Gates Recommended to Prevent Bonfires, Trash Dumping in Harwich Conservation Area

The recommended locations of the gates for the Robbins Pond Conservation Area. Town of Harwich

HARWICH – The Harwich Conservation Department has proposed two new gates for the Robbins Pond Conservation Area to deter environmentally-damaging and dangerous activity.

Conservation Agent Amy Usowski told select board members during their Monday meeting that people have driven around existing barriers, creating new roads and damaging the local ecosystem.

Some have also dumped trash—including a “bedroom’s worth” of old furniture and substantial yard waste—in the remote conservation area, according to Usowski.

The gates would be placed along the dirt track beyond any residences, in locations where the road conditions are poor. 

“Really only high vehicles and ATVs can access that. There’s potholes that with a little bit of rain could swallow a car in there. Because of its remoteness, it’s a really attractive place for a lot of people, but also a lot of undesirable activities,” said Usowski. 

Existing barriers were put up to prevent ATV transit, as well as dissuade bonfires that occurred regularly in the summertime. 

Usowski added that they are not opposed to the public utilizing the conservation area in a safe manner and desire to promote other ways that the old cranberry bog and surrounding area can be enjoyed responsibly. 

“We would like to put a little more formalized parking areas at either end so more people can come and actually enjoy it. We want to dissuade some of the misuse of the property, and we’re open to suggestions. 

Police and fire departments would have access through the gates in case of emergencies. Officials from both departments as well as the Department of Public Works also agreed it was a problem area and agreed with the gates, according to Usowski.

She added that local residents living around the area were also supportive of the potential gates.

Select Board Chair Michael MacAskill voiced opposition to the recommendation, saying that people will always find a way around the gates. 

“We’re not going to solve the problem with gates. We’re not ever going to get rid of the four-wheelers. We’re not ever going to get rid of the dirt-bikers. And wherever you put a gate, they’re going to figure out how to get their Jeep through there,” said MacAskill.

He added that he is in favor of finding other ways to prevent people from getting down to the bog specifically, but trying to prevent access to the road will not prevent those determined to get in and goes against Harwich’s message that the town-owned properties are for public use. 

Usowski said that the recommendation was not made lightly, but other alternatives such as routine police patrols are not feasible. 

Cameras are also in place to prevent illicit activity, though some have been stolen in the past, said Usowski.

The board said that they would revisit the issue at a later date, potentially with comment from the fire and police departments. 

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy