 Posted by at 10:21 am
Jun 202014

leadmills-oldmapThe Lead Mills property is now secured in ownership by the Town of Marblehead and the City of Salem. Again, we cannot give enough thanks to all those who helped make this possible.

The division of the property between Marblehead and Salem is further complicated by the fact that management responsibility for the property is divided among different municipal departments and commissions. In Marblehead’s case the Municipal Light Department is responsible for the old rail bed right of way which passes through the property, serving as a main corridor for power and other utility lines. The Town’s Conservation Commission is responsible for the remainder of Marblehead’s piece of the property. In Salem’s case, its Conservation Commission and Recreation and Park Department are each responsible for a part of the area. To simplify this situation, Marblehead has undertaken to provide routine and regular maintenance to the entire property pursuant to a written agreement between the Town and the City.

Marblehead is planning support for a small and independent project to suggest concepts for possible future usage of the property. This will be a student project for the Conway School of Landscape Design, to be carried out between April and July of 2014. The study is for conceptual thinking only, with no commitment for applying any results as presented in a final report. The graduate students have a great deal of work to do collecting information about the property, applicable regulations, and the interests of the public. However, the school’s past work shows their serious interests and capabilities. We look forward to seeing the results!

In the meantime…

In parallel with the efforts at developing concepts for property usage, another task is underway to collect information about the history of the site for possible use in creating interpretive signage. This will be tested to see how it might blend with the concepts developed by the Conway School.

The area’s history through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is particularly interesting. What became the site of a mill for producing white lead started as a grist mill on Forest River. In the same time period that the owner of Salem Lead Works bought the mill and used it to relocate his factory to the Forest River site, Marblehead was also providing financial support to the Eastern Railroad to build a rail spur from the town center to Salem, replacing an existing stagecoach run. The Eastern Railroad had just completed a line from Boston to Salem, and the spur connection to Marblehead was important to the local economy.

– Bob French

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Jan 042014

earthday-hawthornYour Conservancy combines recognition of Earth Day and Arbor Day because planned activities typically meet the intentions of both. This year a strong group of Boy and Girl Scouts worked under the direction of the Trails Committee to clear invasives and replace them with native plants in the Hawthorn Pond Conservation Area.

In a fitting tribute to the name of this area, hawthorn shrubs have been added to an interior location. Along the old rail bed, elderberry bushes have replaced multiflora rose. Topping off the change, one of the main trails is now bracketed with arrowwood, chokeberry, and blueberry bushes with a few American cranberry bushes in the wettest spots. It will not be long before these plants become quite noticeable.


 Posted by at 1:05 am
Nov 032012

Some fifteen years ago a group of citizens met to consider writing a book about Marblehead’s natural and historical resources accessible by the public. The six principle authors were Denny Curtin, Dotty Stephens, Laurie Levine, Leigh Webster, Jay Johnson and Beth Houghton. As their project progressed, many residents joined the effort; eventually adding over two dozen more volunteers. The result was the book “Discovering Marblehead, a Guide to Open Spaces and Historic Places”. Upon its completion in 2001 a collaboration of the book’s authors and the Marblehead Conservancy raised the money to publish the first 3,000 copies of the book, selling them out in about two years.

Everyone was saddened by the untimely death of Beth Houghton a few years ago. Beth’s estate made a gift to the Marblehead Conservancy which the trustees devoted to a living memorial for the wonderful gift the authors have bestowed upon the Town. With the permission of the Conservation Commission and based on a design by local garden designer Larry Simpson, the Conservancy constructed the “Authors’ Grove.” It features six native tupelo trees, a stone bench, a meandering trail, and a plaque. The community is invited to visit and enjoy this special place on Lafayette Street across from Carna Road.