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Heald Street Orchard
Location: Heald St.
This 80-acre town-owned property was once a working apple orchard and still grows apples, although it is no longer maintained as such. Feel free to try some apple, but please be careful of the trees. Walk along grass lanes through the orchard, find the frog pond and look for turtles, and then follow the path down the hill and through the woods to a small, sandy opening on the back side of Heald Pond.
The orchard is past its prime for commercial fruit production; however, it still provides many benefits to the community, including water quality protection, wildlife habitat and recreation. The orchard landscape has been slowly reverting to early successional habitat. In the ever-changing landscape of succession, grasslands are overtaken by woody species developing into shrublands; tree species then spread seed and succeed into forest. Early successional habitat is declining in our region due to urbanization. Managing early successional habitat and diversity of landscape is becoming increasingly important for wildlife. The property is now being maintained as a mosaic (see map) of orchard, grassland and early forest habitats through active and passive management techniques with approximately 18 acres of apple trees being cut to create grassland habitat for the benefit of wildlife. (This project is funded through a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.)
Birds at the Orchard
Many grassland and early successional birds use this rich habitat for breeding, while other birds nest nearby and forage in the orchard. The Pepperell birding community has compiled an extensive list of birds found in the orchard. Birds with declining population trends are birds of conservation concern. View an extensive summary of birds observed in the orchard.
Some of the birds of conservation concern in the orchard are as follows:
- Baltimore oriole
- Black-billed cuckoo
- Blue-winged warbler
- Chimney swift
- Northern parula
- Red shouldered hawk
- Savannah sparrow
- Scarlet tanager
Directions: Go about 1.5 miles on Heald St. away from Pepperell Town Hall (corner of Main St. and Park St.). The orchard is on your left. The main entrance is on the western side of the Orchard: farthest away if you are coming from the town center. Look for the gate. Park on the side of the road, but not blocking the gate for the orchard.
Download a trail map of the orchard
If you have any information to add to the description of this or any other recreation parcel in Pepperell, or Conservation website related questions or comments, please contact the Conservation Commission.