Natural resource preserves within Bedford and surrounding communities function as protected watersheds for the Concord and Shawsheen Rivers. The largest is the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and containing approximately 2,500 acres of wetland/floodplain in several communities that abut the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord (SuAsCo) Rivers. Approximately 28% (692 acres) of the refuge is located in Bedford. The influence of the Refuge on community development has been the enormous benefit of preserving a river corridor in Bedford and preventing inappropriate development along the Concord River and within its extensive floodplain. Prime recreational water and wildlife resources are now available to the entire region, and accessible to citizens via the river itself at the Carlisle Road boat landing.
Two Brothers Rocks. In 1638, Governor Winthrop and his Deputy, Thomas Dudley, were given land grants in a place then known as Shawshin. They traveled from New Towne (now Cambridge) to the new inland settlement at Concord and then proceeded down the Concord River to set off the boundaries of their properties. At the place they designated as the boundary between Governor Winthrop's land to the south and Deputy Dudley's land to the north were two large boulders on the east bank of the Concord River. The rocks were given the name Two Brothers Rocks by Governor Winthrop because the men were "brothers by their children's marriage". Located in what is now the Refuge, Two Brothers Rocks served as one of the oldest inland landmarks for early explorers in the United States. Recent scout programs have improved the site and helped to establish the first historic trail to the Concord River in Bedford, from the Minnie Reid Conservation Area and Huckins Farm trails to Two Brothers Rocks at the river's edge.