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Land Conservation News 

Ipswich Voters Help Save Pony Express Farm

The Pony Express Farm with its 128 acres of rolling land and riverfront has been saved from development after the Ipswich Town Meeting voted to approve funds that will add much-needed athletic fields while preserving an irreplaceable agricultural and natural resource.

Greenbelt worked closely with the Town committees that unanimously supported the project and we provided project information to residents.

The farm, which borders Route 133 and Candlewood and Chebacco Roads, has nearly a mile of frontage on the Castle Neck River, along with associated wetlands, which help protect the water quality of the 25,000-acre Great Marsh Ecosystem.

The purchase is a three-way transaction, with Greenbelt buying a portion of the property for $1.4 million, the Town approving $2.15 million for 30 acres for athletic fields and the MA Department of Fish and Wildlife spending $500,000 to protect land along the river.

The prime farmland soils on the Greenbelt property will be preserved for agriculture use as hayfields, with public access.  Greenbelt is working with Ipswich on property management, hoping for a spring opening.

Greenbelt Expands in Gloucester

Greenbelt acquired a 4-acre inholding in the Marble Road Conservation Area in East Gloucester.  Surrounded by City- and Greenbelt-owned land, this addition features classic Cape Ann granite outcroppings and a small pond, as well as frontage on the unmaintained Marble Road which connects two neighborhoods (High Popples Road to the south) and which is used extensively by hikers and dog walkers.

Land Stewardship Update

Wildlife Tracking In The Snow

Snow is finally covering our local landscape, offering fantastic opportunities to track wildlife. Snow reveals so much about where wildlife go and what they are doing. You can start right in your own backyard, perhaps finding the tracks of squirrel moving from tree to tree, or birds rummaging for seeds. Or visit your favorite Greenbelt reservation and hike the trails looking for tracks.                

First, use a track ID book to try to identify the species - perhaps deer, coyote, fox, otter or fisher - and then just follow it to see what unfolds. You will see where the deer stops to browse, or the coyote scent marks, or the fox pounces on a snow drift to catch a rodent or where the river otter slides across the snow and leaves muddy tracks where it goes in and out of the stream edge. So get outside and track wildlife….it's fun!

The photo above shows a river otter “slide,” where they have pushed themselves across snow on their belly to a stream. Notice mud marks on the snow, indicating fresh activity.

Upcoming Activities, Films, Lectures You Shouldn't Miss

Earth Day Clean Up, Clear Out, and Create Event

Looking for a fun, family-friendly way to celebrate Earth Day? Join us on Saturday April 22nd from 1-3 pm at Cox Reservation for an Earth Day marsh cleanup and art project extravaganza. Greenbelt is partnering with One Heart, Infinite Pulses, to provide an interactive experience.  Participants will help clean up trash and debris brought in by the tides, and then see that trash transformed into a work of art right before your eyes. Local artist Courtney Batistelli will use our collection of trash to create a temporary sculpture for all to see! While the design is taking place, you can enjoy all the property has to offer or participate in a voluntary session of 108 sun salutations led by Jemma Tory. All ages are welcome and any participation is embraced. RSVP required. For more information contact Andrew.

Overwhelming Interest in the "State of Our Oceans"

The very popular “State of Our Oceans” Lecture and Film Series is in full swing, with part 3 of 5 taking place February 22nd, 2 pm, at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Join us for “The Growing Importance of Aquaculture”, a lecture by Ted Maney, of Salem State University, who will describe aquaculture methods, and the pros and cons associated with fish farms as a way to combat the problem of overfishing. RSVP is required. 

Forgotten Farms - A Must See Film & Panel Discussion

"Dairy farmers remain the backbone of the region’s agriculture, but fight for survival in an age of artisan cheese and kale." Such is the provocative premise of this acclaimed documentary about an important farming segment that has been left out of the local food celebration.

Join us on March 2nd,  6 pm (mixer), 7 pm (screening), at the Cabot Theater in Beverly for  Forgotten Farms, followed by a panel discussion with the film makers and members of the Herrick family, a local dairy farm family featured in the film. Tickets are $11.75 for adults, Senior/Student/Child $9.75   and can be purchased in advance through the Cabot Theater website or at the door. View trailer

Meet New Staff Members

Rachel Horgan

Rachel Horgan brings a determination to protect “these amazing open spaces” to Greenbelt as our new Development Manager.  

Rachel, who became fluent in Mandarin when her father worked in China, was a swimmer at the University of Washington where her regular hikes in the nearby Cascades nurtured her love of the outdoors.  

Rachel was drawn to Greenbelt to “work for an organization with a purpose” and said she is looking forward to working with Greenbelt’s many volunteers and tapping into the passion they bring to our work. 


Eric Mortensen

Eric Mortensen joins Greenbelt as a Project Manager in our Conservation Department.   Eric, who grew up on protected land near a small tributary of the Delaware River, graduated from Vermont Law School where he studied environmental law.  

Eric has gotten to know many Greenbelt properties on trail runs, and taking environmental ideas and building communities around protected lands is his goal. Greenbelt is his first job in “the world I am interested in, where I can contribute to something important,” he said.  

Have Fun with Us!

Aquaculture & Its Growing Importance
Lecture by Ted Maney, of Salem State University, February 22, 2:00-3:30 pm
Parker River Wildlife Refuge, Plum Island   RSVP  FREE


"Forgotten Farms"
Film Screening & Panel

Discussion with the film makers and members of the Herrick family, a local dairy farm family.                           March 2, 6 pm (mixer), 7 pm (screening).
Cabot Theater, Beverly
Tickets  $11.75 Adults, Senior/Student/Child $9.75


Landscapes of Cape Ann Moderated forum will discuss changes to the Cape Ann landscapes taken place over time.
March 4, 11 am - 1 pm

Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester

Observing Cape Ann Waterfowl 
Walk/drive with birding expert Jim Berry.  Limited capacity. 
March 5  1 - 3 pm.

Friendly's Parking Lot, 226 Washington Street, Gloucester


Bald Hill Conservation Area Walk                   Partner event with YMCA/North Shore's Y Connections hiking group March 16, 9:30 - 11 am.
Sharpner's Pond Road Parking Area, North Andover

"A Sea Change" Film Screening                      Part 4 of our "State of Our Oceans" series

Restoration scientists from NOAA will be in attendance to answer any questions and facilitate the discussion after the film.                           March 23, 2 - 4 pm.        Parker River Wildlife Refuge, Plum Island   RSVP  FREE

Thank you for your interest in local land conservation 

Greenbelt | Essex County's Land Trust 
82 Eastern Avenue Essex, Massachusetts 01929

Phone: 978.768.7241 | www.ecga.org | Email: ecga@ecga.org
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