Wyman Meadow Conservation Area Draft Management Plan And Handbook

How This Management Plan Was Prepared

The Natural Resources Trust of Bridgewater (NRTB), who worked together with Conway School of Landscape Design (CSLD) graduate students, prepared the Wyman Meadow park design and initial management plan in the spring of 2002. This management plan and handbook was prepared by Graham Claydon of Nature's Refuge Landscape Design in Shirley, MA after graduation from CSLD.

A public meeting was held at Bridgewater State College in May, when goals and objectives along with analyses and design concepts were presented. Comments were received from neighbors, land stewards, and interested town residents.

On June 2, 2002 a land steward accompanied Graham Claydon on a site visit to review the conservation area and perform a Biodiversity Day inventory. On June 19, 2002, final presentations of the park design recommendations and the initial management plan were made at Bridgewater State College.


Wyman Meadow is one component of Bridgewater's developing Family of Parks - currently one of seven. 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 Taunton River is included in the National Park Service currently conducted Federal Wild and Scenic River Feasibility Study.


This management plan acts as a guide for the future development of the Wyman Meadow Conservation Area on Plymouth Street in Bridgewater and is a working document; ongoing modification will reflect the changing needs and conditions of the community.

Description and History

Bordering Wyman Meadow to the northeast, Plymouth Street used to be on the stagecoach route from Boston to Plymouth. There once was a hay barn and dairy barn adjacent to the road on the west of the park entrance.

One of these served as a stagecoach stop and provided fresh horses for the stagecoach. The barns were removed in the 1970s.This 55-acre site has a long agricultural history as a dairy farm. It became part of the Wyman Farm Complex in 1954, being approximately one mile from the main farm.

In 1985, the Wyman Farm was voted Dairy Farm of the Year. In 1987, Wyman Meadow ceased operation as part of a dairy farm but was used for beef cattle and hay until the Town of Bridgewater purchased the property with a self-help grant in 1999. Most of this conservation area has been maintained as hayfield through grazing and annual mowing.

Located on the northeast side of Bridgewater, Wyman Meadow is bordered to the north by five homes along Plymouth Street. A new housing development with a cul-de-sac and up to ten homes is planned for the abutting northwest woodland. Bridgewater-Raynham Sand and Stone, a large sand and gravel quarry, borders the property to the southwest.

The southern property boundary includes over 1,750 feet of frontage along the Taunton River. The property across the river to the south is currently protected forestland under Massachusetts Chapter 61 program, although this fragile protection could be short-lived. The land to the east of Wyman Meadow is privately owned woodland.

Wyman Meadow maintains 40 feet of frontage on Plymouth Street, which provides the park's only legal access. A gravel road continues south from Plymouth Street to an informal parking area. Beyond the parking area, a water department easement continues as an un-maintained tractor path.

A barbed-wire fence extends along the woodland edge on the northwestern and northeastern property boundaries and along an unnamed stream that bisects the property as it flows to the Taunton River.

A bridge consisting of a 30' diameter corrugated metal pipe topped with a steel plate crosses the stream. Another unnamed stream enters the property from Plymouth Street along the northeastern property line, and the two streams join before entering the river. The western fence line continues to a large un-vegetated sandpit, which is indistinguishable from the privately owned sand and gravel quarry to the west.

This area is heavily used by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).The southern portion of the sandpit has recently been filled and graded, and a fence runs along the property boundary toward the river.

To the east of the sandpit is a knoll containing on open oak forest with little understory. The field on the knoll supports a variety of native and agricultural grasses, sedges, and forbs that prefer drier conditions. A multiflora rose hedge along the southern edge of the field is spreading to the oak forest.

Wyman Meadow supports several types of vegetation, including cattail marsh, wet meadow, grassland, forested wetland, shrub swamp, floodplain, and a potential sandplain community. Invasive exotic plants are aggressively colonizing the southern meadow and may threaten the health and biodiversity of native plants and animals if left uncontrolled.


There are seven different habitats on the site:


The vegetation at Wyman Meadow reflects the wet soils present on site. Most of the soils are sandy and silty loams, which are saturated up to nine months of the year. Since much of the well-draining soils have been disturbed, mostly sand remains.

There is little or no organic matter in these soils, which may be droughty in summer. Soils along the river consist of Saco very fine sandy loam land subject to flooding and constantly wet, Belgrade silt loam, which is poorly drained and erosion prone and is the predominant soil throughout the site. A narrow band of Birdsall silt loam extends to the river; this soil is poorly drained with frequent standing water.

Merrimac sandy loam, a well-drained soil that is underlain with gravel, borders the river for a short distance and extends towards the sandpit. The sandpit and knoll are also well drained consisting of Hinckley gravely, loamy sand that has a low organic content and is droughty.

The three other soils on the site -Raynham silt loam, Scarboro sandy loam, and Belgrade silt loam are all poorly drained soils. The wet soils will influence where trails will go and may require boardwalks if trails must cross them. These wet soils also create specific habitats for wildlife.


A gentle slope from an elevation of 50 feet at Plymouth Street descends to 29 feet close to the knoll before sloping up to the top of the knoll at just above 60 feet. The land slopes down to the river at an end elevation of approximately 25 feet with steep banks along most of the river.

Much of Wyman Meadow is nearly flat, with a slope of less than five percent. Many of these areas have potential to be universally accessible, but are often wet. Some areas are somewhat steep, which improves drainage. The rolling hills provide opportunities for sledding and cross-country skiing.

The steepest areas should be avoided to protect the land and vegetation from eroding. Most slopes are gentle and do not limit accessibility. Most of the steeper slopes are around the knoll.


Water drains well where slopes are noticeable. Except where water saturates the soil, water drains toward the river through streams and sheet flow. There are two major unnamed streams flowing through the property, one laterally bisecting it, and the other running along the eastern border from the road.

In addition to these two brooks, there are several intermittent streams and swales running through the fields, along the tractor path, and through the oak forest. While water is draining to the sand pit, it does not accumulate, as the soil drains well. Wyman Meadow contains many wet areas. Water generally drains toward the Taunton River. Most of the standing water is found on the northeastern half of the property.


The abundance of water at Wyman Meadow attracts a great variety of wildlife. Wetlands provide habitat for amphibians, mammals, insects, and a variety of birds, such as the red-winged blackbird, the little blue heron, and the woodcock. If managed correctly, grasslands could provide habitat for a variety of ground nesting birds several of which are threatened due to the decline of open grassland.

Eastern meadowlarks and bobolinks are likely inhabitants, with the possibility of Savannah Sparrows. Carefully chosen trail locations could provide ground-nesting birds with both the nesting cover and privacy of tall grassland, and the short grass foraging areas they require. The abundance of edge habitat invites birds of prey, reptiles, fox deer, and small rodents to inhabit Wyman Meadow.

Views and Points of Interest

Wildlife viewing opportunities are excellent due to the wide, open views in the fields and forests. Long views across the meadows are framed by the woodland edges. The oak and pine forests are open providing views into the woodland.

These views allow easy access to points of interest, including streams and the riverfront. Wyman Meadow offers the freedom of open space with the comfort of enclosure.

Legal Restrictions

Federal, state, or municipal wetland protection laws protect most of Wyman Meadow. The conservation commission will need to approve any changes to the site. Bridgewater water department retained twenty of the fifty-five acres at Wyman Meadow for the development of a public well.

Administration and Management

Currently the Bridgewater Conservation Commission administers the Wyman Meadow Conservation Area as required by Massachusetts's law for self-help purchases. The Commission has established the following:

"General Guidelines for Public Use of Town - Owned Conservation Areas"

  1. The area is to be used for non-intrusive recreation only: hiking, canoeing, fishing, tenting, bird watching, photography, etc.
  2. No dirt bikes or all-terrain vehicles permitted on Conservation land.No automobiles are permitted off designated roads.
  3. Only hand-carried tents and watercraft are permitted: No boat trailers or camping trailers allowed.
  4. Area is to be left undisturbed in its natural state.
  5. No person shall remove vegetation, soil or stones from the area or dig or disturb any artifacts or archaeological remains. There shall be no unauthorized use of chain saws.
  6. All fires must be in designated areas only and be completely extinguished before you leave the site. All trash must be removed by the user at the time of departure.
  7. No discharge of firearms, drunkenness, or chemical abuse is permitted on Conservation Land.
  8. Use of premises is free of charge; the user however, is liable for any damage to Town property.

These general guidelines will need to be updated, allowing for appropriate, site-specific policy at each park.

Although the Bridgewater Conservation Commission is ultimately responsible for this site, the newly formed Park Commission will be administrating the daily running of the park. Utilizing the Volunteer Stewards as the 'hands -on' part of this equation, they will be responsible for seeing that this site management plan is followed.

The NRTB sponsors a program to organize the Volunteer Park Stewards. 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.

Management of Physical Structures and Facilities

Boundary Fences

Barbed wire fences along the eastern and western property lines need to be removed; instead, trees should be marked to indicate the border. The removal of these fences will allow easier access to the conservation area by wildlife. The forest edge should be encouraged to extend up to 100 feet into the meadow, to provide forested buffers in case of abutting property development. Establishing a mow line one hundred feet from the boundary can do this; any exotic invasive plants that grow in should be removed.


The current bridge/culvert, consisting of a 30-inch diameter corrugated metal pipe and overlying steel plate, needs reinforcement if heavy vehicles will be using the water department easement to access potential wells. Burying the pipe under gravel will increase its load-bearing capacity. The current bridge is adequate for pedestrians, equestrian, tractors, and emergency vehicles.

The metal swing gate should be removed from the bridge. The bridge/culvert needs to be examined annually for signs of damage or collapse. Debris should be removed to allow water to flow freely through the pipe.


A small footbridge crosses a spring-fed stream in the oak forest. This 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 Stop

There are two areas suitable for canoe stops, providing a rare opportunity for canoeists since most of the riverbanks are steep. While these are excellent stopping points, they are not suitable for canoe launches because of the long distance across a wetland and sensitive habitat to the parking area.

The western/upstream canoe stop would be a suitable access from the river to a tenting area. The eastern/downstream canoe stop makes use of a mudflat bordering one of the unnamed streams that enters the Taunton River. A trail up to the meadow traverses a longer distance along the contours and avoids running perpendicular to the slope to minimize slope erosion. Steps may need to be constructed if erosion becomes a problem.

Depending upon 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-establish. In the event that there is too much use to allow native vegetation to grow back, a dock type structure and or steps will be needed.(See Conway Design for suggested plans.)

Interior Fence Removal

Barbed-wire fences that run along the stream and bisect the meadow should be removed to allow wildlife to move freely throughout the site.


An informational kiosk should be installed where the trail leaves the parking lot. Interpretative maps and brochures should be available to orientate visitors to the park as well as point out natural features. Bulletins inform visitors of special events, safety concerns, and park rules.

The kiosk should contain an informative display about the wildlife present on Wyman Meadow, and an ongoing list of wildlife sightings. Visitors should be warned of the presence of large numbers of dog ticks on the property and the possibility of deer ticks, both of these ticks can spread disease and infections to humans. There might also be a public notice regarding approved hunting seasons. The kiosk should be inspected yearly for damage and maps replaced as needed.

Nesting Boxes

Placing Bluebird boxes along the shrub swamp edge will attract insect-eating birds, such as bluebirds and tree swallows. The bluebird boxes should be installed in pairs mounted back-to-back facing east west with both boxes facing open field. Dual boxes will result in less competition between tree swallows and bluebirds for a single box.

The pairs of boxes can be placed as close as 20 feet apart. The boxes need to be at least 5 feet from the ground. Predator guards should be installed. Details of predator guards and box construction are in the appendix.

Overlook with Bench

A rustic sitting bench placed off the trail at the forest edge will provide a place to rest and enjoy the long views across the meadow.

Parking Area

An informal, gravel-parking area accommodates 12 cars. A center-aisle allows vehicles to pass through for emergency access and property maintenance. To improve the parking area and reduce maintenance geotextile fabric should be placed underneath the gravel, preventing the gravel from sinking into wet soils.

Gravel should be added, raked, and compacted as needed to fill ruts. The culvert just northeast of the parking area needs to be kept clear of debris to prevent flood damage to the parking area.

Entry Driveway and Parking Area

River Overlook

The trail leads to a rustic sitting bench under a large red maple tree on the bank of the Taunton River.


Installing signage in accordance with the design standards for the Bridgewater Family of Parks at the entrance on Plymouth Street will welcome visitors to Wyman Meadow. Signage along the Taunton River canoe rest sites should be consistent with the National Park Service model now being installed all along the Taunton Heritage River System.


Trails should be designed to visit natural features of the site. A knowledgeable consultant (see Appendix) should perform sighting and detailed design of trail routes. Trails provide not only a means of access but also a trail experience; therefore, existing vegetation along the sides of trails should be maintained to give an experience of the area that the trail is passing through.

Trails often offer means for the spread of exotic invasive plants. They 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 are removed as soon as possible to prevent a larger problem in the future. Trials have been designed to shed water and evidence of erosion along the trail indicates a fault in the design or construction; 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. This is especially important for trails that have universal accessibility. All of the parks could have universal accessibility with the construction of universal access compliant trails. This would include the provision of rest areas on steeper slopes.

Current guidelines are being revised regarding grade and the provision of rest areas therefore the latest guidelines should be consulted before design and construction are started. On steeper sections of universal access trail, rest stops need to be kept clear of debris, as should culverts under trails to prevent water flowing over the trail.

The trails are designed for mountain bike use; they can also be used by emergency vehicle ATVs. 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. In the area of the sandpit, the trail should stay close to the eastern woodland edge to protect the revegetating sandpit. Once the area has recovered, the trail should be moved to the western woodland edge to provide a larger habitat for ground-nesting birds; then the eastern trail should be abandoned.

The trial should consist of a four-foot-wide grass path, mown as needed to maintain grass heights below 18 inches. From the parking area the trail continues along the existing tractor path to minimize wetland and wildlife disturbance.

Large, frequently wet depressions in the trail need to be culverted, covered with gravel and soil, and revegetated. Geotextile fabric placed underneath the gravel prevents it from sinking into wet soils. Improving drainage allows emergency and maintenance vehicles easier access.

Access Road to Well Site

The town should acquire additional land to the west to complete the 400-foot radius well protection zone required. An easement across private property to the west is desirable for access to the well, as the terrain is flatter and drier. The current water department easement contains several wet depressions and crosses protected wetlands. The new road should be gated to prohibit access from unauthorized vehicles.

Natural Resources

Animal Species

The following animals were observed to make use of this park during the Biodiversity day walk in June 2002:

Animal Species Name
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Great blue heron Ardea herodias
Northern cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo
redwing blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
brown-headed cowbird Molothrus ater
canada goose Branta canadensis
common grackle Quiscalus quiscula
mourning dove Zenaida macroura
killdeer Charadrius vociferus
white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus
pond skater Gerridae sp.
northern metalmark Calephelis borealis
dogtick Dermacentor variabilis

Exotic Invasive Plants

These plants stop native plants from growing and reduce the wildlife habitat value of the site. Controlling them 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: purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria ), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora ), autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata ), rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa), yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus).Purple loosestrife and multiflora rose are the most serious pests, having the greatest impact and being the hardest to control.

Floodplain Meadow

This area should be brush-hogged to remove shrubs and small trees that are becoming established. Selected young oak trees should be protected during this brush-hogging operation. Exotic invasive plants should be removed (see appendix).After the first year, the area should be mowed biannually. Views of the river are improved by the removal of exotic invasive shrubs and are maintained.

Floodplain Meadow


Traditionally Wyman Meadow has been used for pasture or as a hay field. Because the amount of grassland in Massachusetts has decreased dramatically in the last thirty years, this meadow is of extremely high value to ground-nesting birds. Traditional haying usually results in one cut in June and another later in the summer.

This produces two crops of hay and results in higher quality hay. By waiting to cut hay until August 15 the nutritional value and quantity of the hay is decreased. The Conservation Commission will need to decide if traditional haying is done with the consequential damage to ground-nesting birds or, if haying that takes into account the needs of ground nesting birds is done.

The trails should stay close to the woodland edges to protect ground-nesting birds. The trail should consist of a four-foot wide grass path, mown as needed to maintain grass heights below 18 inches tall.

A plant biologist should identify the species of grass present and inventory the grasslands. Many invasive exotic grasses, such as tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), may be controlled through early spring controlled burns. A management plan for controlling invasive exotic grasses should be developed once an inventory is completed .It is very important that the current grassland be maintained as grassland and not allowed to grow into forest over time; the best method of maintaining grassland is by mowing and/or burning.

Currently grasslands are disappearing because of development, fire suppression, and the decline of dairy farming in Massachusetts. This site is predominated by wet meadows, by definition grassland that grows in poorly draining soils especially in depressions where water collects. The wet meadows are found in the floodplain and in the northeastern third of the property. The area on the northeast side of the knoll is a meadow consisting of moderately well drained fertile soils.

There are two types of grass found in grasslands; the cool season and warm season grasses. The cool season grasses grow best in early spring and fall and are generally shorter than warm season grasses. These cool season grasses provide early food and cover for animals, including insects, which provide food for birds. Some ground-nesting birds prefer shorter grass heights. These grasses produce abundant late summer seeds.

They provide poor habitat for ground-nesting birds because they become too dense to allow easy movement. Warm season grasses grow best in summer when there are hot sunny days. They grow in clumps and are generally taller than cool season grasses.

Warm season grasses are typically grown in mixed fields with forbs (wildflowers).These grasses provide excellent winter cover because they hold up; their clumping growth habitat allows free movement under the cover of tall grasses. They are an excellent source of late summer seeds. Wildflowers provide nectar to insects and birds.

Management Options for Specific Ground-nesting Birds that may use Wyman Meadow

Bobolink Eastern Meadowlark Grasshopper Sparrow
Breeding Dates May 25-Jul 15 Apr 21-Aug 15 May 20-Jul 30
Egg dates Jun 1-8 Apr 21-Jul 28 May 25-Jul 15
Broods/year 1 2 1-2
Minimum grassland Size (acres) 5-10 15-20 30
Territory size (acres) 1-6 6-8 2-4
Nest type Cup nest in ground depression, in mat of dead grass 4ft. tall, at base of dense forbs Domed cup nest, often with runway, in ground depression in dense vegetation 10-20" tall Cup nest in ground depression, in grass clumps or at base of low shrub
Diet Caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, grain/weed seeds Crickets, grasshoppers, seeds Grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, grass/weed seeds
Grassland Type Upland meadow, wet meadow, pasture, old fields, hayfields, capped landfills Upland meadow, pasture, old fields, hayfields, capped landfills, airports, shrubby fields Upland meadow, pasture, old field, sandplain grasslands, landfills
Vegetation Structure 8-12" mixed grass, sedge, forbs, old hayfields, 8yrs. Old, sparse groundcover, moist lowlands, 25% shrubs 10-20" sparse to dense grass-dominated cover in low, damp areas, thick layer dead grass, low scattered shrubs, taller forbs 4-12" bunch grasses, sparse litter and grass cover, bare patches, scattered tall forbs and shrubs, well-drained uplands preferred
Mowing Every 1-3 yrs. In late July or Aug to prevent nest destruction, remove hay to prevent thatch build up Every 1-3 yrs. in Aug. to prevent nest destruction Annually outside of breeding season (May 1-Aug 5)
Prescribed burning Avoids recently burned areas for 1 yr. Burn patches every 2-5yrs. but not whole area in year Avoids recently burned areas for 2-4 yrs. until shrubs regrow, avoids areas with thick litter layer Nesting increases 4-5 years following burn, prefers sparse litter layer, burn in sections, 5-7 yr. Rotations
Restoration Plant native warm season grasses, restore erodable, marginal farmland, no-till reseeding methods Plant native warm season grasses in moist areas, no tilling during breeding season Plant native warm season grasses, forbs, and shrubs in well-drained, sandy soil, avoid sod forming grasses
Notes Greatest nest success far from forest edge Sensitive to human disturbance while breeding

Savannah Sparrow Vesper Sparrow
Breeding Dates May 21-July 31 April 15-Aug. 30
Egg dates May 21-June 29 April 15-Aug. 11
Broods/year 1-2 1-2
Minimum grassland Size (acres) 20-40 30
Territory size (acres) 1-2 1-4
Nest type Cup nest in ground depression, in grass clumps or at base of low, woody shrub Cup nest in ground depression at base of forb or thin clump of grass.sparse vegetation
Diet Caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, grass/weed seeds, fruit Beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, grass/weed seeds
Grassland Type Upland meadow, pasture, old fields, hayfields, blueberry barrens, airports, coastal areas Upland meadow, pasture, old hayfields, sandplain grasslands, blueberry barrens, weedy edge
Vegetation Structure 1-25" mixed short/tall grass, moist, thick layer dead grass, scattered saplings, shrubs, forbs, field age unimportant 1-8" sparse, short grass on dry uplands with low forb density, scattered shrubs and small trees
Mowing Annually after mid Aug. to maintain short grasses. Mow forage areas frequently: leave nesting area unmown during breeding season (Apr 15-Aug 30)
Prescribed burning Avoids recently burned areas for 1 yr. Burn patches every 2-5yrs. but not whole area in year Avoids recently burned areas for 2-4 yrs. until shrubs regrow, avoids areas with thick litter layer
Restoration Plant a mixture of tall and short grasses and forbs Plant native warm season grasses in well-drained fields with sand or gravel: provide undisturbed sparse vegetation with perches at edge
Notes Forages in nearby brush and woods

Mowing Practices

Grasslands are to be mown every other year after August 15, to ensure the protection of ground-nesting birds. These fields are often wet, and should be mown during dry periods to prevent soil erosion. Remove hay to prevent thatch build-up. Biannual mowing is sufficient to prevent trees and shrubs from becoming established in the meadow.

Grasslands are mown on rotation, with alternating halves mown each year. The remainder of uncut grass provides winter cover for wildlife. Mower blades should be set to a height of six inches or more, flushing bars on haying equipment are required to move birds hiding in the grass. Mowing should not be carried out at night because of the presence of roosting birds.

Revegetated Sandpit

A fence should be installed along the property line from the existing line of white pines through the sandpit to the well access road. The fence would protect the area from ATV users and allow the area to revegetate naturally. Once groundcover is established, a treeline needs to be maintained by establishing a no-mow line.

A mixed hardwood forest, up to 200 feet deep to the property line could provide wildlife habitat and improves views to the west. Exotic invasive plants must be removed before they get established. Once a meadow is established it should be mown biannually on rotation.

Streamside Vegetation

Small trees and shrubs along the stream should be encouraged to fill the slope overlooking the stream. Low vegetation protects banks from erosion and improves wildlife habitat without obstructing views across the meadow.


As the forest continues to mature more economically valuable trees are growing, however, owing to the fragile wetland nature of the site and the small quantity of timber, the sale of timber from Wyman Meadow is not recommended. The careful cutting of timber for use within the park is recommended; this needs to be done with minimal damage to the surrounding vegetation.

By cutting logs to desired length at the felling site, they will be considerably easier to handle and cause less damage when they are moved to the utilization area within the park site.

Oak Forest

Plant Species

The following plants were observed in the park during the Biodiversity day walk in June 2002:

Plant Species name
gray birch Betula populifolia
elm Ulmus Americana
white oak Quercus alba
red maple Acer rubrum
black cherry Prunus serotina
apple Malus sylvestris
shag bark hickory Cary ovata
red cedar Juniperus virginiana
eastern white pine Pinus strobus
poison ivy Toxicodendron radicans
goldenrod Solidago sp.
blackberries Rubus pensilvanicus
buttercup Ranunculus acris
milkweed Asclepias sp.
queen anne's lace Daucus carota
catbrier Smilaceae rotundifolia
jewelweed Impatiens capensis
arrow arum Peltandra virginica
sensitive fern Onoclea sensibilis
white campion Silene latifolia
red osier dogwood Cornus stolonifera
common cattail Typha latifolia
english plantain Plantago lanceolata
hairy vetch Vicia villosa
cow vetch Vicia cracca
nodding onion Allium cernuum
canada mayflower Maianthemum canadense
barren strawberry Waldsteinia fragarioides
dewberry Rubus hispidus
purple loosestrife Lythrum salicaria
yellow iris Iris pseudacorus
morrow's honeysuckle Lonicera morrowii
multiflora rose Rosa multiflora
rugosa rose Rosa rugosa
autumn olive Elaeagnus umbellata


There are two small ponds in the flood plain meadow, they probably dry up in the summer. They are breeding pools for frogs as evidenced by the large number of tadpoles observed during the biodiversity walk.

There is a small amount of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) present this should be removed as soon as possible before it is firmly established. Ponds need to be monitored for the presence of other exotic invasive plants and these must be removed as soon as possible.


The river is used by people fishing although access is not that easy with the relatively steep banks. If excessive bank erosion occurs due to human traffic, reduce use by closing periodically. The area should be fenced and posted to allow natural vegetation to regrow.

There does not seem to be a problem 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.)

This river supports much wildlife including rare mussels. There is also evidence of otter activity. The water quality needs to be monitored as the river has an unpleasant odor that is not present upstream in the Town River. It seems to originate on the Matfield River.

Perhaps the Stewards of the Wyman Meadow 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 & Endangered Species website at www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/natural-heritage/, are listed as species of special concern, threatened or endangered and are present in Bridgewater. They could find suitable habitat at the Wyman Meadow Conservation Park:

Suggested Park Uses


There are two areas suitable for a canoe stop with the upriver stop also being close to an area suitable for limited tenting. The river is too inaccessible at Wyman Meadow for the launching of canoes.

Cross Country Skiing

Most of the site is ideal for cross-country skiing with flat terrain or gentle slopes. The small amounts of steeper slopes have little or no obstacles. The very gentle slopes are an attraction to beginning skiers, whilst the steeper slopes offer challenge and excitement. To prevent accidents trails must be kept clear of obstructions.

Education/ Wildlife Observation

This is an ideal location for education with its river, ponds, grasslands, and woods. 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 Wyman Meadow Conservation Area should be made available for evening/night-based activities such as an owl prowl or astronomy. Special permits are to be issued to individuals or groups for these activities by the Park Commission.

Field Activities/Community Events

This area seems ideally suited for field activities, however the fields should not be disturbed until after the grassland birds have fledged (August 15).The northeastern end of the site is predominantly wet meadow; this will not stand up to a lot of foot traffic and will not be popular with visitors if they get wet feet etc. This park would be ideal for nature observation by such organizations as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 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.


Although hiking does not have to be restricted to the trails, hikers should be encouraged to stay on the trails especially in the grassland areas during nesting season (May 15- August 15). People walking their dogs must keep them on a leash as per the local town law (article XXI, dog leash law, section 1) this is essential to protect the ground nesting birds. A notice at the kiosk should remind visitors of these requirements.

Horseback Riding

This is an ideal area for horseback riding, although, connections with other riding areas would be desirable; there are horse barns in the area and riders could access the site along Plymouth Street. Horseback riders should be encouraged to stay on the trails especially in grassland areas during nesting season (May 15- August 15).

The wet meadows and flood plain meadow will also be susceptible to damage from horse riders especially if the ground is wet and soft, therefore, riders should be requested not to ride in these areas unless they are frozen solid or have completely dried out in the summer.

When horses are arriving in horse-trailers the trailers should be parked, to allow easy access to the rest of the parking area by other park users. To enable the park commission to monitor the amount of horse riding and facilitate communications with riders, perhaps a (park system wide) permit could be issued to horse owners for their horses.

Horse owners would be required to renew the permits every three years. A description and/or a photograph of the horse should be included in the application so that horse riders who do not obey the recommendations can be identified.


This area has had a long history of hunting. As Bridgewater becomes more built out there will be less opportunity for hunting. The build out often creates ideal habitat for white tailed deer. With the decreased hunting, deer populations will and are increasing to the extent that there is an overpopulation of deer.

This is not only increasing the number of car accidents involving deer but the increased deer browsing is severely altering the fields and forests resulting in less habitat for wildlife. This is severely affecting many bird populations.

It is difficult to manage an area for passive recreation as well as hunting but if deer populations are not kept under control the whole habitat of the conservation park will be severely degraded. Therefore, it is suggested that the park be closed to all activity except for deer hunting on the first four days of the shotgun deer-hunting season each year.

Notices should be posted around the park perimeter and at the entrance that the park is closed except for hunting. In the event that this is not enough to keep the deer population under control, the hunting season could be extended to include the first four days of the bow and black powder seasons. Note that hunting is illegal on Sundays in Massachusetts and that Sundays should not count as part of the four days.

The Park Commission may consider extending the hunting periods at Wyman Meadow and opening the park to the public during hunting with adequate warning that there is hunting taking place. The hunting of other species should only be considered if there is overpopulation of that species. Visitors should be aware that hunting may 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 far more suitable ice-skating areas within the park system such as Carver's Pond.

Mountain Biking

This is an ideal area for mountain biking although connections with other riding areas would be desirable. Riders should be encouraged to stay on the trails especially in grassland areas during nesting season.(May 15- August 15)The wet meadows and flood plain meadow will also be susceptible to damage from mountain bike riders especially if the ground is wet and soft, therefore, riders should be requested not to ride in these areas unless they are frozen solid or have completely dried out in the summer.


The park offers many opportunities for picnicking. Visitors should stay close to trails during the nesting season.(May 15- August 15)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. They should not be permitted on grassland areas during nesting season (May 15- August 15).


The park has an ideal hill for sledding, although it is over 1000 feet from the parking area. Situated on the east side of the knoll the top of the slope is moderately steep (10-20%) with a long open field that is only somewhat steep (5-10%) the whole "run" is approximately 300 feet long.

Looking Northeast from the Sledding Hill


The river has a slow current for most of its length. Swimmers swim at their own risk. There is no easy access to the river for emergency vehicles.


At first glance, a campsite down by the river appears to be idyllic. The major restriction is the safe disposal of solid human waste. This can be done by the use of randomly located catholes, however they need to be 200 feet from any trail, campsite, pond, stream, or river and out of the 400-foot well protection zone.

The cathole needs to be 6 to 8 inches deep and covered after use. This only leaves an area approximately 200 x 400 feet along the interior of the western border of the oak forest as a suitable cathole repository. The area that is suitable for catholes should be designated and campers should be informed. Camping needs to be restricted to one campsite and the number of nights of camping per week restricted.

A fire pit could be placed in the area that is currently being used for fires. Although this is close to the river if a different place is used for the fire pit it will probably be ignored and fires still made at the original location. All vegetation should be removed for a distance of three feet around the fire pit. Depending upon use, the amount of dead wood available for firewood may be limited. Campers must not be allowed to damage standing trees.

Tents could be placed in the field within a short distance of the fire pit; there is enough space to move tents around to decrease the impact they have upon the site. If this site is found to be wet tents placed further away from the river will be drier as the soil is well drained in this location.

A maximum of four tent permits should be issued by the Park Commission per week. If damage is occurring to the site, this number may have to be decreased. If warranted, site monitors may be needed in a similar fashion as in the Titicut Conservation Area. No vehicles are allowed in this area; all camping provisions must be carried in with a canoe, mountain bike, or backpack.

Universal Access

All of the trails could be universally accessible if desired.

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