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The Common Pasture


The present day Common Pasture can he roughly considered to extend from Crow Lane and Hale Street in Newburyport to Turkey Hill Road in Newburyport and West Newbury and to Scotland Road in Newbury to the eastern branch of the Little River. The most important conservation values are these:

Scenic Vistas
Residents treasure the Common Pasture for its extensive vistas, including traditional haying and pastoral uses, and views of wildlife. The land is a gateway to both Newbury and Newburyport and its signature open landscape—unique in the greater Boston region—is enjoyed by thousands of commuters and visitors every day. The scenic value of the Common Pasture has also long been recognized by artists, including the noted 19th Century painter, Martin Johnson Heade in his work Newburyport Meadows.

Historical Significance
The Common Pasture has been designated a Heritage Landscape by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation in partnership with the Essex National Heritage Commission. This historic pasture dates back to the area’s original settlement in 1635, and large expanses of the original landscape remain undeveloped in a patchwork of open fields, working farmland, wooded uplands, streams, and wetlands. At the risk of being lost to residential and industrial development, the historic landscape was listed as one of Massachusetts’ “Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources” by Preservation Mass in 2004 under the direction of Preservation Planner Jessica Rowcroft of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, a professional consulting team has completed a Mass Historical Commission inventory form that documents the history and existing historic resources that define the character of this area, as a step toward seeking listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Priority and Core Habitat
The open land m the Common Pasture was designated as Priority Habitat by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Federal and state-listed species such as the upland sandpiper, American bittern, northern harrier. Long’s bulrush, spotted turtle, barn owl, and blue-spotted salamander have been documented m the area. In addition to providing habitat for these threatened and endangered species, the Common Pasture also supports a wide variety of wetland, grassland, and wooded upland plants and animals.


Because of the presence of a globally rare species, parts of the Common Pasture have also been designated as High Priority Core Habitat in the Massachusetts BioMap Project. The BioMap is a planning tool designed by Natural Heritage to provide guidance for land conservation by identifying exemplary natural communities and habitat for rare species, as well as landscape areas that buffer and connect habitat areas. Conservation of this area follows the guidelines suggested by the Massachusetts Bio Map.

Water Resource Protection District
The 2002 state Department of Environmental Affairs/Newburyport Water Department Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) reports recommends “the purchase of property within the surface water protection areas that is not currently owned by the Newburyport Water Department.” Protection of Zone B and C land helps protect the City’s drinking water and reduce the ongoing cost of treatment that could otherwise be required. In addition, conservation the Common Pasture provides for groundwater recharge.

Please see the Links and Files page for Natural Community Identification Workshop Materials


This page was last edited 09/05/2010

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