More trails to explore at Russells Mills Woods Reserve
Take a hike on the freshly opened Russells Mills Woods Reserve trails, located near 1048 Fisher Road.
The opening of the newly public woods was celebrated by Dartmouth Natural Resource Trust at a reception on July 13. The three families whose land makes up the reserve, donors, DNRT board members and town officials were all invited to the first walk-through.
Russells Mills Woods Reserve is across the street from Destruction Brook Woods, another popular DNRT preservation.
“When we open a property like this, DNRT is in the forever business,” said Nick Wildman, Executive Director of the trust. “So it is really cool to think that all of us here today are here for the first walk on these trails.”
The 36 acres of land that makeup Russells Mills Woods Reserve was bought by DNRT from three families with a mix of state funding, local community preservation funding and over 80 private donors.
“The properties were purchased by DNRT from the Fentress family in 2021, and from the Booth family and Saulnier family in 2002,” said Wildman. “Each had slightly different circumstances but all three wanted to protect this land in perpetuity.”
Harry Booth, who is a former owner of part of the reserve said that he did not want to see the property become a housing development, so he sold it to DNRT.
The woods have nearly a mile of trails open to the public. It offers two different loops through the property and one offshoot that holds a memorial bench donated by the Saulnier family. It is positioned to overlook the lush woods.
The trails pass by two prominent bedrock outcrops, which DNRT land manager, Linda Vanderveer, strongly encourages people to stay off of. She explained, the naturally occurring crevices on the rock structures are home to wildlife and slow-growing plants, all of which would be disrupted by close contact with people.
DNRT works to acquire land and assist landowners to preserve, protect and steward the acreage, as they have done in Russells Mills Woods. Making the point that protected land is forever safe from harmful development.
“It’s a commitment to what Dartmouth will look like in the future,” said Wildman. “It’s a commitment to the future, looking forward to climate change, looking forward to how our town is changing year by year.”
Stewardship is key to ensuring the functionality of land for both people to enjoy and nature to prosper, according to Wildman. This is what maintains trails and builds bridges among other maintenance.
For the Russells Mills Woods Reserve, both Booth and his wife Mary Ann volunteered to be stewards of the property.
“It’s not uncommon for former owners or neighbors to volunteer to be reserve stewards,” said Wildman. “To do so, you have to go through some training and commit to supporting DNRT’s work to keep the property tidy.”
People and their animals are welcome to explore the trails, bird watch, have picnics and ride bikes. There is enough room for about 12 cars in the parking lot.
To find out about land preservation or where to go for a hike in town visit DNRT.org