The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 27, 2008

Malcolm Land offers variety of trails and access to Estabrook Woods

 

The private conservation organization, The Trustees of Reservations, maintains the wheelchair-accessible trail and the field on the Malcolm Preserve located off Stearns Street. (Photo by Helen Lyons)

In April of this year, the Land Stewardship Committee (LSC) released its Management Plan for the Davis Corridor and Malcolm Land conservation properties. This provided a reminder to take another look at this conservation property and the benefits that it provides to Carlisle residents.

The 23.1-acre Malcolm parcel, located off Stearns Street, abuts both the town-owned Davis Corridor and the 10.6-acre Malcolm Preserve which is jointly owned by the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) and the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF). These properties include woods and fields and are heavily used by neighbors as well as by hikers who wish to access the Estabrook Woods from historic Two Rod Road. Both properties are used extensively by cross-country skiers.

The Malcolm Preserve also provides a handicapped-accessible trail which accommodates wheelchairs and baby strollers. There are benches where trail users can rest while looking over the field. Since the stone dust trail is relatively flat, it is appropriate for those who are looking for a pleasant, easy walk.

History of the land

In 1911, Arthur and Mary Malcolm purchased the farm on the corner of Stearns Street and Two Rod Road trail. The original house, built in 1800 by Benjamin Proctor, a cooper and carpenter, on the west side of Two Rod Road, burned down in 1958. The Malcolm’s son Allan continued living in the roofed-over basement of the house after the fire and farmed his family’s fields with his brother Wilbur until Allan’s death in 1992. They raised market crops including strawberries, flowers, raspberries, apples, peaches and pears. As recently as 1992, the land on which the Malcolm Meadows housing development currently stands and the meadow immediately to its west were active farmland. Many neighbors remember picking strawberries on the land or buying corn and other produce from Malcolm. His flowers were sold at the Boston Flower Market.

Parts of the Malcolm Land to the east of Two Rod Road abut land that was owned by the First Religious Society and used as a wood lot. According to the LSC’s 2007 baseline assessment of the property, further down Two Rod Road just north of the modern Carlisle-Concord boundary, is a rusting iron remnant of a portable saw mill from the late 1800s.

Acquisition

 

The Malcolm Land includes the town parcel under CR52 and the Malcolm Preserve owned by CCF and TTOR.

As Associate Conservation Commissioner Ken Harte recalls, after Allan Malcolm’s death in 1992, the land was willed to the Carlisle Congregational Church. In 1995, with the cooperation of the developer of the Malcolm Meadows senior housing complex and the Trustees of the Reservations, 23.1 acres of the 38-acre farm were purchased by the town for $200,000. The town received an $83,160 reimbursement toward the purchase from state Self-Help funds. In addition, 10.6 acres of the original farm were purchased by the TTOR and CCF. This parcel is known as the Malcolm Preserve. The remaining four acres were purchased by a developer to build the Malcolm Meadows senior housing complex.

The Malcolm Land includes an easement from Stearns Street to the parking lot. Town Meeting voted on April 11, 1995 to support the purchase of this land for conservation purposes. Funds came from the state Self-Help program, the sale of 80 Russell Street, funding from the Carlisle Conservation Foundation and a grant from the Trustees of Reservations.

General land description

Much of the Malcolm Land is a mature forest. Oaks, maples, birch and pine dominate the wooded areas, where one can also find, ferns, mosses, low bush blueberry and partridge berry.

The field areas provide a wonderful opportunity to observe nature. Since 1999 when bird houses were placed around the Malcolm Land and Malcolm Preserve, bluebird sightings have become common and, according to neighbor Susan Emmons, indigo buntings are seen most summers. The field areas and wildflowers change frequently as the TTOR mows to prevent re-forestation. Remnants of a butterfly garden that was planted as part of an Eagle Scout Project are still evident near the crushed stone path in the Preserve. The large rocks located in the center of the meadow are often covered with grapevines providing a wonderful aroma in September. Butterflies and dragonflies are abundant in the summer. Emmons has spotted an uncommon arrowhead spiketail dragonfly in the Preserve meadow.

Current uses

The Malcolm Land is used for walking, jogging, horseback-riding, bicycling, birding, cross-country skiing and nature study on its trails. The trails link to the Davis Corridor and to a major network of trails on protected lands in Carlisle and Concord. As part of Greater Estabrook Woods, it is protected land of great value for biodiversity.

A short walk in the land demonstrates a variety of micro environments. Leaving the smaller parking lot and beginning on the crushed stone trail, one immediately passes through a cool wooded area. Although small in size, every fall the variety of trees in this area attracts high school students working on the leaf project for earth science class. Continuing along the path the hiker emerges through a break in a stonewall into the open sunny Malcolm meadow. A wide variety of wildflowers grow here including Queen Anne’s Lace, black-eyed Susans, fleabane, daisies, joe-pye weed and yarrow together with sumac and grapes all of which attract a variety of butterflies.

After only a few hundred feet, a trail breaks off to the south from the crushed stone trail, and the hiker passes through a “hall of trees” created by two parallel rows of white pines. This shady area has a thick ground covering of pine needles which muffles sounds and is soft underfoot. A small bench looks out over the field. Continuing south for several hundred feet the trail passes through an opening in another stonewall and brings the hiker into the cool darkness of the woods. Here the trail is not as flat, but a short walk parallel to Stearns Street allows the hiker to enjoy an abundance of ferns and mosses while passing over a small seasonal brook and returning to Stearns Street via Two Rod Road.

Conservation Restriction

To protect this land further, Conservation Restriction #52 on the 23.1-acre Malcolm Land was accepted by vote of Town Meeting in May 2002 and by the Massachusetts State Legislature and was signed by the Governor in July 2004. The ConsCom voted to accept the restriction in August 2004. As noted in the LSC baseline assessment, this conservation restriction completed the Town of Carlisle’s commitment to Harvard College, made in return for Harvard’s 1997 Statement of Public Charitable Obligation, which permanently protects the school’s 672 acres of the Estabrook Woods, which lies in both Carlisle and Concord.

Non-conservation land use

A suggestion in 2000 to place a cell phone tower on the Malcolm Land led to a much more clear understanding of the procedure that must be followed to convert conservation land to non-conservation use if Self-Help funds were used to purchase the land. In 2001 Joel Lerner, Director of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, cited Article 97, which protects Massachusetts conservation land, in providing the following summary:

1) Obtain unanimous votes from the conservation commission to convert the land from the conservation use.

2) Obtain a two-thirds affirmative Town Meeting vote to convert the property.

3) Obtain a two-thirds roll call vote of the state legislature to convert the property.

4) Submit an Environmental Notification Form with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office.

5) Provide suitable compensatory land of equal monetary value and conservation utility as outlined in the Self-Help program project agreement and regulations.

Carlisle officials subsequently decided to propose leasing less encumbered town properties for cell towers.

Parking

The main access to the Malcolm Land is from the parking lot at the driveway entrance to the Malcolm Meadows senior housing development. The Malcolm Preserve can also be accessed from another smaller parking lot further along Stearns Street in the direction of Baldwin Road where handicapped parking is available. ∆


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