Carolina Hill Reservation

A Plan for Conservation Management

Marshfield, MA


Essential Questions: What efforts are necessary to preserve previously unmanaged land being compromised by misuse and rapid vegetative decline that overlies Marshfield’s aquifer, its sole source of drinking water?


Rough Goals: Develop a management plan to preserve the town’s sole water source from excessive erosion, careless use by residents, and fear of rising Lyme disease.


Refined Goals:

  • Identify ways to protect and improve water quality
  • Find methods to maintain and enhance ecosystems
  • Assess wildlife management needs
  • Research the oak dieback problem and public safety implications
  • Determine appropriate recreational uses
  • Explore stewardship strategies
  • Investigate methods to manage illegal uses
  • Evaluate access and circulation including signs and parking needs

Stakeholder Process: Two public meetings were held in addition to numerous committee meetings and direct communications with town officials and community members.


Involving over 700-acres, Carolina Hill Reservation is surrounded by suburban ingrowth. Neighbors enjoy the site for hiking, horseback riding, ATV use and teen partying. Many rogue trails appear on steep slopes causing excessive erosion.

Marshfield, MA, is a coastal town with a growing demand on its valuable water, which it obtains from an aquifer under Carolina Hill Reservation.

Numerous meetings were held with area residents, recreational users of the site, neighbors concerned about increasing Lyme Disease and town officials.
Unlike neighboring towns whose drinking water comes from central Massachusetts, Marshfield’s drinking water depends on an aquifer located below Carolina Hill Reservation.
Oak die-back and the buildup of forest debris are setting the stage for uncontrollable forest fires which could have disastrous impact on the homes abutting Carolina Hill’s boundary.
Many trails show heavy erosion which is impacting the town’s water quality.

Some uses conflicted with aquifer protection. The lack of enforcement of existing laws restricting motorized use was a serious issue. Additionally, the site gave refuge to an increasing population of white tail deer. Area residents complained of increased risk of Lyme disease and destruction of ornamental plants. Heavy foraging by deer also decreased the site’s diversity of native plants, threatening other animal populations reliant on these for food.

Concerns over Lyme disease grew, but residents banned hunting in the reserve. As a result, the control of white tailed deer became more problematic.
Three site designs and a comprehensive list of Essential First Steps offered a range of solutions.

Outcome: Our management plan was endorsed by the Marshfield’s Conservation Commission and efforts are presently underway to implement the project to revitalize and manage the site.

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Future Lands Designs, LLC., offers the unique Resilient Landscape Planning and Design (RLP&D) approach to recognize the role of Natural Capital (NC) in order to plan for changing conditions as you establish goals on your property.


Natural Capital (NC) includes the interaction of all life as well as climate, weather and natural resources that affect human survival and economic activity.