Great River Preserve - Bridgewater, MA
In 2009, Wildlands Trust and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game completed the acquisition of 230 acres along the upper Taunton River in Bridgewater. Purchased from the Lehtola family, Wildlands' 125-acre portion of the acquisition is now known as the Great River Preserve at Conihasset in recognition of and respect for the site's Native American history.
Great River Preserve encompasses a range of habitats and features that few other properties along the river main-stem can equal. It includes over a mile of pristine river frontage along one of the most scenic and undisturbed stretches of the entire Taunton River, expansive open fields, mixed pine/oak woodlands, vernal pools, and habitat for several rare species, including eastern box turtle. It is a vital link in a 1400-acre stretch of river corridor extending from the Cherry Street Bridge on the Halifax/Bridgewater line downriver to the Summer Street Bridge and the extensive fields of the Bridgewater MCI Complex. First-time visitors to the preserve often remark on its rural feel, which is attributable, in part, to the demise of the nearby Auburn Street Bridge and the consequent lack of auto traffic through the area.
This preserve offers one of the most diverse and inviting opportunities for walking and nature study anywhere along the Taunton River mainstem. Trails will carry visitors through woodland, riparian, and open field habitats.
The project was borne of two chance occurrences: Wildlands Trust board member Howard Randall facilitating a conversation between Wildlands Trust and the Lehtolas; and following extensive review by a subcommittee comprised of board and staff members, Wildlands’ board agreeing to modify our long-standing hunting policy in 2008. Until this policy revision, Wildlands Trust prohibited hunting on all of its preserves. Wildlands now permits hunting on select preserves only, including Great River Preserve at Conihassett. As DFG’s Joan Pierce related:
“The Lehtola acquisition represents a real victory for land conservation along the upper Taunton River. This project wouldn’t have been possible without Wildlands' willingness to revise its hunting policy and we appreciate the diligence and foresight [Wildlands Trust] exhibited in amending the policy. Hunting is an integral component of managing and maintaining healthy ecosystems all across the Commonwealth, but particularly in Southeastern Massachusetts, which presently supports an abundance of white-tailed deer”.
Off Auburn Street
125 acres (part of the 410 acre Taunton River Wildlife Management Area)
From the West:
Take Rt. 28 heading southeast on Main Street towards Central Square, Bridgewater, take slight right onto Rt. 104E (Central Square) and continue on 104E 1.7 miles before turning right onto Walnut Street and then left onto Auburn Street.
From the East:
From Intersection of Routes 58 & 106 (Halifax) follow Rt. 106W turning left onto Rt. 105 South/Thompson Street. After 1.9 miles, turn right onto Summit St., slight right onto Walnut St., and 1st left onto Cherry St. Continue, taking right onto Short St., then left onto Auburn Street.
Continue traveling about ½ mile to trailhead parking area on right. A kiosk is located ahead, just past the private farm and residence. Please respect private property- No Public Access.