EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 18, 2014

Nonprofits strive to preserve a 'magical place'

Efforts would keep Four Rock property as open space

NEWBURY — A piece of land that for centuries has been of great significance to the people of Newbury will be protected if a partnership between two local nonprofits succeeds.

The 28-acre property, Four Rock, named for a colonial road, functions as the outdoor classroom of Boat Camp Nature School and includes the historic Devil’s Den quarries.

Together with Essex County Greenbelt Association, a champion of conserving farmland, wildlife habitat and scenic landscapes, they are now on the path to secure the parcel for future generations.

The effort kicked off at the recent Boat Camp Bash with a $50,000 challenge from an anonymous donor, leaving the two organizations to complete a $100,000 fundraising campaign.

“This is incredibly important to me,” said Kate Yeomans, executive director and co-founder with her husband, Rob Yeomans, of Boat Camp. “We both grew up in Newbury and to know going forward that kids will forever be able to explore that landscape is something I’m very excited about.”

David Santomenna, director of land conservation at Greenbelt, said helping Boat Camp is an added bonus to the larger mission of protecting the parcel from future development.

“We can’t do this without funding partners,” Santomenna said. “This has been in the planning stages for a couple of years, so I’m very pleased it’s coming together.

“It’s a very different kind of property.”

Located at 82 Boston Road, it features a diverse habitat of maritime forest, a wet meadow, swamps, wetlands, quarries and a variety of migrating birds and native wildlife. The landscape is so unusual it has been identified as a priority habitat by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP).

It is also part of the larger Great Marsh ecosystem, ties in with previous Greenbelt acquisitions in the area and is the only location in the state where serpentine granite is found.

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