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Many Nature Trails in Attleboro
writes, "(written by Judee Cosentino for the Sun Chronicle)
Attleboro's network of nature trails, unknown to many who live in the area, can now be fully discovered and explored thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Attleboro Land Trust, Mass Audubon and the city’s conservation commission.
Those efforts, which spanned the course of almost three years, came to fruition on Saturday, July 17th, at the Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve on Wilmarth Street during the city’s first “Hike Attleboro Day.”
“From what I’ve heard from a lot of people, they don’t know how much open space we have in the city,” said Nick Wyllie, who is the city's conservation agent. “We want to show Attleboro residents that we have all these beautiful open-space properties for passive recreation.”
These 11 properties — a “network of trails,” as Hike Attleboro committee chairman Brian Hatch describes them — are spread throughout the city, from the Anthony Lawrence Wildlife Preserve on Hope Avenue to the Vaughan Memorial Forest on the south side of Steere Street.
Hatch, who is also on the board of directors for the Attleboro Land Trust, said he envisions “a whole ring around Attleboro of hiking trails.”
Between the three organizations responsible for creating Hike Attleboro, there are 2,000 acres preserved.
But for those driving through the city, whether they are lifelong residents or not, these networking trails are not always visible from the road, nor would many know they are there at all.
Additionally, at some preservation areas, it can be difficult to discern whether those places are private property and not open to the public for hiking.
However, with the 10 “Hike Attleboro” signs recently posted around each of the respective properties, that may well change.
“This is a tremendous asset for the city, to be able to connect all the parks and preserves for the city so people will know where they belong,” said Catherine Feerick, the city's Economic Development Director.
Even Wyllie, who grew up in Attleboro, admitted that he did not even know of those trails until he went to work for the conservation commission.
“It brings me a lot of joy to see the people in the city who are passionate about Attleboro’s natural resources and wanting to share them with current and future generations,” he said.
Felisha Marques of North Attleboro, an avid hiker, was herself amazed to know her neighboring town had many places for her to walk with her poodle, Calvyn.
It was also a plus for Marques to know that the Richardson Preserve is pet-friendly.
“It’s so nice to have (the network of trails) locally,” Marques said. “I think it’s’s a nice, quiet, clean environment, and very peaceful.”
Another pet owner, Kirk Steigler of Attleboro, also appreciated the pet-friendly aspect of the Richardson Preserve.
While Steigler has known of the preserve’s nature trails for some time, he said it was “wonderful” to live in a city that was full of such trails.
“It would be cool for those who live nearby in urban areas to come up and enjoy the nature trails here,” Steigler said.
Attracting more visitors to the city as it becomes a “greener place” was on the minds of Mayor Paul Heroux and state Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro.
“This is going to transform the way we live in, and the way we think about, our city,” Hawkins said.
At Saturday’s opening ceremony, Heroux ruefully recalled the real estate blog Movoto’s 2014 survey in which named Attleboro was named second in a rating of the 10 “Most Boring Places In Massachusetts.”
But now, with the addition of Hike Attleboro, Heroux is eager to turn that dubious distinction around.
“It’s the preservation of green space, and the opportunity for people to get out and recreate in their own city, because it’s good for health and the community,” Heroux said.
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