Brewster Trust Has Bog Property In Its Sights

by Rich Eldred
The Brewster Conservation Trust is working to acquire this former cranberry bog off Route 6A in Brewster, which also includes the upland toward the back. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO The Brewster Conservation Trust is working to acquire this former cranberry bog off Route 6A in Brewster, which also includes the upland toward the back. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

BREWSTER – The Brewster Conservation Trust wants to buy a bog. Not to grow cranberries, which haven’t flourished there in decades, but to recreate a wetland habitat on Route 6A in East Brewster.

Washington Chase died at age 95 in 2008. He was born in Brewster in 1912 and worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and at the Brewster General Store, and he served in World War II from 1942 to 1945 as an Air Force truck driver in England. He’d always wanted to be a cranberry farmer. Upon returning home, as BCT stalwart Beth Finch observed, he worked at Nickerson State Park to support his cranberry bog habit. Along with his wife Mary (Mick), he also operated a 20-tent site campground (The Woodlot) behind the bog for 50 years.

The bog is right behind Winslow Spirits and Things on Route 6A and currently growing over with native vegetation. The back end is upland Cape Cod woods with trails.

“It’s our big project this year. We’ve been working with Washie’s son-in-law David Dalgarn to protect the bog. It’s 12.36 acres of conservation land, five acres of cranberry bog,” BCT Executive Director Amy Henderson said.

Dalgarn is willing to sell the land to the BCT for far less than its appraised value.

“It was shut down in the 1990s or 2000s. We’re looking at it as a restoration project as wildlife habitat and to open it back up to the public,” Henderson explained.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail streams out of Nickerson State Park through a tunnel right past the back of the bog, so people could walk to the property from the park or from Mitchell Lane. The upland woods where the campground was is 8.85 acres and already has trails.

Henderson listened to an oral history at the Brewster Ladies’ Library that Chase recorded in which he recalled the bog was a marshy area with a lot of peat at one time. Without a nearby pond or stream as a water source, Chase pumped groundwater from three wells to flood the cranberry bog.

“We’ll remove the layer of sand on top and see what species are down below in the seed bank and are still viable,” Henderson said. “We do own some old cranberry bogs but we haven’t done any bog restoration projects yet. We still have some research to do. This is on a smaller scale.”

It would not be an elaborate restoration, such as the landscaping and sculpting of the Coonamessett Bog in Mashpee or the rewilding of the Bank Street Bogs in Harwich, where ponds and the winding stream of Carding Brook is being restored from the central irrigation canal. The idea would just be to dig down to the old marsh sod and, as Henderson said, see what grows naturally. Hopefully that would be some of the original sedges, grasses, and other wetland plants. The vegetation would draw in some wetland wildlife.

“The first thing is to open it up to the public,” Henderson said. “There is a possibility for a small parking lot. It’s a wonderful habitat. There is a lot of wildlife: fisher, coyote, turkeys.”

There is a road to the backwoods of the property. Trails could provide viewing access to the bog.

The focus now is on raising the needed funding. The BCT plans to close on the property June 30, a time-sensitive date because of a state grant of $175,000.

“The total purchase price is $700,000. That includes a house lot of 1.5 acres in addition to the 12 of the bog,” Henderson said. “We haven’t kicked off the campaign officially yet. Hopefully there will be a partnership with the town with CPC (community preservation committee) support for conservation land. Other than that a couple of people have reached out and are giving $10,000.”

The property has been appraised at $1.24 million.

She said so far they have raised less than $20,000, not counting the expected state grant.

“We don’t know yet how much CPC funding we’ll ask for,” she said.

BCT has another project on tap as well. Steve and Kate Backus donated the old E-Spa at 2342 Main St. to the BCT in 2021. That’s a half-acre parcel that also contains an old schoolhouse that will be dismantled and relocated by the Brewster Historical Society to Windmill Village. There’s a small pond behind the building and the parcel abuts the 6.15-acre vernal pond trail that is used by Eddy School students.

BCT will be restoring the setting and will need funding for that as well as the demolition of what remains of the buildings.

The plan is to create a public park with a view over the wetlands and pond.

The funding campaigns should begin later this month or in March. More information on both projects is available in the Brewster Conservation Trust fall 2023 newsletter and on its website,