CHARLESTOWN — A special opening ceremony is set to take place Sunday at Charlestown’s new Patricia Sprague Forest Preserve.
The 27-acre property off Railroad Avenue is one of six town-owned open-space properties managed by the town’s Conservation Commission, totalling about 425 acres.
A new gravel parking area and sign greet visitors to the preserve, which abuts 1,600 feet of the Pawcatuck River.
“It’s just a beautiful piece of property,” Conservation Commission Chairwoman Grace Klinger said.
Key features include a floodplain forest, vernal pools, kettle ponds and a “hummocky, high-relief glaciated landscape,” according to the commission’s new glossy brochure on the properties.
Springs, forested uplands, a 3-acre meadow and one-acre hay field bordered by a few old apple trees also highlight the parcel.
“Once you get in there it opens to a field and then goes down to the river,” Klinger said. “There’s a lot to it. It’s not just a big open space.”
It’s also teeming with life such as turkeys, deer, coyotes, hawks and small animals like woodchucks.
A trail connects with an existing dirt road that travels through the property and connects with other trails, including one overlooking the river.
“We do all the trailwork with the help of a large group called the Friends of Conservation,” Klinger said. “We welcome volunteers at any time.”
A kiosk will offer information about the trails and a map.
The ribbon-cutting event will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, rain or shine, and is open to the public. State and local officials also have been invited.
Patricia Sprague lived in a home on a lot next to the open-space property, which the town acquired from her son, Mark, in 2016.
“This was always her vision, that it become a preserve,” Klinger said. “(Mark) has been very helpful to the commission and given us a lot of help with the trail work, so we are kind of indebted to him. He’s definitely a friend of conservation.”
The Charlestown Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the property.
The land trust received a Department of Environmental Management grant for $258,000, and the town used $341,000 from its open-space fund to jointly complete the purchase.
“We’re very fortunate in the amount of open space we have in this town, and how well-cared-for it is,” Klinger said.