A green heron stalks the swamp at the Thompson Preserve, a conservation property owned by Opacum Land Trust.
The Thompson Family Forever Wild Preserve is located on Eastford Road (Route 198), just south of Dennison Drive in Southbridge, Mass.
The loop trail is blazed with blue paint, and is about one mile in length. It begins at a small overgrown pasture along Eastford Road, where the sign and kiosk are. This pasture, which harbors stone walls, cedar fenceposts, barbed wire and massive old maple trees that line the road, has been cleared of non-native invasive species such as multiflora rose, oriental bittersweet, barberry and buckthorn. The trail crosses a small wetland at the rear of the pasture, then makes its way up an incline to an old logging road.
Here, the loop diverges. Going to the left, one follows the logging road. Listen for the springtime sounds of wood frogs and peepers chorusing from the vernal pool off to your right. The trail comes close to the property boundary, turning right and following an old stone wall which flows down a steep hill to a beaver pond. Skirting the edge of the wetland, the trail turns again to the right, and intersects with an access road for the Southbridge Water Supply. The trail follows the property boundary along the access road, and shortly turns to the right, up into the hemlock forest. The path leads back to the old logging road, follow the blue blazes back down the hill to return to the trailhead.
The Thompson Family Forever Wild Preserve is located across from 905 Eastford
Road as you head south on Route 198- look for the green sign which marks the
property. There is limited parking for a two or three cars. Please take a trail
map from the kiosk, and note the rules for using the property. If have any concerns,
please let us know by calling 508-347-9144 or e-mail.
The forty acre Thompson Lot was purchased by Opacum Land Trust, in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy in 2003. It is adjacent to approximately 2,300 acres of watershed land owned by the town of Southbridge.
The protection of this successional woodland was made possible by former owner and Southbridge resident Clyde Thompson. He generously offered the property to TNC and OLT using a conservation option known as a bargain sale, where a landowner sells property to a conservation group at less than fair market value. Mr. Thompson grew up on the farm, which he inherited from his parents, Roger and Elinor Thompson, who bought the land in 1952.
"There is a lot of habitat being lost to development, and I think it's important, and I hope other large landowners will see the importance, of keeping woodland as habitat," Mr. Thompson said. "We're looking forward to keeping this segment woods forever, so future generations will be able to enjoy the natural habitat and be able to see the wildlife at different times."
This stone wall runs along the loop trail. Trails at the Thompson Lot are open from Dawn to Dusk.
<ThompsonSigns3.jpg> During the summer of 2006, Opacum was able to install
a beautiful sign and a kiosk with maps & brochures at the Thompson Family
“Forever Wild” Preserve The donors, the Thompson Family, are very pleased. Our
volunteers did a magnificent job to make the property more presentable and accessible.
The Massachusetts Environmental Trust approved our request to redirect $5,000
in grant funds, and coupled with a $1,831.31 grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service, we were able to treat the invasive, non-native plants (Barberry, Glossy
Buckthorn, Multiflora Rose & Bittersweet) that had taken over the old pasture
and adjacent wetland at The Thompson Property. This area looks different now,
and with proper stewardship will become a healthy, habitat for wildlife.
Thanks to John Cloutier, of Globe Sign Company in Southbridge, for donating the sign.
September of 2004, a hard-working group of OLT volunteersdid a fantastic job clearing out & blazing the loop trail on the property.. If you are interested in volunteering, please call OLT at (508) 347-9144, or send an e-mail. Thanks for your support!
Contributions to the Thompson Family Forever Wild Preserve Stewardship Fund can be sent to:
Opacum Land Trust
PO Box 233
Sturbridge MA 01566