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End of an Era- Buzz and Ruby Homage with Paul Roberts Flickr photos
Ruby soaring

There was understandable excitement when Ruby was found incubating on March 8. There are at least three spots from which you can clearly see the nest, but you really needed a scope to be able to see if a bird might be sitting low in the nest. And it quickly became clear that the nest had been built up, so that it was often difficult if not impossible to determine if a bird was sitting tight (low) in the nest.

Ruby soaring
Photo: Paul Roberts

More photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/30136859@N06/sets/72157627784588301/
New Signs At Alewife Reservation
FAR logo

Sign Making at Alewife Reservation with National Civilian Community Corp and artist, Jennifer O'Donnell. Vermont cedar boards and making of wooden materials, Stuart Soboleski.

Sixteen signs were erected at the newly paved and created Alewife Belmont to Brighton pathway which give directives for observation, respect of wildlife, share the path, bird sanctuary, and welcome to the Alewife Reservation. Thanks to the above for their contributions.

Official New York City Wetlands Planning, Post-Sandy

The City of New York
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

wetlands play a critical role in maintaining water quality and provide important wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities. ... The somewhat overlapping Federal, State, and local regulatory regimes ... contain gaps that may leave critical remaining wetlands vulnerable to a variety of direct and indirect pressures. This white paper identifies those gaps and suggests general approaches to filling them. (pdf document)

Environmental Boot Camp May 17-18 offered for Environmental Champion Building in Massachusetts

See the Environmental League of Massachusetts offer.

Articles feature Beloved red tail Ruby death by poison

Globe article notes demise of red tail with mistaken poison location (more)
Wide concerns grow about development projects at Alewife and Fresh Pond (more)
Dead animals are showing up at Alewife and recently Ruby, the noted Red tail was killed from rodenticide and proven by an official necropsy. Although not known what killed the 4 geese and opossum by the storm water wetlands oxbow and new forebay adjacent to Cambridge Park Drive at the “Triangle”, we must immediately appeal to leaders in the city and owners of newly permitted construction to avoid all rat poison or rodenticides, and instead use other methods.

The DCR funding call has been voted on

Mass. Budget Allotments to DCR: results are as follows: We did well on Green Budget amendment co-sponsorships, particularly for our top priorities -- the approximate current number of co-sponsors are DCR Seasonal Staff (34), DCR Parks & Rec (29), and DEP Admin (15). THANK YOU for reaching out to legislators and helping mobilize people throughout MA to get these numbers!! Legislators can still sign on as co-sponsors after today until the budget is debated in late April. Sent from Environmental League of Mass. By Erica Mattison.

Warm and Cold We Share Together

A Climate video series by International scientists. Produced in China. Series of A Civilization Journey of Climate. (more)

Sustainable Belmont organization spotlights Belmont Uplands Silver Maple Forest

Its history and conditions, legal status and present preservation efforts

Presenters: Anne Marie Lambert and Idith Haber Kisin, in behalf of preserving the Belmont Uplands
Article by Ellen Mass

( Requested slide shows from Coalition to Preserve Belmont Uplands and Belmont Citizen Forum )

Global Climate Convergence

Global Earth Day to May Day 2014
People, Planet, Peace over Profit

USGS report on Alewife

Data on Alewife Brook flow rates from 2011-04-04 forward. (more)

First Parish Cambridge Trip to Alewife Reservation, March 23

The Sunday School program from First Parish in Cambridge visited the Alewife Reservation. (more)

Eagle on Mystic Lake; FAR believes it is coming to Blair Pond
eagle on sandy shore of Mystic Lake
photo: George McLean

Sighted recently by a Belmont Light employee at Blair Pond in Cambridge and Belmont.

Cambridge's Recycling Newsletter

This newsletter has vital and interesting information about recycling ideas for you and your home area. (newsletters)

Thanks to Randy Mail for this.

Wetlands: The Vital Link
photo of wetlands
photo-Art Michaels

This article explains the differences among kinds of wetlands, why wetlands are important to us, and why fish, amphibians and reptiles need wetlands. (more) (entire series downloadable, added April 3, 2014)

Friends of Fresh Pond has a new Website - Check it out

Full of things to learn and do.

(their website) (their events)

Federal Government Engineering Journal Spotlights Alewife Storm Water Wetlands
cover page

Article on construction of the Alewife Storm Water Wetlands. (more)

From Engineer of Montgomery and Watson, Bill Pisano, long term friend of Alewife Reservation.

Natural Resources Alert

This Nasa Earth Observatory image shows a storm system circling around an area of extreme low pressure in 2010, which many scientists attribute to climate change.
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A new study partly-sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. (more)

Fresh Pond and Alewife Residents meet at Tobin
photo of meeting at Tobias School

Fresh Pond and Alewife Residents met at Tobin on 3-25-2014 to discuss urban planning, zoning, moratorium and basics of development and over-development. Round of applause after FAR noted the importance of including the climate change factor in residential living conditions in low lying watershed area such as the Mystic River watershed.

Three  Canada Geese Deserve Eulogy
photo of canada geese walking among wildflowers

Canada geese are extremely visible and 'in your face'. We often don't notice their regal stance and graceful flight in perfect V alignment whereby we know spring is here or winter is on the way. In flight, male and female honk in sequence, indicating their instinctive manner of migration and love life. As a child, a goose approached me and bent his long graceful neck, then lightly bit my big toe. It looked up at me as eye to eye we met, and then walked away.  Stunned, not hurt, I got the point. It was a diplomatic gesture of territory and I never forgot. (more)

Biomimicry - Buildings of the Future
photo of rooftop array of photovoltaic cells -

Time to re-think modern architecture, design and efficiency. Seattle may have the greenest biomimicry building in the world. (more)

Recovery of the Climate Report
photo of grass trees, mountains, sky

Recovery of the Climate
Scientific Report from Eastern Europe
New Water Paradigm (more)

Sat, Apr 26: DCR's Park Serve Day - Online Registration is Now Open
Massachusetts Park Serve Day

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) invites you to attend DCR’s 8th Annual Park Serve Day, Saturday April 26, 2014 at parks across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Online registration is now open for those who wish to register prior to the event. (more)

More Parks Funding needed in Massachusetts

Register your support for legislative funding now FAR encourages its members to act now and help bring greater funding to DCR's Alewife Reservation and to its parks throughout the state. (more)

What killed the Canada geese by the storm water wetland/oxbow?

photo: Kathy Johnson

Three dead geese found 3/10 with a long oil slick and either algae or fecal matter by carcasses at the oxbow entry at Little River. City of Cambridge is investigating cause. Poison and contamination spread is the concern of Friends of Alewife Reservation. (more) (flickr album)

Climate Change Map of Alewife - Fresh Pond in North Cambridge
Storm surge map of Mystic River Watershed
Click for interactive map

(Mystic River watershed climate surge data)
Map sent by Michele Sprengnether of Fresh Pond Residence Alliance

This map shows what area around Alewife has over a 1 in 6 chance of flooding by 2020. (more)

LETTER: Ecologists praise Alewife's urban wildlife

On Feb. 26 at Leslie Univeristy “deep ecology” speakers included wildlife assessor David Brown and landscape storm water wetland designer Duke Bitsko. (more)

More DRC events (flyer)

Call FAR for more information at 617 415-1884

Spring Arrives A Little Early for Some
a robin eats sumac berries
A robin caught eating some sumac at Alewife Reservation recently. Courtesy Kathy Johnson

Just a couple of days ago I saw dried leaves and underbrush near the creek or channel, historically, "Alewife Brook," which runs beside and into Little River from North Cambridge. I thought how colorless and cold it looked in spite of shining blue skies, and it was only 20 degrees. (more)

Biodiversity Support for Cities Expands in 2014

Formerly on the endangered species list, peregrine falcons are increasingly common in cities.

The rapid conversion of natural lands to cement-dominated urban centers is causing great losses in biodiversity. Yet, according to a new study involving 147 cities worldwide, surprisingly high numbers of plant and animal species persist and even flourish in urban environments — to the tune of hundreds of bird species and thousands of plant species in a single city. (more)

Green Infrastructure Plans Moving Forward in Belmont and Arlington
map of Alewife Brook Watershed

The Towns of Arlington and Belmont will work to identify the highest sources of stormwater runoff within their communities and begin planning for solutions to mitigate this impact. The municipalities, along with MyRWA, are taking a proactive approach toward identifying pollution sources and reducing pollutant loading through an examination of solutions with a focus on “green” structural Best Management Practices (BMPs). (more)

State and National Storm Water By-Law could protect Belmont and Cambridge silver maples

Idith Haber of the Coalition to Preserve Belmont Uplands gives hope for enforcing state and federal environmental laws using national standards:National Pollution Discharge Environmental Standards (NPDES) of 2011 which requires implementation via extensive infrastructure, protecting polluted storm water from our streams and rivers, and with greater erosion and flooding controls. National standards must apply.

The town may allow an over riding of the required storm water by-law based on a housing 40 B loophole. Cambridge should weigh into this opportunity to preserve its new 150 million dollar project of storm water wetlands which proceeded the last 2 years with utmost regulatory NPDES implementation. Such non-compliance upstream in Belmont may compromise the storm water wetlands in Cambridge. (more)

Mystic River Watershed Association helps bring attention to reduction of CSO discharges into the Little River and into Alewife Brook
Alewife Brook

From: Mystic River Watershed Association printed by Arlington Patch (more)

Arlington environmentalists ask delay for FEMA "floodway" building plan

Letter from Arlington Vision 2020’s Sustainable Arlington to Rep. Garbally and Rep. Rogers

Preparing for the Rising Tide
Boston Harbor Association publishes Climate Report for Massachusetts

Boston Harbor Association publishes Climate Report for Massachusetts using FEMA as baseline for data by NAVD model &emdash; not other models which Cambridge will use such as ADCIRC.

Thanks to BHA for the scenerios reviewed and clear directives given. (more)

Disappearance of Alewife Reservation

Alewife Reservation has disappeared, but with good scientific reason. (more)

Massachusetts Climate Change State Regulations from 2009

(Requires agencies to withhold permits on floodplains and areas of flooding sensitivities.)

In considering and issuing permits, licenses and other administrative approvals and decisions, the respective agency, department, board, commission or authority shall also consider reasonably foreseeable climate change impacts, including additional greenhouse gas emissions, and effects, such as predicted sea level rise. (more)

2013 Friends Network Annual conference in Upton MA
group picture of conference attendees

2013 Friends of DCR Parks Network annual conference in Upton Massachusetts.
Center left: Ellen Mass, president of Friends of Alewife Reservation.

Excerpts from Five Comment Reports from January 15 DEP site visit participants on hotel development at Alewife Reservation area

Commenters to DEP extracted here are: Kathy Johnson, Anne Marie Lambert, Lucia Lovison, Ellen Mass, Quinton Zondervan, Councilor Dennis Carlone. Other commenters include legislators Representative Dave Rogers and Senator Sean Garballey.

Dennis Carlone, Cambridge City Councillor. The City's recognition that a vulnerability study is needed tells me that we need to be cautious in developing sensitive areas now under study. It makes great sense to wait for and learn from the vulnerability study recommendations before your Department's final determination is issued. (full letter)

Ellen Mass, President of Friends of Alewife Reservation. We will not be able to ascertain what future protections are required for this region of the Boston metropolis and our western corridor until the in-depth regional studies are done which will indicate massive flooding for this region during high hurricane level storms. The June 2014 Vulnerability Assessment, a state-wide initiative will either confirm or contradict the proponent's flood assessment predictions. (full letter)

Kathy Johnson, Site Visit Proponent, Appellate, Neighborhood Resident. Since a "Vulnerability Assessment" is in process in Cambridge with a long list of noted advisors and scientists and university advisors, I ask the DEP to hold off on permits related to flood storage and water elevation." (full letter)

Lucia Lovison-Golob, GISCI, Engineering Geologist and Geophysicist, Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR) consultant and FAR Board Member. [I recommend] to wait for the vulnerability study ... while asking to BSC Group to increase the storage tanks to cover for a 10.8 feet NGVD 88 (NOT 10 feet ... as they are designed now) (full letter)

Quinton Zondervan, President of Green Cambridge. The climate is changing and we need to change our ways of deciding where to build what. At the very least, we can wait to permit large new buildings in the floodway until the vulnerability study has been concluded. I've added my name to a citizen's petition asking the Department of Environmental Protection to overrule the Conservation Commission’s decision. (full letter)

GUEST COMMENTARY Need to investigate hotel plan at Alewife

On Jan. 15, the site visit area was saturated with storm water, almost entirely. Walking on grass was extremely difficult and large pools lay throughout. Geese and birds covered the grass. The Wetlands Protection Act designation (Bordering Land Subject to Flooding-BLSF) is present throughout the building plan area. Three remaining proposed buildings that would be on the 100-year floodplain are part of the Bulfinch Master Plan permitted in 2008 for nearly a million square feet. (more)

Cambridge Environmentalists Cite Need to Delay and Investigate Hotel Plan at Alewife (Department of Environmental Protection site visit)
flooding in Discovery Park

DEP site visit at Alewife. 10 citizen appeal brings attention to the FEMA 100 year floodplain and floodway. (more)

Flooding at Discovery Park - Alewife Reservation
flooding in Discovery Park


Department of Environmental Protection accepts Appeal from 10 Cambridge citizens to block or to delay a new hotel off of Route 2 by Alewife Reservation
BSC engineers for Bulfinch point out new hotel site

This past month, Department of Environmental Protection accepted a 10 citizen Appeal of Cambridge Conservation Commission's permit of 85 thousand sq.ft. for a 4 story hotel directly on the Alewife floodplain (see photos) at a time when Cambridge has begun its region-wide "Vulnerability Study" that will include Alewife and the Charles River watershed. The Study is now on hold for another 6 months in anticipation of the ongoing Central Artery flooding study with Woods Hole research which pertains to climate control of this region. (more)

New Harvard/Smithsonian Report Warns of Forest Removal
view from Bare Mt to NW

A groundbreaking study released Dec. 11, 2013 by the Harvard Forest and the Smithsonian Institution reveals that, if left unchecked, recent trends in the loss of forests to development will undermine significant land conservation gains in Massachusetts, jeopardize water quality, and limit the natural landscape's ability to protect against climate change. The good news is that the research shows alternatives exist for protecting and enhancing vital forest benefits for people and nature.  The two-year study is unique in its forward-looking approach and its use of sophisticated computer models to conduct a detailed acre-by-acre analysis of the entire forested landscape of Massachusetts over 50 years... (article) (full report) (video of status of Massachusetts forests and perilous impacts in the future)

Hot Spots In The Mystic River Watershed
picture of hotspot - beautiful river area
Hot spot area WIB001 within the Alewife Reservation.

This map shows the Mystic River watershed and the known hot spots -- areas of contaimination. If you zoom in on the Cambridge/Belmont border, you can find Alewife Station, the Alewife Reservation area, and the WIB001 hot spot. Click on WIB001 to see graphs of the history of E. coli and phosphorus readings at that site, with explanations.

Vulnerability Study Must be Complete- Stop Alewife Permits Until Then

December 2013 by Quinton Zondervan, President, Green Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is in the middle of conducting a Climate Vulnerability Study... We know the storms are coming but we don’t know yet what to do about it. The vulnerability study is meant to provide us with a more detailed idea of what to prepare for in terms of climate changes, including rainfall patterns and flooding... ( full article)

Sustainable Belmont on Storm water

December 2013
While we rarely face water scarcity in Belmont, we are subject to the impacts of extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy. With a 28% increase in precipitation in the last decade, stormwater run-off can cause sewers to overflow and pollute our basements, groundwater, streams and ponds. During extreme weather events, stormwater in the Mystic River can back up causing flooding of basements, roads and schools.... (Sustainable Belmont website)

Past views of Alewife floodplain still relevant today (from Arlington Land Trust News 2004)
icon of Arlington Land Trust News 2004 Fall front page

The recent state court decision favoring the Town of Arlington and a federal mapping study of the floodplain around the Alewife Brook watershed both offer long-awaited recognition of the severity of flooding in this fragile area, and add support to long-standing and broad-based efforts to protect open space in the region... (more)

Sustainable Cities Collective writer says, "Only one in Four European Cities prepared for Climate Change"
map of europe

Seven out of ten European cities have no formal plans to adapt to climate change and one in three cities have no plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions according to new research. (article)

(older news articles)
Storm Water Wetlands
Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR) Helps Improve The Regional Environment


still from video
Storm Water Wetlands Ceremony and Opening

After 2 years of construction, the largest storm water wetland in New England (3.5 acres) opened with amphitheater, one mile of walkways through a restored wetland and river oxbow for public use by Cambridge, Belmont and Arlington residents and beyond. (Photos) (Video)

photo of wetlands
Storm Water/Wetlands Opening - Environmental Pride of the City

Letter published in Wicked Local Cambridge. "Waves of distinctive native flowers, shrubs and trees now flow in the newly constructed marshland as part of the Alewife Reservation Master Plan of DCR, not yet completed..." (more)

Alewife Stormwater Wetland Project - A City Tour

Monday, May November 138th 3:30pm - 4:30pm at 165 CambridgePark Drive
Catherine Woodbury led a guided walk through the Alewife Constructed Stormwater Wetland project. Catherine, DPW's Project Manager, gave this tour to Friends of Alewife Reservation and the public.

Photo of wetland construction
Cambridge Day photos and coverage of Storm Water Opening

"New Alewife wetland, with boardwalk, amphitheater, due for Tuesday unveiling", article by Marc Levy. Cambridgeday, October 14, 2013. "More than two years of work making a 3.4-acre wetland at Alewife culminates with a grand opening ..."

Cambridge Storm Water Wetlands project, including photos.

photo of the tour's people
Storm water TOUR Dec. 2012

(small article)

2010 FEMA Floodplain Designations

Once a permit application is received and the proposed project is ready for review, the next job is to ensure that the project will not impose flood problems on other properties... (more)

Plants and Restoration
Meadow Plants seen and collected by Walter Kittredge 2013

( list of plants) excel icon

Ellen Mass and another volunteer on the Phragmites project
Meadow Improvement Project on North side of Little River comes to a Close

Two western meadow sections of phragmites removed (photos)

Preserve Alewife Reservation
video against development around Alewife Reservation
Far Forum Spring 2013
photo of Ellen Mass at forum
Silver Maple Forest Concert
Silver Maple Forest Concert

Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR) office is in the Fresh Pond Mall
186 Alewife Brook Parkway, Suite 304, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: 617-415-1884
Email: info@friendsofalewifereservation.org

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About Friends of Alewife Reservation

The Alewife Reservation is a unique natural resource for the communities of Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge and home to hundreds of species, including hawks, coyotes beavers, snapping turtles, wild turkeys and muskrats, the reservation is a unique natural resource for the community.

Friends of Alewife Reservation works to protect and restore this wild area and the surrounding area for the water quality, native plants, animals and over 90 bird species with paths for walking, running and biking, recreation, and for classroom education and research. We regularly steward and preserve the Reservation area for wildlife and for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

photo of nature walk

Accomplishments in 2013
Virtual Tour
Right now, view the wildlife-rich North Trail of Alewife Reservation.
Alewife Master Plan
Review the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
Master Plan for Alewife Reservation.
Help preserve this unique urban wild