Tuckerwood Conservation Area Draft Management Plan and Handbook

Prepared for the Natural Resources Trust of Bridgewater
Nature's Refuge Landscape Design

The Natural Resources Trust of Bridgewater (NRTB), working with graduate students of The Conway School of Landscape Design (CSLD), prepared the Tuckerwood Park Design in 1999. Graham Claydon of Nature's Refuge Landscape Design in Shirley, MA prepared this Management Plan Handbook after graduation from CSLD.

The park design was the result of a public process that involved Bridgewater residents and representatives of Massachusetts's state agencies. There were a variety of publicly advertised opportunities for input into these plans. The management plan was produced with input from state agencies, neighbors, and interested town residents.


The Tuckerwood Conservation Area is currently one of six developing parks in Bridgewater's Family of Parks. These sites offer different conservation values and passive recreational experiences for the residents of Bridgewater. These parks connect to the Bay Circuit Trail System around Boston, and are part of the bigger regional Taunton Heritage River Park System. The Town River is one of the tributaries to the Taunton River and is included in the Federal Wild & Scenic River Feasibility Study now being conducted by the National Park Service.

The NRTB is coordinating the initial development of this local project, providing the Town of Bridgewater with a turnkey park facility. The Bridgewater Conservation Commission is responsible for the administrative governance of Conservation land. The Bridgewater Park Commission will be responsible for the daily park oversight in accordance with approved management plans, and will work with town staff, volunteers and trained stewards to ensure the smooth operation of the park.


This management plan will guide the future park development of the Tuckerwood conservation property. This is a working document and should continually change to reflect future needs and conditions. However, changes need deliberate and careful consideration. It is suggested that a review of the document occur in conjunction with rhythmic updating of the Community Open Space & Recreation Plan.

Description and History

To the west of the property is Arrowhead Drive, a quiet residential cul-de-sac, and to the north of the property is High Street, a moderately busy residential road. Three Rivers Drive, with several quiet residential cul-de-sacs borders to the east, with the Town River forming the southern boundary of the property. A ninety-foot wide electrical transmission line easement bisects the site running in an east-west direction. Residential back yards abut the property on virtually all sides, except where the river is the boundary and a narrow section of land meets High Street. This section of land on High Street is the only public access to the property. This 32-acre wooded wetland with 2000 feet of river frontage has many vernal pools and is an island of nature surrounded by residences.

The site had been owned by the Chambers family since 1951, it was sold to the Town of Bridgewater in April 1998 with part of the cost being financed through a self-help grant. The site has been undisturbed since 1950 except for some perk test holes dug in 1989 and the regular vegetation maintenance along the electrical transmission line easement. This wooded wetland is located in the Bridgewater Zone II Aquifer Protection District and provides the valuable benefit of filtering water before it enters the aquifer.

A review of Massachusetts Historical Commission's Inventory of the Historic and Archaeological Assets of the Commonwealth show that there are no archaeological sites or historic buildings on the site. The proximity to water (Town River) and known archaeological sites nearby would suggest that the area is archaeologically sensitive, however, the soil survey map shows this to be an area of largely poorly drained soils so it is unlikely to contain archaeological sites. The vegetation indicates no dry areas on the site further supporting the belief that there were no Native American settlements here. The site was used for agriculture by European settlers until 1950.

Birdsall silt loams (BdA), this soil is present on a small part of the site and has slopes of less than 3%. It is very poorly drained with a high water table for most of the year. Coniferous woody plants grow in this soil. Because of the high water table and the likelihood of finding shallow water present, wetland plants grow here providing ideal conditions for wetland wildlife such as turtles, frogs, and salamanders.

Belgrade silt loams are one of the predominant soils BaA has a slope of less than 3%; BaB has a slope of 3-8%. These are the best drained of the soils but still only dry out slowly in the spring and after rain. Type BaB is subject to erosion because of the steeper slopes. These soils support grasses and legumes as well as herbaceous and deciduous plants. They are good for openland and woodland wildlife.

Saco very fine sandy loam (Sa) is level and is found in floodplains. This is present in the floodplain meadow and is formed by sands deposited by the river especially at oxbows. It has a high water table for most of the year, is often flooded, and provides habitat for wetland wildlife.

Slopes Raynham silt loam (RaA) is the predominant soil with a slope of less than 3% it is saturated for seven to nine months of the year. Because it is saturated for much of the year and often has shallow open water, wetland plants grow here providing ideal conditions for wetland wildlife.

The slopes on this site are mostly flat (0-5%) and suitable for hiking. The flat areas with slopes of less than 2 % tend to accumulate water when it rains. Two categories of steep slopes border the Town River. These thin strips of land are either slopes of 20-40% which are fairly steep but short and therefore suitable for light use or slopes of 40% or more which are too steep to walk on and are highly erodable.

The entrance from High Street slopes down and then levels before entering the parking area, there is a short steep slope as the trail leaves the parking area. Most of the Park site is level, with steep slopes going down to the gullies that drain the area. There are extremely steep slopes along the riverbank and down to the floodplain meadow. The highest point is by High Street at an elevation of 59 feet and the lowest is on the floodplain at an elevation of 27 feet, most of the site is at an elevation of 40 feet.

Slopes over 10 % are not desirable for trails. Slopes of 5-10 % are ideal for cross country skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. Slopes of 2-5 % are suitable for universal access and ideal for parking areas.


This mostly flat site retains water resulting in the formation of many vernal pools in the spring and many areas that are very damp throughout most of the year. There are two major drainage areas. These are found near the center of the property where they drain into two steeply banked gullies that flow into the Town River. The floodplain upstream is subject to flood at times of high water.


There are three distinct areas of vegetation: the riverbank and floodplain, the forest, and the scrub area, (or forb opening where the electrical transmission lines cross). The riverbank has a dominance of shrubs with grasses, sedges, and rushes in the floodplain. The forest is almost mature with many large red maple (Acer rubrum), white pine (Pinus strobus), and white oak (Quercus alba) trees.

There is a mix in vegetative areas; some have little understory and virtually no groundlayer, while others have a more open canopy and have encouraged a vigorous understory of tree saplings and high bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), with a thick groundlayer of ferns. This forest was probably an old-field white pine forest that now has extensive hardwoods owing to tree blow downs. The electrical transmission easement, essentially a forb opening, has a mixture of grasses and sedges with large areas of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) and some sapling trees establishing themselves. Some areas, chiefly along the riverbanks have extensive amounts of catbrier (Smilex rotundifolia). Exotic invasive plants are notably absent except for areas adjacent to the parking area, along the electrical transmission easement, and along the riverbank.

Wildlife Habitat

Areas of dense vegetation provide cover for deer, fox, and other small mammals. Water creates vernal pools and wetlands; these wetlands loose their standing water in the summer creating conditions ideal for many amphibians. The Town River provides habitat for fish, and waterfowl. Burrowing animals have taken advantage of the occasional trees that have blown over, excavating further and living under the root balls.

Other burrow holes are to be found in a few of the perc test holes that appear throughout much of the site. A few dead mature trees provide snags. Steep riverbanks reduce river access for animals.

Animals can easily follow the river corridor both up and down river but it is harder for them to leave in other directions owing to the surrounding houses and roads. The old-field white pine forest provides habitat for snakes such as the black rat snake (Elapheo obsolete), birds including the barred owl (Strix varis), downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata), tufted titmouse (Parus bicolor), ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), and mammals such as white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), gray fox (Urocyan cinereoargenieus). The forb opening provides habitat for birds including the henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii), common redpole (carduelis flammea), and mammals such as eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), woodchuck (Marmota monax), meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus).

Site Access

Access to the site is limited but very adequate. One access road leads to a parking area that will park eight cars. At present, a trail leads to a loop that passes a vernal pool and touches the edge of the electrical transmission easement. On the river side of the electrical transmission easement there is a circular path made by walkers and ATVs; it more or less skirts the perimeter of this area. This path has a private connection to an abutter's back yard on Arrowhead Drive. This connection is a small bridge over a ditch; it does not appear that ATVs are using this entrance.

At present, it is somewhat difficult to cross the electrical transmission easement owing to its overgrown nature. It is also difficult to find the trail back to the parking area; these problems will be solved by the installation of a trail and river viewing area, possible Eagle Scout projects in the future.


The primary features of the Park site are its natural features. These consist of the forest, river, forb opening and vernal pools. Natural features include:

Only a small proportion of the site is within the 100-year floodplain, namely the floodplain meadow. From observation of the plants, soils, and maps it appears that significant areas of the site are wetlands restricted, meaning that some park construction activities on the site will need approval by the Bridgewater Conservation Commission, as will work done within two hundred feet of the Town River.

The Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act and Rivers Protection Act will not hinder park development on this site, but will ensure that it is done in the least damaging manor. This holds true for all work, including removing vegetation as well as constructing trails, benches, bridges, etc. Because the land is under the control of the local conservation commission, they will need to approve all final design plans before any implementation can begin. While this Management Plan will have the general conceptual approval of the commission in place, implementation will need specific permitting.

This variable site dictates that desirable access to points of interest depends on carefully considering many different factors.

Administration and Management

Currently the Bridgewater Conservation Commission administers the Tuckerwood Conservation Area, purchased through a self-help grant, as required by Massachusetts's law. The Commission has established the following "General Guidelines for Public Use of Town-owned Conservation Areas":

  1. Bridgewater Conservation Parkland is open to the public from dawn to dusk except by Special Permit obtained from the Park Commission.
  2. The areas are to be used for NON-INTRUSIVE, passive recreation only, including but not limited to: hiking, fishing, canoeing, bird watching, photography, picnicking, etc., and where site approved, tenting, horseback riding and hunting.
  3. Areas are to be left undisturbed in their natural state. Practice Leave No Trace principals.
  4. There are no public toilets available. User must resort to digging 'catholes' if need arises.
  5. No dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles, or snowmobiles are permitted on conservation parkland. No automobiles are permitted off designated roads or parking areas.
  6. All dogs must be leashed in accordance with the local Canine Control Law. Owners are to promptly and properly remove dog wastes.
  7. Only hand-carried tents and watercraft are permitted: No boat trailers or camping trailers allowed.
  8. No person shall remove vegetation, soil or stones from the area or dig or disturb any artifacts or archaeological remains.
  9. There shall be no unauthorized use of chain saws.
  10. The Bridgewater Fire Department must permit campfires and cook fires. (508-697-0900) Fires must be kept in designated areas only, and be completely extinguished before user leaves the site. The user must remove all trash at the time of departure.
  11. No Alcohol or illegal substances are permitted on conservation parkland.
  12. Visitors should check the rules for individual parks regarding site-specific management and user-policy.
  13. Use of Bridgewater Conservation Parkland is free of charge; the user however, is liable for any damage to town property.

Although the Bridgewater Conservation Commission is ultimately responsible for this site, the newly formed Municipal Park Commission will be administrating the daily running of the park. They will act as primary decision-makers for the Volunteer Stewards and members of the Friends Groups. A program to organize the volunteers is sponsored by the NRTB. The volunteers can provide valuable services that help protect the natural resources of the site and the safety of visitors. These services could include maintenance, security, visitor education, safety inspections, etc. The Park Commission will need to determine the tasks that are to be completed by volunteers and those by town employees.

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Management of Physical Structures and Facilities


Because the site is nestled within a developed area, the boundaries border residential back yards. Although trails do not go near the boundaries, if you are off trail, it is easy to wander off the town owned property. Therefore, the boundary should be clearly marked with markers affixed to the bordering trees. At the downstream end of the site, a wedge of land continues along the river edge. It has been fenced off preventing access to this area; this barbed wire fence should be removed after first ascertaining that this area is part of Tuckerwood.


The planned small footbridge must be inspected every other year for signs of damage and rot; repairs must be made as soon as possible. Debris washed against the bridge should be removed to help prevent washout of the bridge.

Canoe take-out

There is a potential canoe take out at the eastern end of the floodplain meadow. The riverbank is low enough to allow a person in a canoe to get out of the canoe and onto the bank, and then pull their canoe out of the water onto the floodplain meadow. This area is unsuitable for a canoe put in because it is too far from the parking area. It could be used as a take out for people canoeing on the river so that they could stop for lunch or to stretch their legs. Depending upon the intensity of use, these areas can quickly become muddy and unattractive, resulting in silt washing into the river.

Monitor banks for erosion and reduce use by closing periodically if erosion is a problem. The posting of a notice explaining the need for closure should be sufficient; the area should be fenced to allow natural vegetation to re-grow, if a notice is insufficient. In the event that there is too much use to allow native vegetation to grow back, a dock type/canoe mooring structure will be needed. (See Conway Canoe Launch Design Plans)

High Street Entrance

The grass along the edges of the driveway should be mown once a year to prevent shrubs from growing in.

Parking Area

The parking area is relatively level and in good condition it can accommodate up to eight cars. A visitors kiosk should be placed on the periphery. The exotic invasive plants that surround the parking area should be removed.

Picnic Area

The area will be created as part of an Eagle Scout project in the fall of 2002. This area, shown on the CSLD design plan, will have some small trees and understory plants removed and some vegetation trimmed to provide views. The vegetation that has been trimmed to provide framed views of the river should be controlled on an annual basis. Low ground cover such as partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), already present, should be encouraged.

The area of catbriar (Smilaceae rotundifolia) should be left in place to protect the peninsula as wildlife habitat; this may be trimmed back slightly in two areas to provide views up and down the river. The shallow perc test hole located on the northern boundary of the picnic area should be covered with the brush generated when removing the small trees in the picnic area, potentially providing burrow habitat. Any extra brush should be placed in piles in the woods to provide cover for snakes, small mammals, and amphibians.

The area must be posted to inform the public that this is a 'carry-in/carry-out' site. The picnic area should be cleaned up if trash accumulates. The picnic areas may be subject to a high volume of foot traffic, perhaps causing erosion. A wood chip surface may have to be laid to prevent this.

Signs, kiosk and maps

Interpretative maps should be available for visitors. A kiosk to house this information should be placed on the edge of the parking area. These maps should give sufficient details to orientate visitors to the park as well as point out natural points of interest that are outside of wildlife sensitive areas. An interpretive sign could be place at the vernal pool close to the parking area. Other interpretative signs could be placed at the electrical transmission easement, the riverbank, the forest area near the parking area, and at the floodplain meadow. Signs and kiosk should be inspected yearly for damage, and maps replaced as needed.

Sitting benches

There are two sitting benches in the parking area; three more will be installed in the picnic area. These should be inspected for damage yearly.


Trail suggestions from the Conway School of Landscape Design are intended to visit natural features of the site. A knowledgeable consultant (see appendix) should perform sighting and detailed design of trail routes. The purpose of a trail is to provide not only a means of access, but also a trail experience; therefore, existing vegetation along the sides of trails needs to be maintained to give an experience of the area that the trail is passing through.

Plants such as poison ivy (Rhus toxidendorn) should be removed for a distance of five feet on either side of the trail. Trails often offer means for the spread of exotic invasive plants.

Trails should be monitored three times a year, once in spring, summer and winter for the presence of exotic, invasive plants, obstructions across the trail, and trail damage/erosion. Problems found must be taken care of as soon as possible. Exotic, invasive plants should be removed as soon as possible to prevent a larger infestation in the future. Trials have been designed to shed water; evidence of erosion along the trail indicates a fault in the design or construction and corrective action needs to be taken as soon as possible. Although trails normally tend to have relatively uneven surfaces, dangerous obstacles such as protruding rocks should be removed.

The current trail on the river side of the electrical transmission easement goes from the picnic area along the riverbank almost to the western boundary, then heads north along the boundary where it turns east at the spur that enters the backyard of a property on Arrowhead Drive. It eventually loops back around to the picnic area. Unfortunately, this trail runs through much of the wildlife sensitive habitat.

This trail should be closed and looped around as shown in the Conway School of Landscape Design conceptual design. This would be done before reaching the vernal pool near the current trail and could perhaps be done by encouraging the abundant catbrier to grow across the trail. The other end of this trail also needs to be closed. This should be done where the trail crosses the new trail going to the picnic area. This will be a lot more difficult to close due to the open nature of the undergrowth in this area. Notices stating that the trail is closed because it enters a wildlife sensitive area might work. It will be difficult to close the trail physically because people can easily walk around any obstruction.

To screen the houses at the western end of the property and contribute to the closing of the old trail that runs north up the western boundary, trees that are within ten feet of the trail should be girdled, this will provide more light to the forest floor and encourage shrubs. This will also create snags for wildlife. The shrubs will rapidly obscure the houses and block the trail.

To reduce damage to the wetland, a boardwalk is needed where the soils are very wet during the spring. Once installed, it needs to be routinely inspected for damage.

Trails are adequate for the use of emergency vehicle ATVs only. The small bridge is extremely narrow for ATVs, but the terrain is such that an ATV could skirt the bridge and easily cross the intermittent stream. The public use of ATVs is not allowed in the Bridgewater Family of Parks. ATVs damage trails and disturb wildlife. Police enforcement of this policy is essential.


The few areas of trash should be removed from the site and the area monitored for signs of dumping. The only items observed consisted of a wooden chair at one of the lookouts over the river and a wooden pallet near the trail in the woods.

Wood Duck Box

Nesting boxes could be place in the floodplain meadow they would provide nesting sites for wood ducks (Aix sponsa) until more tree snags are available as the forest matures. These boxes should be mounted no closer than 600 feet to each other at a height of sixteen feet, on black locust posts in the floodplain close to the water so that the ducklings can quickly reach the relative safety of the water when they first leave their nest. Construction details are in the CSLD Stiles & Hart design plans.

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Natural Resources

Animal Species

The following animals were observed to make use of this park during visits to the site during August 2002:

Animal Species Name
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Gray Catbird Dumetalla carolinensis
Redwing Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Wood Frog Rana sylvatica
Bullfrog Rana catesbeiana
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
Gray Squirrel Sciiurus carolinensis
Raccoon Procyon lotor

Exotic Invasive Plants

This site has experienced little disturbance and therefore has few exotic invasive plants. The few areas of exotic invasive plants are to be found around the parking area, along the electrical transmission easement, and on the banks of the Town River. The following plants are found around the parking area glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), Morrow's honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii). Along the electrical transmission easement there is a small amount of japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) and some Morrow's honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), with a fair amount of glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula). Along the Town River, purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) grows in abundance with glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) found on the floodplain meadow.

These plants stop native plants from growing and reduce the wildlife habitat value. The control of these plants is essential. The appendix has specific instructions on the best methods of control for these plants. These plants should be removed in this order if possible: oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), Morrow's honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii).

Before the oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata) is removed, it should be confirmed that it is not the native bittersweet that has flowers only at the end of the stem. Whereas the oriental bittersweet has flower clusters all along the stem. Control of purple loosestrife may be impossible because of the abundance of purple loosestrife on the opposite bank of the river. Each plant produces hundreds of thousands of seeds making control difficult. A natural predator may be the only successful method of control in this case.

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Forb Opening

The forb opening was created by the installation of the electrical transmission lines, the tall transmission line carries 115,000 volts and the two smaller lines carry 13,800 volts. The maintenance practices have preserved this habitat. Vegetation is controlled along the ninety foot wide electrical transmission line easement, to prevent vegetation growing close enough to the power lines to become an electrocution hazard, this includes any tree, shrub, or vine that exceeds fifteen feet at maturity. All woody vegetation growing on roads, pathways or adjacent to line structures or equipment is controlled to ensure safe, efficient inspection, maintenance and repair. Plants that pose a safety hazard such as poison ivy and multiflora rose are also controlled.

The easements are treated every four to five years. All tree species except conifers less than 2 feet tall are controlled. If they are greater than ten feet in height and they are stump-sprouting species, they are cut and herbicide applied to the stumps. Otherwise, they are sprayed with an herbicide. Each plant is individually sprayed to do the least damage to surrounding beneficial species that provide biological control by shading out tree seeds. The herbicides that are used are approved by the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture. Herbicides are not used within 100 feet of a private well, 100 feet of surface water, 100 feet of a wetland and 400 feet of a municipal well.

The National Grid issues a right of way yearly operational plan every year that details which rights of way are to be maintained and gives details of the procedures used and the herbicides that are used along with their fact sheets. Electrical transmission lines often act as wildlife corridors, they also attract a variety of wildlife because of the habitat edge that is created. Whilst a reduction in the use of herbicides at Tuckerwood would be desirable, because of the close proximity to vernal pools and wetlands, it is unlikely that the National Grid would be willing to change their management practices on this stretch of transmission line without a convincing argument.

Perhaps an easier way around the problem would to be use Park Stewards to pull up plants that would be controlled by the National Grid. Then when the maintenance of the right of way is carried out there would be no or virtually no herbicide use on the Park site.


As the forest continues to mature at the Tuckerwood Conservation Area, economically valuable trees are growing. However, owing to the lack of access to the site and its fragile wetland nature, the sale of timber is not recommended. The careful cutting of timber for use within the park system is recommended; this needs to be done with minimal damage to the surrounding vegetation. By cutting logs to the desired length at the felling site, they will be considerably easier to handle and cause less damage when they are moved.

Plant Species

The following plants were observed in the park during visits to the site during August 2002:

Plant Species name
arrowwood Viburnun lentago
red osier dogwood Cornus stolonifera
paper birch Betula paprifera
elm Ulmus Americana
eastern cottonwood Populus deltoides
eastern hophornbeam Ostrya virginiana
white oak Quercus alba
red maple Acer rubrum
shag bark hickory Cary ovata
common juniper Juniperus communis
eastern white pine Pinus strobus
poison ivy Toxicodendron radicans
goldenrod Solidago sp.
steeplebush Spiraea tomentosa
sweet pepperbush Clethra alnifolia
swamp dewberry Rubus hispidus
blackberries Rubus pensilvanicus
partridgeberry Mitchella repens
summer grape Vitis aestivalis
joe-pye weed Eupatorium maculatum
catbrier Smilaceae rotundifolia
barren strawberry Waldsteinia fragarioides
skunk cabbage Symplocarpus foetidus
virginia creeper Parrthenocussus quinquefolia
high bush blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum
marginal woodfern Dryopteris marginalis
cinnamon fern Osmunda cinnamomea
lady fern Athyrium filix-femina
sensitive fern Onoclea sensibilis
ground pine clubmoss Lycopodium obscurum
yellow pond lilly Nuphar variegata
common cattail Typha latiflia
sphagnum moss
cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis
rough blazing star Liatris pycnostachya
canada mayflower Maianthemum canadense
lady slipper Cypripedium sp.
duckweed Lemnaceae sp.
little bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium
wild sarsasparilla Aralie nudicaulis
wood nettle Laportea canadensis
aster Aster sp.
purple loosestrife Lythrum salicaria
morrow's honeysuckle Lonicera morrowii
multiflora rose Rosa multiflora
japanese barberry Berberis thunbergii
glossy buckthorn Rhanmus frangula


The Town River bordering this park site widens as it enters a floodplain, with extensive wet meadow on the opposite shore. People fish the river at the more accessible areas. There is little evidence of overuse at present; if excessive bank erosion occurs due to human traffic, reduce use by closing periodically. These areas of excessive erosion should be fenced and posted to allow natural vegetation to re-grow.

There is no evidence of fishing litter at present. An annual river cleanup needs to be carried out in the late summer or early fall; the use of canoes would allow retrieval of trash in the water. (The Conservation Commission has guidelines for river cleanups.)

Although the award-winning Bridgewater Sewer Treatment Plant upriver from the park discharges processed effluent into the river, it has no appreciable ill effect upon the water quality. In conjunction with the ongoing program at the Watershed Access Lab at Bridgewater State College, the water quality needs to be monitored, and a look out kept for areas of excessive plant growth indicating high levels of nitrates in the water, which typically are discharged from wastewater treatment plants and failed septic systems.

Perhaps the Stewards of the Tuckerwood Conservation Area could become involved with the Shoreline Surveys Project via the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Environmental Law Enforcement's Riverways Program as part of their training.

Species of Special Concern

The following species listed on the Massachusetts Natural Heritage Rare Species website at http://www.state.ma.us/dfwele/dfw/nhesp/townB.htm, are listed as species of special concern, threatened or endangered and are present in Bridgewater. They could find suitable habitat at the Tuckerwood Conservation Park:

Vernal Pool

Because vernal pools are disappearing due to development, this site is particularly valuable with regard to vernal pool habitat. Even at the height of the summer, two of the pools are very damp thereby providing habitat for small frogs and toads. The pool that the trail visits has water lilies growing in it, suggesting that it remains wet year round. This pool probably always enables the tadpoles to mature, even in dry springs and summers. Vernal pools provide a unique habitat to a range of creatures that have adapted to the dry pools in the summer. There are probably in excess of six vernal pools at Tuckerwood. They should be certified and recorded with the Commonwealth's vernal pool certification program.

Wildlife Sensitive Area

These areas, which the designed trails avoid, are in pristine condition except for the trail that goes through the western end of the property. These trails should be closed as discussed in the section on trails. Because the site is virtually surrounded by houses, the wildlife needs an area that is not disturbed by humans on a regular basis. Fortunately, these areas do not appear to host exotic invasive plants, further increasing their value to wildlife.

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Suggested Park Uses


This site is not suitable for the launching of canoes because of the long distance between the river and the parking area. Canoes can be launched at the Iron Works Park or possibly near the Stiles & Hart Park (in the future). There is a suitable stopping site on the floodplain; this would be a place to stop for a rest or to enjoy lunch, etc. This part of the river is particularly attractive for canoeing with slow currents and extensive views of the river floodplains and surroundings.

Cross-Country Skiing

Although this site is relatively flat, it would make an ideal location for cross-country skiing. It would be safe for beginners and attractive to skiers who want a "work out". To prevent accidents, trails must be kept clear of obstructions. They should be inspected and obstacles removed in December. Because the ground is frozen and covered in snow, cross-country skiing will cause minimal impact on the erodable soils.

Education/ Wildlife Observation

This is an ideal location for education with its river and forest. It provides many opportunities for learning about geology and nature studies. The NRTB should partner with the local school system to hold educational walks.

Evening Events

Although the park closes at dusk in accordance with Bridgewater Park Policy, the Tuckerwood Conservation area should be made available for evening/night-based activities such as an owl prowl or salamander migration watch. Special permits are to be issued to individuals or groups for these activities by the Park Commission. The area is not very suitable for astronomy with its limited open area.

Field Activities/Community Events

Owing to the forested nature of the site, the park is not suitable for field activities; however it would be suitable for nature observation by organizations as Boy and Girl Scouts, The Garden Club, nature clubs, and photography clubs, etc.


Because of the river, the park is already known to some of the local anglers. With easier access, more fishing should be expected. People fishing must be encouraged to take out their trash, especially fishing line. The use of lead fishing weights must not be allowed because waterfowl often consume these weights and lead poisoning results. The use of non-native live fish as bait should not be allowed. The sandy river bottom and associated aquatic plants attract several varieties of warm water fish such as redfin pickerel, bluegill, and largemouth bass.


Hikers should be encouraged to stay on the trails owing to the limited area for wildlife and the often wet, erodable soils. People walking their dogs must keep them on a leash as per the local town law (article XXI, dog leash law, section 1). This not only protects the local wildlife but also safeguards the dogs from the roads that are only a short distance away.

Horseback Riding

Owing to the lack of access with no connections to other open space, and to the potential damage of trails, due to the often wet, erodable soils, horseback riding should be discouraged at this site. There are other sites in the park system that are suitable for riding.


Massachusetts hunting laws chapter 131 Section 58 states:

A person shall not discharge any firearm or release any arrow upon or across any state or hard surfaced highway, or within one hundred and fifty feet, of any such highway, or possess a loaded firearm or hunt by any means on the land of another within five hundred feet of any dwelling in use, except as authorized by the owner or occupant thereof.

Taking this into account, there is an area approximately 500 feet long and 400 feet wide running along the bank of the river in which it would be legal to hunt per Massachusetts hunting regulations. Therefore, owing to the lack of space and its residential character, it is recommended that hunting within this small area be restricted to bow and arrow to reduce the disturbance to the residences bordering the Park.

Visitors should be aware that hunting might be taking place on adjoining properties. For example, during duck hunting season hunters are often on the river. A notice posted at the kiosk should notify visitors about hunting. Information on hunting regulations and seasons can be found at the Mass Wildlife website: http://www.state.ma.us/dfwele/dfw/dfw_toc.htm. It should be noted that through the sale of Hunting Licenses, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides money for the purchase of open space and species preservation.


Although ice-skating on the river may be possible, access is difficult and flowing rivers often have areas of thin ice. The other major disadvantage with ice-skating on the river is that there is no easy access for emergency vehicles in the event of an accident. There are other more suitable ice-skating areas within the park system such as Carver's Pond.

Mountain Biking

Owing to the lack of access, no connections to other open space, and the potential damage to trails due to the often wet, erodable soils, mountain biking is prohibited at this site. There are other sites in the municipal park system that are suitable for mountain biking.


The park offers many opportunities for picnicking besides the picnic area adjacent to the river. Users must make sure they take out their trash.

Public Events

Public events should be permitted on a case-by-case basis. They should be compatible with the site and not cause undue erosion or damage.


The park is unsuitable for sledding due to a lack of long hills and un-forested space.


The river has a slow current for most of its length and could be used for swimming, however, swimmers swim at their own risk. There is no easy access to the river for emergency vehicles. There are other sites in the park system that are more suitable for swimming.


This park is unsuitable for tenting; the lack of toilet facilities, fragile vegetation, and its proximity to local housing make it an undesirable place for this activity.

Universal Access

This site is not very suitable for universal access, the combination of short steep slopes and wet soils mean that a lot of extensive work would need to be done to make the site universally accessible. It would be a better use of resources providing universal access at other more suitable park sites.

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