PEPPERELL -- The Prudence Wright Overlook project is a dedication to Pepperell's rich history, but it is also a conservation habitat.
That, says Covered Bridge Committee Chairman Diane Cronin, is why there is a lack of mowing. Licenses and conditions regarding the use of the land come from the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, who own the parcel. Even though there are site restrictions, the CBC is moving forward with additional projects on the site, according to Cronin.
"Fisheries and Wildlife has instructed us to create a natural habitat there, and we have tried to seed the area to introduce native species," she said.
Instead towering weeds and other invasive species have taken over, largely blocking the view of the Overlook and it's elements from the road. Many of the complaints regarding accessibility, visibility and safety are being addressed, Cronin said, but they take time.
"Last year we had some success planting native grasses, Black-Eyed Susan and Oxeye daisies," she said. "But this year the seeds came back weaker and the weeds, stronger."
eScapes Corp. of Pepperell have been donating groundkeeping services. Fisheries and Wildlife allows a foot trimming pattern on either side of the foot path and around the historical elements. Both eScapes and the Covered Bridge Committee work on weeding the site too, Cronin says, but, with the dry heat and vigorous vegetation, no amount of work will allow the place to look perfect.
But they are not stopping, Cronin says the Covered Bridge Committee is committed to making the site more visible, safe and inviting so people can enjoy the area's historical significance and also recognize the donors that made it possible.
In June of 2013 the license agreement between Fisheries and Wildlife and the town is up for renewal and Cronin says the committee will be looking at seed solutions and adding some other elements to the area. In addition, local plant expert Lorna Levi has been volunteering to help the site.
"She's very knowledgable on native plants, and Fisheries and Wildlife has agreed to let us work with her recommendations," Cronin said. "She is a sweet, older owman who loves plants, and she has even been helping to pull and cut weeds."
Cronin said Levi will be transplanting live native plants out of her garden to promote growth and introduce new species so they can take hold.
At the end of fall 2011 the committee erected a donors monument. Donors who helped to kickstart the project with $75 donations are listed on a golden plaque affixed to a granite stone. A new round of engraved bricks, which feature names and dedications inscribed by donors, were placed earlier this year as well.
Groton-based Colonial Stoneyard also donated natural-looking granite boulders to mark driveway boundaries.
A wooden footbridge is also being considered for the license renewal, Cronin said. After receiving a donated one, the committee is planning to construct it over the swale between the Overlook and the sidewalk along Groton Street, which runs under the Covered Bridge.
Another effort to drive traffic to site is an attempt to get signage approved for the rail trail in Railroad Square. A sign has already been donated, according to Cronin, and the project is being done in conjunction with the Historical Commission.