The Dawley Conservancy is made up of 42 acres of City of Fitchburg dedicated parkland. It features woodland on both sides of Seminole Highway and grassland/prairie adjacent to Dunn's Marsh on the west side of the highway. A dedicated group of volunteers has begun management efforts in this park, especially in the prairie section. In order to work in concert, City staff is currently drafting a natural resources management plan for the wooded area of the Dawley Conservancy to the east of Seminole Highway.
Check out the management area map to see the specific area in which this project is taking place.
Desired Future Condition: The wooded area of Dawley Conservancy will host an oak woodland plant community featuring an overstory of species such as bur oak, common hackberry, and shagbark hickory. The understory should be diverse and include grasses, legumes, composites, and other forbs that are best adapted to light conditions of highly filtered shade. The management to the extent possible within the limitations associated with its size, surrounding land use, and the available resources, will favor the large heritage trees. The forested area will be maintained for canopy cover that compliments recreational uses of the park, including walking trails, as well as wildlife interest. Non-native species abundance will be minimized to protect and encourage native flora and fauna throughout the park. Visitors to the natural areas of the parks have safe, educational, and recreational opportunities that enhance their understanding of the cultural and natural history of the Dawley Conservancy and surrounding lands.
Goal 1: Dawley Conservancy will host oak woodland plant communities featuring large oak, hickory, and common hackberry trees and an understory of native grasses, legumes, and forbs.
Goal 2: Multiple opportunities for education and recreation are provided to visitors.
Goal 3: Through landscape management and careful consideration of Conservancy boundaries, impacts to park neighbors are minimized.
Goal 4: Utilize external funding and partnerships whenever possible.
The Dawley woodlot that is the main focus of this project. It is very overgrown and difficult for people to walk through and enjoy. We plan to minimize non-native species abundance to encourage growth of native species within the oak woodland plant community. An additional hope of this project is to clear out and create a path to give people easier access to the nature within.
Volunteers have already started clearing out invasive buckthorn from the forest. Thanks to them, we are already starting to see native plants like Jack-In-The-Pulpit and Solomon's Seal popping up!
The prairie section of Dawley Conservancy to the west of Seminole Highway is in better shape than the wooded area as it has been managed by volunteers for a few years. They focus on minimizing non-native species, giving beneficial native ones room to flourish. To the right are a few of the native plants found in the prairie such as common milkweed, bee balm, compass plants, pale purple coneflowers, and rattlesnake master!