Overview and Ecosystem Characteristics:
lies in the communities of Groton and Ayer. Located in the
Southern New England Coastal Plains and Hills ecoregion2
of central Massachusetts, James Brook flows into the Nashua
River at the Ayer State Game Farm. The Groton town center
is located in the northern portion of this subbasin and Ayer
in the southern portion. Routes 111, 119 and 225 pass through
this subbasin. Streamflow, as in most of New England, has
significant seasonal changes3.
There is a interesting geologic feature in the eastern portion
of this subbasin known as a drumlin swarm a line of
glacially formed hills- which can be found few places in the
and Land Use4
Patterns: The land-use pattern is
36% forest (hardwood mixed with softwood) or wetland. Low-density
residential settlement as well as concentrated settlements
and strip development located near town centers and along
major roads account for 21% residential use. 21%, of total
land area is agriculture and/or open space (notably orchards
and country club/golf courses). Correspondingly, 11.3% of
total impervious surfaces5
namely, paved areas such as streets, driveways, and
parking lots for this subbasin indicates that issues
of compromised stormwater and other non-point sources of contaminants6
(for example: pesticides, fertilizers, oils, asphalt, pet
wastes, salt, sediment, litter and other debris) are an increasing
Resource Issues: James Brook is
classified as a Class B* waterbody. Its headwaters are in
Groton center from where it flows south through old fields
and agricultural areas. It parallels Old Ayer Road for about
a mile before heading west toward and through a residential
area. James Brook, though considered a perennial stream, is
prone to extended dry periods. Nonetheless, water quality
is good and has supported native trout in past years. (NRWA
Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Report, 2000) There are
no major water-bodies, no underlying aquifers, no major water
withdrawals, nor any NPDES*
permits in this subbasin. Polluted runoff and sedimentation
is an increasingly serious issue in rapidly developing communities.
and Priority Habitat Areas: Lawrence
Playground in Groton village is a public recreational area.
Nearly 3 ½ miles of the 12 mile-long Ayer to Dunstable
Rail Trail, owned and managed by the Department of Environmental
Protection, is located within this subbasin. The Rail Trail
is just being constructed as a combined bicycling, walking,
and bridle trail. Half-moon Swamp is a Town of Groton Conservation
Commission holding. New England Forestry Foundation's (NEFF)
Keyes Woods, and Groton Conservation Trust's Bates parcel
are two privately owned conservation holdings. Lawrence Academy
and Groton School are large institutions within this subbasin
which both have many undeveloped open space acreages. The
85-acre Priest Farm in Groton - through which James Brook
flow had an Agricultural Protection Restriction (APRs)*
purchased by the state Department of Food and Agriculture
(DFA). As for Chapter 61, 61A, or 61B - "current use"-type
tax reduction programs offered in Massachusetts which are
considered limited or temporary protection -- there are no
such enrolled properties in this subbasin.
More than three-quarters of this subbasin falls
within the proposed Petapawag Area of Critical Environmental
nomination. Similarly, the Department of Environmental Protection's
1983 Scenic Landscape Inventory Protect identified nearly
three-quarters of this subbasin as contributing "distinctive"
scenic character to the entire region. Others have also identified
this area as having special agricultural character, which
ought to be protected8.
Perhaps one-fourth of this subbasin, specifically
Indian Hills and Half-moon Swamp to the south of the hills,
is considered to be a Natural Heritage and Endangered Species
Project (MA NHESP) BioMap core area9.
There are three state-designated MA NHESP Rare Wetlands Wildlife
areas in this subbasin, which are designated Priority Habitat
areas as well. These are: 1) at the intersection of Higley
and Peabody Streets; 2) at Broadmeadow Swamp; and, 3) north
of Groton town center at the western base of Gibbet Hill.
Snake Hill is the one habitat protection focus
area identified in the Nashua River Habitat Assessment
Report (MAS, 2000), encompassing the Indian Hills area
in Groton. Straddling the Ayer-Groton border, this area contains
a diverse combination of uplands adjacent to extensive wetlands.
Powerline and gas rights-of-way provide movement corridors
and the network of swamps and marshy areas are likely important
undisturbed breeding habitat for multiple species.
Goals and Recommended Actions
GOAL: Protect wildlife
habitat and migration corridors in the subbasin.
- Sponsor local events to raise public understanding
about native wildlife and the impacts of development patterns
on ecosystem and habitat integrity.
- Work with local conservation commissions
to gain their backing of natural resource and habitat inventories.
- Develop "meadow management" plan
for hay fields and other fields that provide foraging areas.
GOAL: Protect high-priority open space, vistas,
and community character in the subbasin.
- Encourage the use of MA Executive Order 418*
funding for Open Space and Resource Protection Plans for
each Massachusetts community in this subbasin.
- Conduct public education sessions to promote
local passage of Community Preservation Act*.
- Work toward ideal of at least 25-50% protected
open space in each municipality. Educate and encourage landowners
as to benefits of Chapter 61, 61A and 61B tax abatement
- Work with municipal officials to develop
subdivision standards that require proponents to devote
at least 50% of land (not including already undevelopable
wet or steep land) for open space conservation and encourage
mixed-use development and cluster zoning by-right bylaws.
GOAL: Increase recreational opportunities
throughout the subbasin.
- Educate the public and municipal departments
(especially DPWs) on efforts relating to invasive species
identification and removal.
- Support efforts of the Squannassit Regional
(facilitated by the NRWA) and the Petapawag ACEC nomination
which encompasses much of this subbasin.
GOAL: Improve water quality in the subbasin.
- Assist Groton with its Clean Water Act-mandated
MS-4 Phase II Stormwater*
- Help develop and disseminate Best Management
Practices (BMPs) for small-scale, hobby type agricultural
- Identify any WMA*
withdrawals in this subbasin.
- Identify underground storage tanks (USTs)
and work to have them removed.
GOAL: Reduce potential negative effects of
some development in this subbasin.
- Help local volunteer board members responsible
for development and land-use rulemaking and enforcement
get technical assistance and information regarding techniques
to control/guide land use and development balanced with
adequate resource protection (e.g., Citizens Planner Training
- Increase or establish staff hours for
municipal conservation agents to more effectively monitor
construction sites runoff and assist with the preparation
of bylaws such as erosion-sedimentation controls.