Marblehead Conservancy creating new wildflower meadow, taking care of trails

Marblehead’s Lead Mills Conservation Area is 4.2 acres that includes trails that cross open fields with views of the Salem Harbor. Photo by Libby O'Neill

A new wildflower meadow is being made by the Marblehead Conservancy at the Lead Mills conservation space.

The Conservancy is currently in the process of clearing the weeds in the area so seeds can be planted.

“The trick is to get rid of the weeds and then you go back in with wildflower seeds, which are also native,” Conservancy President Robert French said.

However, it is not as simple as it may sound. French said getting rid of the weeds has proved to be difficult, as the field is filled with hardy weeds that have deep roots.

“We took 45,000 square feet of the property and we divided it into three plots,” French said. “We have worked on two of them so far and the third one we’re just holding as it is.”

He added that the difficulty of clearing the weeds has prompted them to bring in a consultant at the end of March to discuss better ways of handling them.

The Conservancy is also the group that takes care of all the trails in town. Those include Lead Mills, Wyman Woods, Hawthorn Pond, Jermyn Farm, and others.

“We keep the trails open year-round so we deal with fallen trees, washouts, falling rocks,” French said. “We’re keeping the trails clear and open.”

Traffic on the trails increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, causing the trails to wear down. There were now many tripping hazards, such as exposed rocks and tree roots, along the paths.

The Conservancy went in to fix this problem with the help of wood chips from the town.

“We spread them on the trail so that helps cover the tripping hazards, but it also protects the roots and the trees and bushes and so forth,” French said.

The group walks along trails on Saturday and Wednesday to observe and clean them. Keeping care of them is the reason the Conservancy was formed in 2001, French said.

“The people found that the trails were grown-in, washed-out, in the wrong place, and so forth,” French said. “So a group of people got together and said, ‘We can do something about this,’ and that’s how we started.”

Now all these years later, the Conservancy is still working to take care of Marblehead’s green spaces.

In addition to making the wildflower meadow and maintaining the trails, the group has recently been gearing up for their annual meeting at the beginning of spring, in which they will have a guest speaker come talk.