Inventory of Town-owned conservation lands and recreation lands
1. Cold Spring School
Cold Spring Conservation Area, situated behind the Cold Spring School on South Main Street, is home to a two-acre nature loop trail. The trail's small size and wide array of plant species affords educators a unique classroom and provides a variety of passive to active recreational opportunities.
Handicap access to, and parking for, the area is limited because there is a low area adjacent to the only potential car drop-off area. Although it would be possible to fill and level off the area, it would require extensive construction (and installation of a railing and ramp). However, because of its central location and relatively flat trails, it is a priority for the Town, particularly for senior citizen use.
2. Arcadia Bog
The Arcadia Spruce Bog Conservation Area, accessible via Town Beach Road, is one of the finest examples of a glacial kettle bog in Western Massachusetts. Noted for its uncommon and unusual botanical and zoological resources, human activity is restricted.
Because this area's main value is as a unique vegetative community and habitat, no plans are proposed to provide public access to this area.
3. Jabish Brook Conservation Area
Jabish Brook Conservation Area, the Town's main conservation area, is entirely forested, with a pristine stream, and slopes up eastward toward Quabbin Reservoir. There is a well-developed set of trails, and a footbridge crossing the brook. The area exhibits a unique variety of wildflower habitats.
Jabish Brook has potential for handicap accessibility to an overlook area near the entrance for picnicking and visual amenity. Also an area is possible for handicap parking. The steep slope leading to the stream limits access to the rest of the property. The Town has contracted with a landscape consultant to look at the possibility of safely ramping the descent and developing a proposal to make at least some portions of this area accessible to persons with disabilities.
4. Lashway Property
The Lashway property, located in the northwest quadrant of the Town, is a wooded and relatively flat parcel that has wetland areas and provides protection to some of the Town's groundwater resources. Open fields abound it to the east, Hop Brook to the south, and by more woods and wetlands to the west.
This property is located within the Lawrence Swamp aquifer. It was purchased as part of the aquifer protection measures the Town has implemented to ensure control over some activities within the watershed.
Access to the Lashway property will be possible from the proposed Rail/Trail bike path. If the bike path is made handicapped accessible, then this area too would become handicapped accessible. Access from Goodell Street is extremely limited because of a very precipitous drop at the entrance.
5. Wentworth Property
The Wentworth property was also purchased by the Town with Aquifer Land Acquisition funding and is located off Route 9 across from Holland Glen. A portion of the Metacomet/Monadnock Trail traverses this property. An alternative access is located on Federal Street.
Access from Route 9 exhibits a flat area near the road - where a possible pullover could be located. However, this entrance is very noisy and access to the M/M trail is very steep. At another location, there is a 100 foot long wooded road, which includes a possible turn-around, descending gradually to the brook. This area is very quiet and deserves priority status for handicap accessibility improvements. Access to this area from Federal Street is swampy around the entrance, but there may be possible access from the other side of the brook.
6. Warner Road
This is a large, unimproved parcel with no improved public access. Near the Quabbin Reservation, this area is largely forested wetland with a stream running through it. This area is a low priority for Town expenditures to provide accessibility to disabled persons.
7. Topping Farm Conservation Area
This 220-acre property is located in the northwest section of the town. It was purchased primarily because of its significance as aquifer protection land, benefiting the towns of Amherst, Pelham, and Belchertown. Hop Brook and its adjacent wetland bisect a major portion of the property. They recharge a major aquifer that underlies Lawrence Swamp and serves as a public water source for Belchertown and Amherst. The Topping Farm parcel is BioMap Supporting Landscape, buffering and almost connecting two large BioMap core habitats for the Lawrence swamp and the Holyoke Mt. Range. The Massachusetts Natural Heritage Program's list of endangered and rare species documents numerous species to be found on the site. Two small parking lots are located on Goodell St. and Orchard Rd. for public access and old logging roads traverse the property for hiking.
8. Reed Property Conservation Area
This 93-acre parcel, located on Gold St., is Belchertown's was purchased on May 7, 2002.The main goal for this land acquisition was to protect the Jabish Brook, to maintain the water quality and wildlife habitat capacity of this brook. This property is adjacent to Knights Pond, which are the headwaters for the Jabish Brook.
This property already contains an extensive network of trails throughout the entire parcel that can be utilized for hiking, skiing and other passive recreation activities. A 2-acre pond is located on Lot #10.00, easily accessible by car, which is located within the area the Conservation Commission wants to develop into a picnic and fishing area. The Reed property provides the Town and the surrounding community with a conservation area, which has handicapped accessibility, the first in the area. This property is contiguous with other open space areas and will provide a greenway, connecting lands owned by Springfield Water District and the Cadwell Memorial Forest, located in Pelham, which is owned by the University of Massachusetts and is home to Mt. Lincoln.
9. Scarborough Brook Conservation Area
This 69-acre parcel, located on Gulf Rd. was purchased in June 2007. The main goal for this land acquisition was to protect and maintain this property as open space, primarily because of its significance as aquifer protection land, benefiting the towns of Amherst and Belchertown. The 69 acres of forestland, fields and ponds contain the headwaters of Scarborough Brook, which feeds directly into the Lawrence Swamp, recharging a major aquifer that serves as a public water source for both Belchertown and Amherst. Scarborough Brook discharges directly within the aquifer recharge area (ZONE 11) for the Daigle Well, a primary source of drinking water for Belchertown.
10. Holyoke Range End Conservation Area
This 53-acre property is located on the west side of town and at the foothills of the Holyoke Range. This was a gift to the town from the developer of Emily Lane, Partyka Partners, LP. This conservation area has a substantial old beaver bog and hiking trails linking to the Holyoke Range. There is public parking at the end of Emily Lane.
11. Holland Glen Conservation Area
Belchertown's newly acquired conservation area in 2011. This 290 acre property within the Holland Glen area, located off Route 9, contains a steep hillside with waterfalls, scenic vistas and a popular place for hiking. The Massachusetts Natural Heritage Program’s list of endangered and rare species documents the following; wood turtle, a species of special concern to be found on or near the site. More importantly, the Holland Glen forest parcels are Bio-Map Supporting Landscape, buffering and connecting two large BioMap core habitat, the Quabbin Reservoir and the Mt. Holyoke Range. Rolling terrain of unbroken upland forest including stands of mature oak, white pine, maple and hemlock cover the vast majority of this property. As such, the property provides habitat for more common species of wildlife, such as black bear, moose, deer, turkey, otter and bobcat.
The conservation goal for this property is to protect a large tract of contiguous forestland as a town forest. This property is also adjacent to about 120 acres of already conserved land, including Holland Glen, owned by the Belchertown Historical Society and Wentworth Conservation Area, and several hundred acres owned by Cowls Land Company, which are under Chapter 61.