It is hard to believe that spring is here. DNRT’s Parson’s Reserve will soon be sprouting those beautiful yellow and white treasures and thousands of people will come from miles around to visit the daffodil fields. The popularity of this special and unique place has been both a blessing and a dilemma for us at DNRT. It can be a lovely, peaceful place to roam and enjoy the beauty of nature. However, the number of visitors has grown exponentially year after year. In April of 2013, DNRT counted 8,000 visitors over a 4 week period. This number is staggering compared to the 3,000 people counted in 2012. On the bright side, this tremendous growth has helped to spread the word about DNRT and the work we do, but unfortunately it has resulted in some significant challenges we must face.
Some of the challenges include:
- Significantly increased wear and tear on the Reserve, including the trampling of daffodils by people who wander off the narrow paths and well-meaning picture takers who may be unaware of the damage they are doing.
- Limited parking available at the Town Landing and danger inherent in having more cars on the road and more people crossing the road.
These issues have inspired DNRT to make some changes. We have widened the daffodil path to allow for two-way pedestrian traffic. Daffodils that were along the edge will be moved to fill in bare spots. The path has also been lined with cedar logs to make the boundaries more clear. Dog-owners will be asked to keep their furry friends on a leash while visiting. We have also created several photo areas to allow visitors to get the perfect picture without walking into the flower beds. Professional portrait photographers will not be allowed, and we ask that all tripods, standing lights, props and other accessories be left at home. They create a disruption and mar the experience of other visitors.
DNRT will post more signage along the trails with information about the daffodils and how delicate they are, as well as clearly stating the rules and regulations of the property. We will also be increasing DNRT’s presence during busy times, including hiring “Rangers” to watch the fields.
Parking at the Dartmouth Town Landing, the lot across the street from the Reserve, is limited, and visitors are asked to park safely and responsible on one side of the road if the lot is full. DNRT is working with the Town of Dartmouth on a possible crosswalk and additional signage to help guide visitors. We ask that everyone be careful crossing the road, especially on the most popular days.
None of these solutions are without cost, so we had a difficult decision to make. After much consideration, DNRT has decided to ask for a $2 donation per person for non-members to visit the daffodil field. Members will receive a card by mail allowing them entrance for up to 6 people at no charge.
We are hopeful that these changes will help preserve this special place, to allow visitors to enjoy the beauty of the daffodils for generations to come.