By MMRG Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns

 MMRG recently completed the purchase of our first conservation parcel, the 17-acre, ecologically important Branch River Conservation Area (BRCA), located in Wakefield between the villages of Union and Sanbornville. A few weeks after the purchase, we acquired additional land on the opposite bank of the BRCA, bringing the total area to 21 acres.

The 12-mile long Branch River is a headwater tributary system that receives water from Lovell Lake and streams that flow from the Moose Mountains Reservation. After flowing through the BRCA, Branch River continues through Union Meadows, then follows a southeasterly course, and discharges into the Salmon Falls River at Northeast Pond in Milton. The BRCA serves as a first link between the two conserved properties, the upstream Moose Mountains Reservation and the downstream Union Meadows. Conserving the BRCA advances MMRG’s mission to connect conserved lands and create natural corridors for wildlife and recreation.

The acquisition of the BRCA was well received. The response to our fundraising appeal for the purchase and stewardship of the BRCA was exceptionally positive, with generous gifts from year-round and summer Wakefield residents, and from new and long-time MMRG members. In June, the BRCA was a stop on the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative’s educational field trip for water quality professionals from government, planning and conservation groups. Part of the tour included MMRG’s presentation about the ecological values of headwater streams, as characterized by the BRCA. Click here to view our blog post with highlights of the BRCA’s conservation values and a site map.

I recently experienced firsthand the BRCA’s value as a wildlife and recreation corridor. On a warm Friday evening, my colleague Kari Lygren and I launched kayaks at the BRCA and discovered an ideal after-work paddle. The insistent call of redwing blackbirds and the melodic mating song of Baltimore orioles drowned out traffic noise from nearby Routes 16 and 153. When aggressive alder roots blocked our upstream paddle, we changed course and paddled downstream towards Union Meadows, where we saw a great blue heron foraging, an osprey soaring overhead, and a beaver’s impressively engineered dam.

The BRCA is open to the public. We hope that you will enjoy it and ask that you treat this important natural resource with care.