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Alewife Poetry Walk on August 18 - Walk Description

Poets Barbara Thomas and Elizabeth Quinlan led a beautiful “Poetry Stroll” at the Alewife Reservation on Saturday, sponsored by Friends of Alewife Reservation, paying tribute to the variety of habitats available there for local wildlife. Full Press Release.

Tree Stewardship Training by DCR - October 12-13

Tree Steward Training is an annual program designed for community Tree Board members, Tree Wardens and other municipal staff, tree activists, planners, interested citizens, and green professionals interested in the topics and issues of urban and community trees and forests. You can learn more and register here.

Photo by George McLean

More Mystic Watershed Birds

Photo shows hope for Alewife River and pond conditions. Picture.

DCR Citizen Forester, August, 2018

The August 2018 issue of The Citizen Forester is here! The Citizen Forester is the monthly newsletter of the Massachusetts DCR Urban and Community Forestry Program.

In this issue:

  • Ten Years with the Asian Longhorned Beetle Program in Massachusetts
  • Species Spotlight: Common Hackberry
  • Growing Greener – in Framingham
  • Call for Forest Legacy Proposals
  • Webcasts, Classes, Upcoming Conferences, Events, News, and more!
NYTimes Magazine devotes entire edition to Climate Change

The New York Times Magazine's recent Sunday edition contained a comprehensive review of what was known about climate change during the 1980s and about the people and politics that brought the world's great economic powers agonizingly close to taking positive action. You can read the story here.

Cambridge City Council kills Green Zoning Proposal

On July 30 the Cambridge City Council killed a 'Green Factor' zoning amendment filed by residents to improve open space, infrastructure and stormwater management. You can read more here and watch video of the proceedings here.

Preliminary Results of BioChar Experiments At Blair Pond

Data measured by Professor Mertl show abundance of plants in biochar and compost plots are comparable. It was anticipated that biochar soils would indicate superior plant growth. More seeds will be added to the experiment in the spring to continue observing changes and more biochar and compost mixes will also be added. Students may experiment with additional meadow ecology factors in Spring 2019. Data Summary.

Alewife Poetry Stroll on August 18

Anne Marie Lambert, Barbara Thomas and Elizabeth Quinlan will share nature poetry while they walk along the old DCR North Trail in Cambridge to the Belmont border on August 18 from 10am to noon. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Reservation as well as the evocative words of local poets. More details are in the event flyer.

Chinese Orchestra Centers around Maestro of Bird Sound

Chinese folk music includes several spectacular pieces, including Wang Jianzhong's 1973 "A Hundred Birds Paying Respect to the Phoenix". A performance at the 2013 Zhuqi National Music Festival is particularly enchanting. You can watch it here.

Alewife Brook CSO Progress Update

Earlier this year the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, City and Cambridge and City of Sommerville published an update on efforts to reduce combined sewer overflow events, which harm water quality, in Alewife Brook. You can read the report here.

Video of Alewife Great Swamp Legacy Forum

On June 13 the Natural Science and Mathematics Division at Lesley University hosted a forum of conservation groups and experts in a diverse range of fields to discuss the challenges that climate change will cause for residents and governments in places like Cambridge. More information, and a link to videos of some of the speakers, is here.

Recommendations from 1990s Alewife Study Group Still Relevant

In the 1990s the Alewife Study Group was formed to assess plans to develop the former W. R. Grace site, which includes Jerry's Pond and surrounding areas. Many of its recommendations are still relevant today. The recommendations, and a link to the full report, are here.

Proposed Tree Ordinance Amendment Would Improve Accountability

An amendment has been proposed to the Cambridge Tree Ordinance that would improve transparency and accountability of tree removals by requiring permits and thorough records of each occurrence. You can read the proposed amendment here and the existing ordinance here.

Photo by Kathy Johnson

Empty Nests at Jerry's Pond

All of the young herons seen in nests at Jerry's Pond have fledged. The incredible success of the rookery this year is likely due to the pond's clean water and fence-protected habitat. Check out some pictures here!

Photo by Jake Osborne

Watersheds' lawsuit wins special permit for improved water quality

The long-awaited Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit has gone into effect following a lawsuit filed by nine Massachusetts watershed associations. The permit requires municipalities to take additional steps to protect rivers, lakes, streams and ponds from polluted stormwater runoff. Little River could benefit from this new Federal requirement. More information is here.

Photo by Jake Stout

Spring Cleaning and Environmental Teaching at Alewife

This spring was a busy time at Alewife Reservation. Volunteers helped with many cleanups, an Alewife resilience symposium was held at Tufts University and local experts provided valuable knowledge that will help monitor the area's rich biological resoures. A summary is available here.

Understanding Climate Change "Green Factor"

A new "Green Factor" has been proposed for addition to the Cambridge zoning ordinance. A detailed yet approachable Q&A examining the need for and details of the proposal is available here.

Climate Petition Hearing (Video)

On June 27 the Cambridge Ordinance Committee held a hearing to discuss a petition to amend the zoning in Section 20.70 Flood Overlay district and the creation of a new Section 22.80 – Green Factor. Video of that hearing, including public comments can be viewed here.

Municipality goes backward on removing climate protecting trees

One of our neighbors in North Cambridge has penned a letter to the Cambridge City Council requesting the council close loopholes in the Tree Protection Ordinance that have allowed corporations to cut large numbers of trees on private property as well as several public trees, often without public hearings or necessary permits (e.g. wetland permit for work at Jerry's Pit).

Great Swamp Legacy Forum on June 13 at Lesley University

On June 13 Lesley University hosted a forum of conservation groups and experts in a diverse range of fields to discuss the challenges that climate change will cause for residents and governments in places like Cambridge. Possible solutions were also discussed. You can check out the event flyer here and the press release here.

Natural Systems are the future for climate change

The Quadrangle area has a rare urban green space that is a paradise for wildlife and a living laboratory that allows us to see the effects of both climate change and excessive development, such as the 2000 plus units planned for the area. Learn more and see pictures of this urban oasis here

Pathway Clearing on June 12 by Alnylam Pharmaceutical

Employess from Alnylam Pharmaceutical helped clean up a major pathway through Alewife Reservation on June 12. FAR would like to especially thank Jeff Cehelsky and Daniel Sum from Alnylam for coordinating their volunteers.

Our Addition to Google Maps: Find the Reservation Easier!

Finding Alewife Reservation is easier than ever with the addition of a Discovery Park location in Google Maps. This highlights the walking path from the Alewife T-station to the Reservation on the north side of Alewife Brook.

Local Groups promote Cambridge Climate Safety Discussion

Cambridge will experience more severe weather, including heat waves and flooding, as a result of climate change. You can learn about the Cambridge Climate Safety Proposal, developed by Cambridge residents on the Climate Safety Committee, at a discussion on June 19. More information is here.

Future plans for climate change in Massachusetts

The Baker-Polito administration has proposed $1.4 billion for "investments in safeguarding residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, protecting environmental resources, and investing in communities." More information is here.

Photo by Douglas Brown

Trees Threatened by Development at 55 Wheeler St

A massive appartment project proposed for 55 Wheeler St is currently under review and threatens several rare, precious trees. They should receive all appropriate protections in accordance with the City of Cambridge Tree Ordinance and Massachusetts General Law Chapter 87. More information, and pictures, is here.

Photo by George Mclean

This Urban Pond is Extraordinary

Local photographer George Mclean knows not only the animals of Alewife Reservation, but also some of the history of the area. You can see a recent picture he took of great blue herons nesting at Jerry's Pond and read about the complicated history of the pond here!

Increase State Parks Budget - Call Your State Senator Today

Climate change and rapid development in the Boston Area (including Alewife) threaten our environment and strain the already limited budgets of Mass DCR and organizations like Friends of Alewife. You can help by advocating for an increased budget for DCR. FAR would use additional funding for invasive species removal, flood and drought prevention and staffing.You can learn more here.

International School of Boston Cleans Up Alewife

Students from the International School of Boston cleaned up trash at Alewife Reservation. Bilingual chatting gave inspiration for 'listen up' sessions. Turtles, frogs, fish and fowl were everywhere to be seen.

Photo by Stanley Rullman

FAR and Earthwatch Participate in iNaturalist BioBlitz

April 28 was a busy day! In addition to Mass DCR's Park Serve Day, Earthwatch showed people the iNaturalist mobile app to help collect wildlife sightings and compete in the global City Nature Challenge. Read more here.

2018 DCR Park Serve Day at Alewife

April is an important month for spring cleaning and celebrating life forms and natural resources at Alewife. Friends groups of Alewife Reservation, Jerry's Pond and Fresh Pond all celebrated the coming of spring with cleanups and youth activities, leaving most of the Alewife area devoid of familiar trash, with the exception of the Route 16 rotary area. Read more about the day's activities here.

Photo by Jorge Royan

FAR signs onto EPA Clean Power Act continuance

Friends of Alewife Reservation has signed onto a letter encouraging EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to abandon his reckless effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan. You can read the letter, and see the other 93 citizen groups that signed on, here.

Lesley Students and FAR conduct Biochar soil experiments at Blair Pond

Students from an ecology class at Lesley University worked with Friends of Alewife Reservation to set up planting experiments using biochar. Biochar is a carbon-rich soil additive that provides nutrients for plants as well as habitat for beneficial fungus that grow in association with plant roots ('mycorrhizae'). Thanks to Sierra Club and Green Cambridge for providing the Biochar. Pictures.

Affordable Housing vs Environmental Protection - A false dichotomy

Affordable housing and environmental protection are sometimes portrayed as being mutually exclusive, but it doesn't have to be that way. A recent local media article describes how smart planning can encourage affordable housing while maintaining livable communities, and a healthy environment (including intact floodplains) makes West Cambridge livable.

Earth Day Cleanup at Jerry's Pond

Friends of Jerry's Pond invites you to join them for the second annual Earth Day Cleanup on Sunday, April 22 from 2:30pm to 5:30pm. Refreshments will be served. For more information, see their recent newsletter.

Park Serve Day at Alewife Reservation: April 28

Friends of Alewife Reservation invites you to join fellow supporters of urban wildlands on Park Serve Day on Saturday, April 28 from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Volunteers will work together to remove trash from Alewife Reservation, maintain trails and improve the health of the ecosystem in this floodplain region. See the flyer for more information.

Good turnout at Cambridge Science Festival

Sixty eager nature enthusiasts joined the 'Walk on the Wild Side' led by Boston widlife specialist David Brown. Thank you to all who came out to celebrate our precious urban wildlands!

MyRWA Stewardship Opportunities Calendar

The Mystic River Watershed Association is one of FAR's most valued partners in the effort to conserve our vital wetlands and waterways. Their 2018 Stewardship Opportunities calendar, which shows upcoming volunteer and learning events, is now available and can be viewed here.

2018 Park Serve Day and Earth Day

Friends of Alewife Reservation invites you to join fellow supporters of urban wildlands on Park Serve Day on Saturday, April 28 from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Volunteers will work together to remove trash from Alewife Reservation, maintain trails and improve the health of the ecosystem in this floodplain region. You can also help with a cleanup at McDonald's Park in Medford, MA on Earth Day (Saturday, April 21). See the flyer for more information on both events.

Wildlife Tour: Sunday April 8 at Noon

A Wildlife Tour is scheduled for Alewife Reservation on Sunday, April 8 from noon - 2pm. The walk will be led by Alewife naturalist and photographer Jake Stout. Meet at the entry bridge near the Alewife T Station. See you there! You can checko out the complete flyer here.

FAR will participate in local biodiversity conference on March 31

The Sierra Club's Greater Boston Group and Biodiversity for a Livable Climate are sponsoring a 1-day conference on how each of us can revitalize the local ecosystems that will help us weather the impacts of climate change. The conference will be held at Harvard University's Geological Lecture Hall and registration is $10. More information is available here. See you there!

Walk on the Wildside: April 14

David Brown, a noted Boston-area wildlife specialist familiar with the area, will lead a Wildlife Tracking Walk at Alewife Reservation on April 14 from 10am - noon. This event is part of the 2018 Cambridge Science Festival and attendance is free! The Science Festival runs from April 14 - April 21. See you there!

Lesley University Students Prepare Blair Meadow for Vegetation Experiments

The Lesley University Ecology Class of Dr. Amy Mertl has begun spring preparation for Friends of Alewife Reservation by mixing one part biochar to 3 parts compost to allow microbial action to begin to enrich the soil for this season's vegetation experiments at Blair meadow in Cambridge on the Belmont border. You can read more about the students' efforts and 'biochar' here.

Cambdridge 5k Run and walk on April 8th

The 32nd annual Cambridge City 5k run and Andrea Harvey Fund Walk will be held on Sunday, April 8th. Both routes start and end at the track at Danehy Park. This event is sponsored by Friends of Cambridge Athletics and proceeds will benefit Cambridge Rindge Latin School students and the Andrea Harvey Fund. You can find out more about the event and register here .

Online option for petition to Pause Alewife Developments

Extensive development in the Alewife area continues to move forward even as the Envision Cambridge Alewife Working Group (EC) and Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience Alewife Working Group (CCPR) prepare their reports. Mike Nakagawa from the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance has prepared a petition asking the City Council to pause the development process until the EC and CCPR reports are published. You can read and sign the petition here.

Early Spring Alewife Wildlife Walk

A Wildlife Walk is scheduled for Alewife Reservation on Sunday, March 18 from 2-4pm. The walk will be led by Alewife naturalist and photographer Jake Stout. Meet at the entry bridge near the Alewife T Station. See you there!

Building Permit at 55 Wheeler St. Questioned by FAR

Development proposed for 55 Wheeler St in Cambridge is unwisely located in the Alewife floodplain. Given the projected impacts of climate change, floodplain overlay zoning regulations need even more careful scrutiny. You can read FAR president Ellen Mass's letter to the Cambridge Planning Board here.

Local Environmental Journalism Is Powerful Source of Knowledge

Heather Goldstone is the science editor at WCAI radio, the NPR station for Cape Cod and nearby islands, and has her finger on the pulse of develpoments in important environmental issues like Climate Change. You can follow her work by tuning into 90.1FM or by visiting the WCAI website.

Photo by Claire O'Neill

New England Aquarium Volunteers Clean at Alewife Reservation

Seventeen volunteers from the New England Aquarium Live Blue Service Corps removed trash and invasive plants at Alewife Reservation. The event was sponsored by Friends of Alewife Reservation and will help keep the wetlands and watershed clean for the plants, animals and people who rely on it.

If you are looking for other opportunities to help keep Alewife Reservation and other parks clean, keep your eyes open for announcements of projects on Mass DCR's Park Serve Day (April 28, 2018).

Friends of Fresh Pond Reviews its outdoor public benefits and lists February Programs.

Alewife Reservation and Fresh Pond Reservation are migratory flyways, and in the middle of the night serve as important wildlife corridors. Conservation measures in the area are required for preservation of rare natural resources. However, development of much of the outlying areas from these 2 Reservations will impact these resources.

We encourage Cambridge, Arlington and Belmont families and neighbors to participate in preserving this rare regional ecosystem from the Mystic River watershed for generational posterity. See a list of recreational opportunities sponsored by Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation here

Public Responses to draft CCPR are available for review and need to be publicized

The official public comment period for the draft Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience report prepared by the City of Cambridge ended on January 31, and the comments are now available for review. We need the existing responses publicized to make sure all Alewife stakeholders are involved. You can still have your say by posting in the 'Additional Feedback' section or supporting the feedback posted by FAR president Ellen Mass. You can read her feedback here.

International Biodiversity Group in Cambridge Brought experts together

In November of 2017, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate held a conference at Harvard University exploring how restoration of Earth's ecosystems might help mitigate (or even reverse) the impacts of Climate Change. You can read the conference program and watch videos from the many distinguished speakers here.

West Cambridge Developments now permitted at Alewife Quadrangle

Almost a dozen projects are currently under development and have been permitted in or near the Alewife Quadrangle. Most are located in the 100-year flood zone. A complete list of projects can be viewed in the City of Cambridge development log. You can also explore interactive maps showing developments planned for flood zones and the assessed value of vulnerable parcels.

DCR Citizen Forester, February, 2018

In this issue:

  • DCR Arbor Day Poster Contest
  • Mass. Tree Wardens’ Annual Conference
  • Species Spotlight: Staghorn sumac, Rhus typhina
  • Mass. Tree Wardens’ Annual Conference
  • Growing Greener: Concord
  • Webcasts, Classes, Upcoming Conferences, Events, News, and more!
FAR Alewife Symposium Thank You Letter

FAR president Ellen Mass has submitted a letter to the Cambridge Chronicle thanking the organizers of and participants in the recent Alewife Symposium Conference held at Tufts University. Sponsored by the Cambridge-based Earthos Institute, the conference brought together scientists, community advocates, city councilors and others to explore options for managing the Alewife area, with an emphasis on preserving its natural areas, in the face of a rapidly-changing climate. You can read the letter here.

Reminder: Alewife Corridor Resilience Symposium Starts January 19

Earthos Institute and Tufts University invite you to a symposium on Alewife corridor collaborative resilience. The symposium will bring together the Alewife corridor communities of Belmont, Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, and Winchester to look at the Alewife flood plain in its entirety, and explore collaborative scenarios for tackling issues of resiliency and climate adaptation. More information can be found here.

FAR Recommends Stormwater Wetland Project for Quad properties in Belmont

Proposed developments in the Quadrangle area of Belmont will raise flooding risk and further impair local water quality. FAR recommends construction of a stormwater wetland across the railroad tracks south of the wetland bordering Belmont to mitigate those risks. Parcels in the floodplain that could serve as the basis of a stormwater wetland should be purchased. You can learn about the successful stormwater wetland project near the Alewife T station here.

Photo by Jake Stout

FAR Responds to City Climate Preparedness Draft and requests others do so

FAR president Ellen Mass has drafted a report showing why remaining Alewife must remain open space. It contains links and references to many useful resources. FAR Response to City. The report includes a link to a history of Little River, including antique maps.

Details of the CCPR and instructions on how to submit comments are here.

More bird life on Alewife Little Pond

Some birds migrate south for winter, but these great blue herons spotted at Little Pond decided to stick around. You can watch a short video of them here.

Mystic River Watershed Association comments on city Climate Plans in watershed

The Mystic River Watershed Association, a valuable partner in protecting the watershed that includes Alewife Brook and Little River, has sent the City of Cambridge a letter raising several concerns with the Envision Alewife Plan released on November 20. You can read the letter with MyRWA's concerns and recommendations here.

Photo by Jake Stout

Alewife Wildlife Abounds in Winter

From the walk report:Today was a very cold day so we only went on the north side of little river. We saw hooded mergansers along the river, mallards, starlings, three blue herons, a red tailed hawk, and a pair of white tailed deer. Despite the cold there were many wildlife sightings. Overall a very nice walk. Check out pictures from the walk!

FAR responds to City Climate Change Display Presentation

On Nov 30, the City of Cambridge released a draft plan to minimize climate-related flood risks to Cambridge residents and businesses. Some local businesses and environmental advocacy groups, however, cited important concerns. Friends of Alewife Reservation President Ellen Mass suggested that restoration of porous marshland, which allows rainwater to filter into the ground, should be a priority. You can read local media coverage here.

Earthos Institute and Tufts University to host Alewife Climate Resilience Sympoium

Earthos Institute and Tufts University invite you to a symposium on Alewife corridor collaborative resilience. The symposium will bring together the Alewife corridor communities of Belmont, Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, and Winchester to look at the Alewife flood plain in its entirety, and explore collaborative scenarios for tackling issues of resiliency and climate adaptation. More information can be found here.

International Biodiversity Group in Cambridge brings experts together

In 2016, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate held a conference at Harvard University exploring Earth's biodiversity and how it benefits humanity. You can watch videos from the presentation here. The director of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Adam Sacks, has also written an article illustrating that biodiversity, not geo-engineering, holds the key to addressing climate change. That article can be read here.

America's First Day Hikes in our Region

The Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced dates for the the 2018 'First Day Hikes.' Family-friendly hikes will be provided on January 1 at seven state parks across the Commonwealth, as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative. Hikes at Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord (12pm) and at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus (10am) are the closest. You can read the full press release, including the complete list of times and locations, here.

Artwork by Stephanie Liu

Amazing water color of eagle at Belmont's Little Pond

Regular visitor Stephanie Liu has taken many great videos of bald eagles at Little Pond in Belmont. Now she has captured eagle behavior in another medium: watercolor! It really is an impressive work of art! You can see a larger image here.

Charles River Watershed Association Explains its Water Quality Duties

Developments proposed for the West Cambridge Quadrangle will add thousands of units and increase stormwater discharge (some of it contaminated with harmful bacteria) to Little River, which received a 'D' grade in the last round of federal water quality assessment. A rigorous water quality testing program, like that used by the Charles River Watershed Association in the Charles River, is needed in the Alewife subwatershed of the Upper Mystic River Watershed.

Video from the Climate Resilience Candidates Forum: Alewife Flooding Addressed

Many of the consequences of Climate Change will be felt at the local level, and how we plan for the future will determine our ability to sustain our quality of life. Cambridge residents had an opportunity to hear what candidates for City Council knew and thought about this important topic on September 26. Video of the forum has been posted here. Discussion of Alewife floodplain protections occurs at ~1:49:00.

Is Cambridge Climate Resilience Planning Left to Boston?

Climate change is here and it will dramatically affect the lives of Cambridge residents in the future. A recent article suggests that the lives and property of those residents will depend on the Coastal Resilience Solutions (including a sea wall) proposed by the City of Boston. Meanwhile, some meteorologists are saying our unusual weather is mostly related to an 'El Niño' effect. You can check out the Cambridge Climate Protection Action Committee's November Climate Bulletin here.

Picture taken by Christopher Addis

FAR and others lobby for Mass Parks and Water at Beacon Hill

Friends of Alewife Reservation president Ellen Mass joined Gabby Queenlan from Massachusetts Rivers alliance and others to advocate at the state legislature for parks and clean water. They met with Cambridge representative Mike Connolly. One of the primary goals was to call for an increase to the DEP and DCR budgets. The 'Lobby Day' event was sponsored by the Environmental League of Massachusetts. Picture. TV station WWLP provided coverage of this important citizen effort.

DCR Citizen Forester, November, 2017

In this issue:

  • Income, equity and the urban forest
  • Species Spotlight: Common witchhazel, Hamamelis virginiana
  • TREE Fund webinar
  • Grants, Webcasts, Events, Resources, and more!
Webinar Training for lobbying at the state house on behalf of parks and water

November 2 is Lobby Day at the Massachusetts State House, and the Environmental League of Massachusetts wants to help you learn how to effectively advocate on behalf of parks and water. They have organized a free online training event on Oct 30 from noon - 1pm that will cover the Lobby Day agenda, materials to bring, a 'Budget 101' and other useful information. You can register here. FAR needs your advocacy!

Picture by Maria Smith

Aquarium Volunteers Team Up with Friends of Alewife Reservation for Cleanup

Volunteers from the New England Aquarium 'Live Blue Service Corps' came to Alewife Reservation to help remove wood pallets found in Little River.The volunteers also mapped invasive vegetation so FAR could apply to the Conservation Commission for permission to do further cuttings. Pictures.



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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.
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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.

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Right now, view the wildlife-rich North Trail of Alewife Reservation.
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The Birds of the Cambridge Region of Massachusetts

by William Brewster 1906
Nuttal Ornithological Society

Biodiversity Study of Alewife Reservation Area: Species, Habitat, Ecosystems

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Updated Dave Brown Inventories (2008, 2010)

Inventories of Alewife Reservation Wetland Plants by Walter Kittredge, Botanist (2013)
 
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