Great Works Reserve

History:

This area has been heavily disturbed over almost three centuries by wood harvesting and fires. The most recent harvest, mostly pine, was in the late 1990’s before the land was sold to PATCO. And the last fire through here was in 1957.

The Johnson family settled in the area and operated both a grist and saw mill on the nearby Great Works River starting in 1790. The proximity of the saw mill to this reserve makes it reasonable to assume the first timber harvest from this lot occurred around that time. Mast pines may have been taken prior to the Revolution and firewood surely was harvested at frequent intervals. The Phillips family succeeded the Johnsons on the land and the heirs of Muriel Phillips sold the land to PATCO. In earlier years, the Hersoms operated a portable sawmill and established a permanent mill and lumberyard in 1949 south of the present-day roundabout. There are reports that the Hersoms harvested cedar from the swamp near the lumberyard.

Significance:

This property is home to two very rare natural communities that are dependent upon fire for their renewal and persistence. One half of the lot consists of a portion of a much larger pitch pine-scrub oak barren community. This vegetation may possibly harbor several rare moths and a butterfly. The other half is a portion of a much larger Atlantic white cedar swamp. This area is a known home to two rare turtles, a snake and a butterfly and possibly certain amphibians, a rare azalea and two other uncommon shrubs.

Management Plan:

  1. Maintain the pitch pine-scrub oak community by removing competing white pines and red oak. This may be critical for the survival of the community type since gravel extraction planned for adjacent land will eliminate a most of the contiguous area of pitch pine and scrub oak.
  2. Work with all the parties involved in the gravel extraction project to ensure that road construction will not lead to flooding and elimination of the cedar.
  3. Control beaver activity in the chain of ponds to prevent a similar outcome.
  4. Kill in place, competing red maples in the cedar swamp.
  5. Conduct a biological inventory to determine what species are present.