Discover MRA’s newest trail and protected nature site

·3 min read

Meduxnekeag River Association will host an event Saturday morning, Nov. 27, to help attendees discover the value of becoming an MRA member and explore its newly acquired trail.

The MRA is holding an in-person membership drive, beginning at 11 a.m., at its new property at the end of Searle Street, behind the Dairy Queen, in Woodstock.

Holly Melanson, MRA's marketing and outreach coordinator, described the event as the association's first drive promoting annual memberships. She said MRA supporters could purchase the membership for $25 in-person at the event.

"The event will include prize draws and giveaways, as well as a walk on one of our trails," Melanson said. "Meet us at the parking lot of the newly acquired property located at the end of Searle Street (behind DQ) in Woodstock."

For those who can't make Saturday's event, Melanson said supporters could purchase memberships from the MRA website's online shop at www.meduxnekeag.org.

She said each member would receive an MRA 2022 bumper sticker.

Melanson said MRA's new 49-acre unique riverside property inside Woodstock town limits follows a recent partnership agreement with property owner NB Power.

She said the agreement would see MRA manage the property through a conservation easement to ensure protection from future development in perpetuity.

MRA administrator George Peabody said MRA officials are excited by the potential of the property.

"It is our only property within the town limits and also has the potential for a fully accessible trail," he said. "In addition, part of the easement agreement is for us to consult with the Wolastoqey community on management of the property."

Peabody said the property provides new opportunities for MRA, adding they are looking forward to working with the Wolastoqey community on the new project.

Melanson said a key feature of the property is a well-maintained 1.2-kilometre linear trail that provides beautiful views as it runs parallel to the Meduxnekeag River.

She said the property includes an extensive wetland and a forested area that provides essential habitat for various birds and small animals such as squirrels and snapping turtles.

"It is an easily accessible shared space where everyone can enjoy the magic of nature," Melanson said.

She said the trail is open for walking, running, birding, biking, and snowshoeing.

Melanson said the town of Woodstock previously maintained the trail, adding the MRA is currently in discussion with town officials in the hope it will continue to support conservation and maintenance of the property.

The newly acquired property inside town limits adds to the more than 1,000 acres of MRA's nature preserve located outside Woodstock. Most of the MRA-protected land sits in the Meduxnekeag River watershed.

Melanson said the new trail is unique to MRA as it doesn't own the land but protects through the conservation easement.

The newly acquired old trail in Woodstock is one of several maintained trails throughout the Meduxnekeag Nature Preserve.

Melanson said MRA operates six marked trails along the Red Bridge Road, west of Woodstock. Three of those run through the Wilson Mountain site, beginning at 260 Red Bridge Road. Users can access three trails to the Vandine Falls site nearby at 200 Red Bridge Road.

MRA also operates a marked trail off Plymouth Road and another off Bell Settlement Road.

Melanson said MRA's Bell Forest doesn't offer a marked trail, but a woods road allows people an opportunity to walk through the forest all the way to the Bell Settlement Road.

Melanson said the MRA hopes to add more land to the growing preserve in the future, but it remains unclear whether that means additional trails. She said the board would make that decision following the acquisition of any new properties.

Melanson explained that the membership drive and other MRA fundraising efforts help it protect this land, maintain the current trail systems, operate guided school tours and workshops, and add more protected land.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun

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