By Community Stewardship Program Coordinator, Conor Michaud
In 1993, Sidney and Harold Tucker gifted the 78.6-acre Tucker Preserve to Wildlands Trust. Since its donation, Tucker Preserve has become a major attraction for hikers and nature lovers throughout the South Shore. Sandwiched between Hanson, Hanover, and Pembroke conservation lands, this preserve has over 2,500 feet of shoreline along the Indian Head River and 1.75 miles of trails. While its natural features are a major attraction, they are not the only source of lure to this protected land. The Indian Head River was once home to the Indigenous tribes of Southeastern Massachusetts, and throughout the 17th and 19th centuries, became an important site of regional industry hosting mills and factories which produced iron work and rubber, among other products.
Together, Tucker Preserve and the conservation lands of Pembroke, Hanson, and Hanover surrounding Indian Head River, make up 325 acres of protected land with over 6 miles of walking trails and easily accessible boating access for canoes and kayaks. Though access to outdoor recreation is plentiful along the Indian Head River trail, the funding to provide adequate trail maintenance, amenity improvements, and educational signage has been lacking over the last several years. As a result of this funding deficiency and the continued devotion to providing public access to these historic lands, these three towns, as well as Wildlands and the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, came together as the informal Indian Head River Coalition. In February 2018, the Town of Pembroke, on behalf of the coalition, submitted a funding request to the federally funded Recreational Trails Program (RTP) to grant funding which would allow the necessary improvements to the Indian Head River Trail System.
This past September, the officially titled “Indian Head River Greenway Trail System Project” was selected for funding with work slated to begin in November 2018 and wrap-up in December 2021. The recently awarded RTP grant is provided by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and awarded and regulated to Massachusetts grantees by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Indian Head River Coalition was awarded $41,487 towards the trail project and will be required to match 20 percent of this funding throughout the three-year venture. Wildlands Community Stewardship Program will manage the project by facilitating trail work with volunteers and staff to complete all existing trail maintenance, new trail construction, and amenity improvements. Wildlands will also be working with a graphics designer and the North and South Rivers Watershed Association to create updated trail maps and educational signage throughout the trail system specifically highlighting the history and ecology of the Indian Head River.
The Indian Head River Coalition designed the project to benefit the greater South Shore community by preserving this historic, natural area and providing improved access for all non-motorized passive users. In addition, the project and the RTP grant program exemplifies the partnerships that can form between municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and State and Federal Government to achieve conservation efforts specifically designed for public enjoyment and the improvement of public and environmental health.