Dr. R. Iacobucci, Executive Director
Nature Preserve Inc.
Pembroke, Massachusetts

 Dear Dr. Iacobucci,

     At the outset let me thank you for the guided tour of the Nature Preserve.  On the way down from Hingham I wondered how
your Preserve might compare to other preserves, forests, and parks I have studied.  I find it necessary to believe
in what I write about so would not agree to accept a study or write a statement regarding any open space which I thought less than worthwhile. 

     I returned to the Preserve early on Memorial
Day spending a grand two hours exploring every off trail nook and cranny. 

What I observed and experienced during those
two hours inspires me to report to you that the Nature Preserve is all and more
than the name suggests.  Those two hours
were, to say the least, a unique experience.
Robinson Creek and the expansive panorama of tidal marshes is the
Preserve’s highpoint which pulls all the other variable attributes into a
cohesive and rewarding outdoor experience.
The Nature Preserve is, without a doubt, a local and regional treasure
containing an uncommon variety of plant communities and wildlife habitats
compacted into a relatively small tract of seventy acres. 

I can confidently write that I have never observed so many species of

bird life and other wildlife or signs of wildlife in
such a short period of time (two hours)  on such
a relatively small tract of land in all my years of exploring

New England open spaces.


    As I previously stated the Nature Preserve contains an uncommon variety of plant
communities within a relatively small area.
Each distinctive plant community contains specific plants that are
attracted to the site because of specific conditions such as, but not limited
to, soils, wetness, dryness, exposure, etc.
This variety of plant communities ensures a wide variety of wildlife
food plants and habitats.  This variety
and balance attracts an uncommon variety of wildlife strengthening the thesis
that this tract of land is finely tuned to be a truly credible Nature
Preserve.  The variety of plant communities
and their statements in conjunction with the astonishing variety of wildlife
underscores the fact that this relatively small tract of land contains all the
ingredients necessary for a full and valuable educational experience. 

I know of no other local open space where
school children could walk over a relatively short distance and come into
contact with such a variety of situations that could be skillfully utilized to
promote environmental awareness. 


Plant communities  which I have identified:  

1.      Tidal Marsh Community

2.      Tidal Creek Community

3.       Fresh Water Marsh Community

4.      Stream Bank Community

5.      Pond Community

6.      Shrub Swamp Community

7.      Wooded Swamp Community

8.      Flood Plain Community

9.      Hilltop, Midslope, & Low Slope


10.    Sand Plain Community

11.    Meadow and Succession Field


12.    Burned Woods Succession Community


The burned woods and sand plain communities present the educational potential for
observing the successive stages of natural revegetation after catastrophic
disaster.  These two communities are “frosting on the cake” in relation to the Nature Preserve attributes.

  The burned woods area contains many prostrated, decomposing hulks of White Pine

as well as several still standing.  Both those standing and those prostrated are
wildlife communities unto themselves.
The standing hulks of old fire killed pine attract several species of
birdlife that feed on insects and grubs within the rotting wood as well as
providing nesting space for several woodpecking species.


     The “Sand Area” or sand plain is in actuality a sand/gravel borrow site that now is a
hostile desert-like environment as far as most native plant species are
concerned, yet still there are several species that have established
substantial colonies in the first succession period.  The contrast between the “barren wastes” of
the Sand Area and the serene, picturesque scene of the adjacent pond is
startling.  Several species of turtle
move out of the pond and creek to lay eggs in the sandy soils of the Sand
Plain.  Although the Sand Area is the
result of mankind’s commercial enterprise, it most likely represents the
condition of much of New England after the glaciers scoured the surface some
10,000 years ago.  One hundred years from
now the Sand  Area will be covered with a
heavy growth of trees and shrubs.
Reforestation can be accelerated by the spreading of wood chips, tree
prunings, and other cast off vegetation over the Sand  Area.
This would introduce some shade from the scorching sun, increasing the
chance for germination and the survival of seedling trees and shrubs. 

The decomposing vegetation would also
introduce a layer of organic material on top of the naked sand. 

Erosion on the slopes would also be retarded.

     The Burned Woods Community and the Sand Plain Community add interest and strength to the
Nature Preserve Inc., for they provide dramatic educational opportunities
within a few yards of each other.


     The small pond community is the result of man damming a brook that rises west of Route
53.  The result is similar to what happens when beaver dam a stream. 

It creates an environment that attracts many species of wildlife.  This particular pond community is especially
suited to wildlife observation and educational pursuits because it is totally
accessible by circumferential trails, which trails also abut other communities
overlooking the pond.

  At the pond’s southwest end there is a shrub swamp and wooded swamp community. 

To the west there is an open meadow  community, while to the northwest a pine woods covers a hillside. 

To the immediate north there is an old
reforested borrow area, while to the northeast, below the dam, there is a
streambank and wooded swamp community.
To the southeast, of course, there is the Sand Area Community.  All these environments can be experienced
without leaving the circumferential pond trail.
Here, along a roughly circular 200 yard trail from the dam around the
pond back to the point of beginning, there exists a truly dynamic,
multi-faceted educational and recreational opportunity.  This panorama of plant communities coming
together, as they do, about the pond represent a variety of wildlife habitats
and food sources which is the essence of a viable Nature Preserve.

     An interesting local geological attribute is a glacial outwash plain roughly
contained within an area bounded by Route 53, Briggs Cemetery, a portion of
Robinson’s Creek, an old wood road to Pleasant Street and the westerly half of
Pleasant Street.  The southwesterly
portion of Water Street nearly bisects the glacial outwash plain in half.  A small portion of the plain is in the
preserve.  The Sand Area (so called) is a
part of the outwash plain.  Fortunately, the
most dramatic portion of  the outwash
plain, identified by steep slopes that rise abruptly sixty or seventy feet over
Robinson Creek, have survived.  Views
from the outwash plain terrace over Robinson Creek, the marshes, and beyond
Route 139 to the North River floodplain are extensive and dramatic.  The sudden variances in topography from
Robinson Creek to the outwash plain terrace only adds dimension and quality to
the variable qualities of the Nature Preserve Inc.  Another attribute of the outwash plain is the
white pine climax forest that covers the terrace and a part of the slopes.  When the colonists settled Massachusetts Bay
and before the virgin stands of white pine forests were harvested it was
typical to see vast stands of white pine, some of immense height and girth,
growing on the sandy soils often found along the river valleys.  The stand of pine on the preserve’s outwash
plain is, in small measure, representative of the pre-settlement period.  Some of these pine, if they survive the
elements, will continue to grow to great size for centuries yet to come. 

At the base of the outwash plain along
Robinson Creek bountiful springs of clear, pure water pour out of water bearing
till of the outwash plain.  The spring
brooks abound with wildlife.  I noted the
tracks of fox, raccoon, and other small mammals as well as numerous birds and
amphibians.  In my opinion the glacial
outwash plain, the steep slopes, the numerous springs, distinctive views, and
climax white pine forest are a cohesive unit of importance within the Nature


     There are other notable environments within the Nature Preserve - a climax forest of
pine, oak and hickory way in the north most corner; a tiny, secluded wet meadow
alive with warblers the day I came upon it; a field of wind blown grass with
hawks soaring over head and an owl in the big oak near the fence row; a
hillside pasture now succeeding slowly to forest but where there are still
apples, pears, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, wild strawberries, and
bittersweet; but the most notable feature in the entire preserve may be a tiny
hillside sand hollow where the truly rare Prickly Pear Cactus has gained a
foothold – the only specimen I have ever seen in Massachusetts.  Is this a state endangered species?

 { NOTE:  The cactus is no longer to be found in 2014 } 

      The  highpoint of the Nature Preserve is the mouth of Robinson Creek and the wide
expanse of tidal marsh.  Here the sea,
although somewhat diluted, and Pembroke meet.
This rich tidal creek is a place where creatures orientated to the sea
intermix with those that dwell inland. 

I think it fair to state that  Robinson Creek, the tidal marsh, and the adjacent uplands

and wetlands of the Nature Preserve represent one of the richest wildlife sanctuaries surviving in
Pembroke today.  

     Historically the Nature Preserve relates directly to the North River,
one of the most scenic and historic rivers in New England.  Nearby, at the north terminus of Brick Kiln
Lane was the famous Brick Kiln Shipyard.
The Briggs family was famous in the history of North River and, in fact,
one member wrote a History of Shipbuilding on the North River.  The historic
Briggs cemetery abuts the Nature Preserve protecting a part of the preserve’s
south flank from commercialization. 

It is said that prehistoric people lived within the preserve, occupying a part of
the outwash plain terrace overlooking Robinson Creek.  I am told that stone implements and a hearth
have been discovered here.  No doubt
there are other historic associations within the preserve, but to me the most
notable perception for this day is that the Nature Preserve protects, in a
natural state, a notable tract of land that overlooks and is a part of the
historic North River tidal plain.


1.      The Nature Preserve Inc. has
local and regional significance containing an uncommon variety of plant
communities and wildlife habitats
compacted into a relatively small area.

2.      The Nature Preserve Inc. contains all the ingredients

necessary for a full and  valuable educational and recreational experience.

3.      Robinson Creek, the tidal marsh, and the adjacent uplands and wetlands of

the Nature Preserve Inc. represent one of the richest and most variable wildlife

sanctuaries surviving in Pembroke today.

4.      The Nature Preserve Inc.
preserves in a natural state an outstanding tract of open space that overlooks
and, in fact, is a cohesive part of the historic, scenic North River tidal open

     I found the Nature Preserve to be a rich and variable experience.  I shall return many times in the future to
enjoy and to learn from what it offers.

         John P. Richardson


Nature Preserve Wildlife Report

A professional evaluation of the habitats and the wildlife they support.

















        All specimens observed on Memorial Day morning 1985.  This was one of the most lucrative observation walks I ever experienced.  The Nature Preserve was literally alive with birds.

Hairy Woodpecker                           Black & White Warbler
Cedar Waxwing                               Yellowthroat
White-throated Sparrow                   Pigeon Hawk
Worm-eating Warbler                      Robin
Tree Sparrow                                   Wood Thrush
American Kestrel                             Mourning Dove
Cardinal                                            Crow
Killdeer                                             Grackle
Common Merganser                          Great Horned Owl
Palm Warbler                                     Baltimore Oriole
Chipping Sparrow                              Mocking Bird             
Brown Thrasher                                 Golden Shafted Flicker
Mallard                                               Common Pigeon
Sandpiper ?                                         Scarlet Tanager
Indigo Bunting                                    Song Sparrow
Lesser ? Yellowlegs                            Canada Geese (4 in creek
Pine Warbler                                       Cow Bird
Marsh Hawk                                        Red Tailed Hawk
Downy Woodpecker                            Swamp Sparrow ?
Tufted Titmouse                                   Partridge
Whip-poor-will                                     Red Winged Blackbird
Wren                                                     Bank Swallow ?
White-breasted Nuthatch                  Woodcock
Field Sparrow    Hooded Warbler
Rufous-sided Towhee              Great Blue Heron
Blue Jay                                             Little Green Heron
Belted Kingfisher                              Egret
Pine Grosbeak                                   Herring Gull
Ruby-crowned Kinglet                      Barn Swallow
Eastern Phoebe                                  Blue-winged Teal
Catbird                                               Yellow-crowned Night
Chickadee                                                           Heron
Yellow Warbler                                  Eastern Kingbird


observed at Nature Preserve Inc., Pembroke, Mass.  May, 1985

American Chestnut
Red Oak
White Oak
Scarlet Oak
Bear Oak
Pin Cherry
Black Cherry
Red or Swamp Maple
Quaking Aspen
Grey Birch
American Elm
Sugar Maple
Flowering Dogwood   (3 specimens)
Pitch Pine
Swamp White Oak
Yellow Birch
Black Birch
Shag Bark Hickory
Red Cedar
Smooth Bark Hickory
Red Pine
Black Hawthorn
White Ash
Honey Locust
White Pine
Sugar Maple
Black Gum or Tupelo
Sycamore Maple (an escape at Sand Area)
White Birch
American Hornbeam
Slippery Elm
Bigtooth Aspen ?
Colorado Blue Spruce – A three or four foot specimen located on Robinson Creek floodplain near Preserve’s northeast corner.  This is the first time I have ever observed a Colorado Blue Spruce as an escape in such a remote location.  (Later I discovered another specimen at the northwest corner of the unnamed pond just north of the path intersection.)

*  Less than five specimens noted on the Preserve
**  Only one specimen noted on the Preserve
Observations by John P. Richardson




observed or signs of these creatures observed at the Nature Preserve Inc., Pembroke, Mass., May 1985

Red Fox – Much sign, at least two active dens with bird bones (fresh) scattered about, hair caught on brush near burrows, tracks, droppings, well defined trails.  Red Fox observed, 4:15 P.M., June 11, 1985.
Flying Squirrel ?
Raccoon  (tracks observed at Robinson Creek)
Opossum  (tracks observed at the Sand Area)
Chipmunk  (observed)
Grey Squirrel  (observed)
Red Squirrel  (observed)
Woodchuck  (observed)
Cottontail  (observed)
Skunk  (tracks observed at Robinson Creek)
Mink  (observed at Howard Pond dam site)
Muskrat  (three observed at Robinson Creek)

Painted Turtle  (observed)
Spotted Turtle  (observed)
Snapping Turtle  (remains of shell observed at Howard Pond)
Bull Frog  (observed)
Leopard Frog  (observed)
Green Frog  (observed)
Toad  (tiny young toads observed; also tadpoles)
Spotted Salamander  (observed)
Red-backed Salamander  (observed)

Fish Observed

Common Sunfish
Brook Dace
Herring  (in tidal portion of Robinson Creek)

Snakes Observed

Water Snake  (noted three specimens)
Garter Snake
Milk Snake


 observed  May 27, 1985

   Maple-leafed Viburnum
   Red  Chokeberry
   Sweet Pepperbush
   Withered Viburnum
   Staghorn Sumac
**  Mountain Laurel  (1 plant)
   Smooth Sumac
   Sheep Laurel
 *Russian Olive  (escape)
   Flowering Crabapple  (escape)
   European Barberry  (escape)
   Common Barberry
   Honeysuckle Bush  (escape)
   Highbush Blueberry
   Lowbush Blueberry
   Swamp White Azalea
**Poison Sumac
 * Wingbark  (Euonymous)  (escape)
    Pussy Willow
    Lilac  (escape)
    Japanese Bamboo
    Alternate-leaf Dogwood
    Red-osier Dogwood
    Witch Hazel


    &  VINES

 observed on May 27, 1985

    Stinging Nettle                                 Chicory
    Field Mouse-ear Chickweed            Plantain
    Pink Lady Slipper                             Ragweed
    Wintergreen                                      Pigweed
    Starflower                                         Timothy
    Ground Cedar                                    Smooth Crabgrass
    Pokeberry                                          Goldthread
    Pachysandra  (escape)                       Bladder Campion
    Partridge Berry                                  Moneywort
    Bunchberry  (C. canadensis)             Sneezeweed
    Spreading Dogbane                           Rattlesnake Weed
**Birdfoot Violet                                  Seaside Goldenrod
    Blue Flag                                           Sweet Goldenrod
    Ginseng                                              Curly Dock
    Wild Sarsaparilla                               Common Speedwell
    Solomon’s-seal                                  Blue Toadflax                           
    False Solomon’s-seal                         White Lettuce
    Swamp Dewberry                               Swamp Loosestrife
    Wild  Strawberry                                Pale Corydalis
    Goldthread                                          Dog Violet
    Marsh Marigold                                  Lady’s Thumb
    Sweet Fern                                          Herb Robert
    Royal Fern                                       * Wood Lilly
    Jack-in-the-pulpit                                Wild Oats
    Skunk Cabbage                              * *Trout Lily
    Wild Geranium                                    Celandine
    Twin Flower                                        Dodder                             
    Moth Mullein                                      Yarrow
    Common Buttercup                             Boneset
    Blue Vervain                                        Milkweed
    Arrowhead                                           Pickerel Weed
    Early Meadow Rue                              Spotted Joe-Pye Weed
    One Flowered Cancer Root                 Pinesap
    Ground Joy                       Swamp Candles
    Hedge Bindweed              Cynthia or Dwarf  Dandelion                        
    Swamp Buttercup             Golden Ragwort or Squaw-weed
    Multi-flora Rose                Rattlesnake Plantain  (11 plants)
    Virgins Bower                * Pipsissewa or Princes Pine
    Tall Meadow Rue              White Violet  (V. blanda)
    Pearly Everlastings            Duckweed  (pond plant)
    Shinleaf                              Red and White Clovers
    Canada Mayflower            Thistle
    Indian Pipe                         Nightshade
                                               Yellow Pond-lily or Spatter Dock
    White Daisy                        Prickly Pear  (Opuntia  ? )
    Water Lilly      

    Purple Trillium                   Spotted Wintergreen                  
    Meadow Sweet                 
    Wood Anemone                   Blue Vetch                           

    Monkey-flower                    Self-heal or Heal-all                                         

   Wild Geranium or Wild Cranesbill  (scarce on the Preserve)
   Star of Bethlehem  (escape)
   Wild Carrot
*  Cardinal Flower
    Toadflax or Butter and Eggs
    Hardhack or Steeple Bush
    Woodbine or Virginia Creeper
    Swamp Evergreen  (Lycopodium lucidulum)
    Ground-Pine  (Lycopodium dendroideum {obscurum})
    Common Wood Fern
    Royal Fern
    Common Brake or Eagle Fern  (Woodwardia angustifolia)
**Wisteria  (escape)
    Grapevines  (noted two species, at  least)
    Four leaf Loosestrife
 * Indian Cucumber Root
    Day Lilly  (escape)
    Common Cinquefoil
    Wild Columbine  (one patch – eight or ten plants noted)
    Sheep Sorrel

*    Less than five specimens noted at the Preserve
**  Only one specimen observed.