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GROTON — With the Surrenden Farm property now secured, the Trails Committee is wasting little time making plans for public use of the land. That was one of the benefits of the purchase promised to residents when they voted to buy the property last year.

In particular, members of the Trails Committee are planning to create a trail network at the property that would incorporate existing paths and connect with others on nearby parcels. The network, when put together, would allow local hikers to access the larger trail system that exists all over town and beyond.

The Trails Committee was brought into the project by the Surrenden Farm Land Use Committee last year, to study the former farm as the site of a network of public walking trails, after the property was officially acquired by the town.

That acquisition finally happened at last year’s annual town meeting, after residents voted to approve the use of $5.65 million in CPA funds to pay the town’s portion of the $19.4 million total price for the 327-acre property.

Since then, the Land Use Committee asked the Trails Committee to conduct a survey of the property to determine where walking trails could be laid out for future use by the public, a task that is nearly completed.

At their meeting last Tuesday night, the Trails Committee learned that the layout of the proposed trail system at Surrenden Farm had been successfully marked out. A site walk by members would be scheduled soon to double-check the location of flags outlining the course.

Reporting on the proposed trail system, committee member Bruce Easom told fellow members that if the system was agreed upon, as is, then three bridges over local streams would need to be constructed.

For that, a meeting with the Conservation Commission would be required to which committee vice-chairman Paul Funch said he would try and get on the group’s agenda as soon as possible.

With guideposts, signage, and trail cutting needed before the trail system can be opened to the public, committee members hoped to receive the green light from the ConsCom and begin work on the project by June 30 and have the resulting trails open some time in July and completely finished by the end of the summer.

According to Funch, the proposed trail system at Surrenden Farms was determined based on existing trails and cart paths, how it would highlight the Nashua River, and to give better access to parking along Shirley Road.

Although connected to other networks on nearby parcels, the committee’s new trail system would be primarily located on the 165 acres owned outright by the town.

When completed, the trail system at Surrenden Farm will provide some of the most delightful vistas in the area helped by its frontage on the Nashua River and adjoining wetlands systems along James Brook that play host to ground-nesting birds and other woodlands creatures.

Enhancing its value as a viewshed, the farmland is located in the middle of an existing 1,200-acre block of conservation land that includes the 500-acre Groton Town Forest.

In the meantime, the Trails Committee continues to seek volunteers to help in establishing the new Surrenden Farm network as well as in maintaining the elaborate system of trails that currently exist throughout the rest of the town.

Those interested in finding out more can contact the committee at pgfunch@charter.net

The Trails Committee meets next on July 17.

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