Multiple PIE-Rivers partners culminated years of work when the headwaters of the Castle Neck River in Ipswich were permanently protected earlier this spring. The Pony Express Farm, with its 128 acres of rolling land and riverfront, has been saved from development. Previously owned by the Daniels family, the farm borders Route 133 and Candlewood and Chebacco Roads near the border of Ipswich and Essex.
With nearly a mile of frontage on the Castle Neck River, along with associated wetlands, the conservation of this land will help protect the water quality of the 25,000-acre Great Marsh Ecosystem.
The property was identified as highly important for protection by a marsh adaptation regional prioritization completed during the Great Marsh Resiliency Planning Project.
The Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game used funds from a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant along with State funds to acquire approximately 55 acres of the property. The new property, including wetlands and nearby upland, will be called the Castle Neck River Wildlife Management Area. It will be managed as wildlife habitat and open to the public for wildlife-dependent recreation.
The Essex County Greenbelt Association (ECGA) worked with the Town of Ipswich to protect the entire 128-acre former polo farm. Ipswich Town Meeting voted to approve funds from its municipal open space bond, adding much-needed athletic fields while preserving an irreplaceable agricultural and natural resource. The prime farmland soils on the Greenbelt property will be preserved for agriculture use as hayfields, with public access. The Town of Ipswich will manage 30 acres as recreational playing fields, and ECGA will own and manage approximately 30 acres for hay fields. Greenbelt is working with the Town of Ipswich on property management, hoping for a late spring public opening.
Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman/EcoPhotography