Art Millikin steps down
Reflections on open site management
Annual Meeting at Clark Farm
An Evening for Estabrook Woods
Progress on Benfield
Remembering Vivian

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CCF Directors

Alan Ankers
Barney Arnold
Liz Carpenter
Wayne Davis
Marjie Findlay
David Freedman
Peg Gladstone
Heidi Harring
Steve Hinton
Lori Jiménez
Jamie Klickstein
Lynn Knight
Jay Luby
Greg Peterson
Scott Simpson
Steve Spang
Sally Swift
Steve Tobin

P.O. Box 300
Carlisle, MA 01741




December 2004


Reflections on Open Space Management

Sheepherding demonstration at Towle Field Light-dappled trail in the Estabrook Woods

For the past 4 years, the Carlisle Conservation Foundation has sponsored sheep grazing as a test in land management and control of invasive species. From May to October, the wooly creatures, hundreds of them, have visited Towle Field and the Spencer Brook Reservation. No conservation and land management effort in Carlisle has been as popular and eye-catching as the flock of sheep, peacefully grazing on these fields. We are reminded pleasantly of our agrarian past. It is time to take stock. Both fields look much better and healthier. The far westerly corner of Towle Field, formerly often overgrown and weed-filled, is now close-cropped with grasses thriving. Sheep grazing clearly reduces thatch, allowing grass to grow which tends to stifle weeds. The classic stone walls, in the past buried in poison ivy and impossible to mow along with mechanical tools, are now visible. Invasive buckthorn has been subdued, but not conquered.

Maintaining a flock of sheep on these fields from May to October costs $20,000. The expenses include the care and protection of the sheep, the shepherd, the dogs, fencing, watering, and transportation. The generous response of Carlisle residents to our fundraising appeals and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s grant for wildlife habitat improvement reduced CCF’s net expense to approximately $10,000. Still, this represents a large chunk of our annual budget of $25,000; CCF has concluded that we cannot support this ongoing expense without sizeable contributions from other sources.

Our next steps include: 1) the review and publication of the sheep grazing study data collected by CCF and colleagues at Minuteman National Park, and 2) working with Carlisle’s Conservation Commission and other interested citizens to develop an effective, financially feasible land management plan for Towle Field and Spencer Brook Reservation. One imperative is mowing twice a year.

In summary, a commitment of ongoing funding and regular management is required to maintain open spaces as places to enjoy passive recreation and rural vistas.

Art Milliken