The Lowell/Great Brook Planning Unit contains a diversity of DCR properties in northeastern Massachusetts that provide visitors with a wide variety of experiences. Great Brook Farm State Park includes a working dairy farm with a “smart” barn, over 20 miles of trails, and a cross-country ski center, providing year-round recreational opportunities. Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsborough State Forest is aprimarily wooded, 1,100-acre property, providing over 30 miles of trails for recreational opportunities and respite from the city. Lowell Heritage State Park includes riverside parklands, 19th century canals,and historic structures managed in partnership with the National Park Service and the City. Several smaller facilities in Carlisle and Billerica are also included in this planning unit, ranging from the 201-acre Warren H. Manning State Forest, which has a spray deck for summer use, to the 11-acre Governor Thomas Dudley Park, along with the small forested blocks of Carlisle State Forest and Billerica State Forest that provide valuable wildlife habitat in this densely populated region.
Public input is an important component of the RMP process, providing a forum for communication and cooperation with park visitors, partners, and surrounding communities, and ensuring transparency in the DCR’s stewardship efforts. An initial public meeting on the Lowell/Great Brook Planning Unit was held on July 23, 2012, to present information about the DCR’s resource management planning process and hear public comments on issues that should be addressed in the RMP. A second public meeting was held on July 21, 2014, to present the draft RMP and hear public questions and comments on the material covered in the plan. Both meetings were followed by 30-day public comment periods. Public input received at the meetings and during the associated comment periods helped shape the Lowell/Great Brook RMP, which was adopted by the DCR Stewardship Council on October 3, 2014.