Join Us to Create the Red River Valley Preserve
photo by Steve and Eileen Furlong

Watch this three-minute video to see the beauty of the Red River watershed land and learn how we can transform an existing house into the new Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT) office and learning center.

Check out this fascinating trail camera footage of the wildlife that call the Red River Valley Preserve their home, captured by HCT volunteer Andrea Petitto.

Red River Valley Preserve

Help save 12.34 acres and establish a new Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT) hub for land preservation, stewardship, education, and meaningful volunteer opportunities.

Project Budget

Land Preservation

Purchase and protect 12.34 acres from conversion to a subdivision.


Master Plan

Create a comprehensive site design for public access, trail, native plant garden & more.


Office & Learning Center

Renovate the house into an office and new learning center.


Stewardship Endowment

Ensure long-term stewardship of the land, office, class space, and land management tools.


Campaign Total $4,250,000

When 12-plus acres of the Red River Valley
was put up for sale this year, the future of
the land turned to us -- all of us.

Would it become a conservation destination?
Or just another development on Route 28,
right next to a stream that flows to the sea?

This property is the largest stretch of forestland left
in Harwich between Route 28 and Nantucket Sound.
Together, we can raise the funds and choose to save
it for everyone, for all time.

Optimistic that the Cape community would see the
many benefits of preserving this priority watershed land,
Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT) limbered up to start
the marathon of raising $4,250,000. Thank you for
stepping up generously. So far, $4,000,000 in
donations and pledges have been committed.

There’s a lot at stake

This is our only opportunity to save these 12.34 acres
upstream of Red River Beach. The land could be
developed into a multi-lot subdivision or for commercial
use—like storage warehouses, which are permitted along
Route 28. If that happened, it would impact water quality, fragment
wildlife habitat, close off public access, and change the
scenic view forever.

Please join this bold vision to preserve important Red River Valley watershed property and adapt the existing house into the Harwich Conservation Trust Learning Center. We need your help to make it happen by December 31, 2023.

isolated butterfly

The Opportunity

This beautiful forested and streamside landscape is visible as one drives along Route 28 from Chatham to Harwich near the start of the broad Red River valley as it makes its way to the ocean.

heron on edge of shore

If the land is developed, the house on the south side of 28 would most likely be bulldozed so that a new subdivision road could reach the back woods for more lots.

Let’s create a different future for this land and protect:
• The view for everyone traveling by
• The habitat for wildlife
• The stream as it runs to Red River Beach & the Sound

We envision adapting the existing house into a new HCT hub to support land preservation, stewardship, education, and meaningful volunteer opportunities. Let's create a new conservation destination that features a native pollinator garden, a trail to explore the woods, bird nest boxes, an expanded office, and an inviting space full of natural light for learning and discovery.

Thanks to your support of the Harwich Conservation Trust, we lead urgent land preservation efforts, provide educational opportunities and outdoor experiences for the community, and foster partnerships across Cape Cod to protect our natural resources.

Our mission is to preserve land that protects water resources, wildlife habitat, walking trails, scenic views, and many other community benefits that shape our shared quality of life on this special corner of Cape Cod. Success in creating the Red River Valley Preserve will support all of this work and more.


Map of Red River Valley properties upstream of Red River Beach on the Harwich/Chatham border.

The Land

Despite intense development pressure in this area on the border of Harwich and Chatham, the landscape on both sides of Route 28 has to date remained natural thanks to longstanding stewardship by the Chase and Baker families.

Forested land

The 2.74 acres north of 28 was owned by the Baker family. On the south side lies 9.6 acres that the Chase family owned for 90 years.

The combined 12.34 acres comprise a critical watershed area tucked into the Red River Valley. The southern parcel borders 780-plus feet of the Red River as it flows to Nantucket Sound, entering the ocean right next to popular Red River Beach.

A pitch pine and oak forest with sun-dappled forest floor surprisingly free of invasive plants rambles down to wetland thickets. Deer, fox, turtles, flying squirrels, and songbirds make these habitats their home. Downstream of the property is an active herring run, where the feisty fish swim up from the Sound into Skinequit Pond each spring to spawn.

The land sits within the public water supply areas of both Harwich and Chatham, recharging many town wells. In Harwich, the wells serve a year-round population of 13,000 and in Chatham 7,200 households.

The 12.34 acres is the missing link needed to complete a north-south wildlife habitat corridor when combined with 475 acres of adjoining conservation and water department land in both towns.

It's our turn to take care of the land, provide a new walking trail, and adapt the existing house into an office and learning center open to all.

Please join us in this bold, exciting endeavor!

home conversion

The existing house provides ample room to expand office space as well as transform the two-car garage into a spacious new learning center.

The Learning Center

Community engagement is a meaningful and transformative part of Harwich Conservation Trust’s work. Thanks to your support, we provide inspiring educational programs and engaging outdoor events for people of all ages throughout the year.

family hike

Yet, we currently have no indoor gathering space for these kinds of offerings which poses limitations on what programs we can offer.

With the acquisition of the Red River Valley property, we envision renovating the house into a universally accessible indoor space — a hub for greeting visitors and hosting education programs. We also envision a magical outdoor space including a native plant and pollinator garden, wildlife cameras, and an interpretive trail.

Saving the land and creating the Red River Valley Preserve is the answer to our need for multipurpose indoor space as a springboard to exploring the great outdoors. With a location right off Route 28, we can increase awareness of our land preservation and stewardship efforts, thereby engaging more people to act locally in a climate changing world.

But we can’t do it without you.

Why this property?

short timeline

This is a rare chance to protect diverse and ecologically significant Red River watershed land so close to the coast, while also filling an important need for expanding educational opportunities and meaningful volunteer experiences.

Raising the final $250,000 to reach the $4,250,000 goal includes funding the land purchase, site design, house renovation, and starting a stewardship endowment. These elements comprise phase one. Additional funds would be needed for the second phase to create parking and trailhead access from Route 28.

Here’s some great news!

When we accomplish the first phase, two generous donors have pledged to fund the second phase of public parking and trailhead access, including handicap spaces and electric vehicle charging stations. Another donor will
fund creation of a native pollinator demonstration garden. We hope these extra incentives energize your support.

There are so many benefits to protecting this unique property, but to do so we must raise the remaining $395,000 by December 31, 2023.

Gerry Beetham

Land preservation with the acquisition of 12.34 acres of high-priority forest, wetland, and stream habitats that provide the ecosystem mosaic for a wide variety of plants and animals

Herring by Gerry Beetham

Water quality with the protection of Red River and Red River Beach from potential subdivision runoff detrimental to herring and other species that rely on the river’s clean water

ramp to education center

Accessibility with the creation of a wheelchair accessible ramp to the new indoor classroom space

child sitting amongst ferns in the fall

Education and the ability to offer more outdoor experiences for all ages, year-round

Gerry Beetham

Walking trail with access to a new footpath offering glimpses into the wetland thickets bordering the Red River Valley

by James Carbone

Missing link connection in a wildlife habitat conservation corridor of 475 acres spanning the shared border of Harwich and Chatham north to Route 39 and south along Red River to Nantucket Sound

forested land

Scenic forested view on both sides of the road for travelers on busy Route 28

bird in flight by Sarah E. Devlin

Hope for the future by creating a new home for Harwich Conservation Trust

your contributions will help

It is rare that with a single gift, you can make an enduring positive impact on the future of our shared quality of life. Please consider making a generous gift today!

Your support will benefit wildlife, sensitive habitats, and people for generations to come, protecting land and building a community of current and future conservation leaders. Your donation will help us reach our ambitious goal and make a lasting, local difference — we can’t do it alone.

Other ways to make a donation

By Mail: Write a check to P.O. Box 101, South Harwich, MA 02661 made payable to Harwich Conservation Trust and in the check memo line: Red River Valley.

To make a gift of stock, or recommend a gift from a charitable gift fund, please contact Michael Lach, HCT Executive Director, at 508-432-3997 or email

We welcome your questions and support, call any time at 508-432-3997.

Thank you for helping to make this vision a reality!

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“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

– Jane Goodall