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Potential development of the Belmont Uplands,
the only Silver Maple forest in the area
letter to Henrietta Davis
March 4, 2003
Dear Henrietta Davis,
As students of environmental studies, we are alarmed by the potential development of the Belmont Uplands, the only Silver Maple forest in the area. Not only will there be an impact the habitats of that environment, there will be negative effects on the surrounding communities as a whole. The removal of this forest on will undoubtedly have undetermined negative effects on the surrounding area. There is also a great deal to gain from preserving the area. By keeping this urban wild available to the public, a love for nature can be fostered in the community. "By community I mean, rather, places in which the bonds, between people and the natural world create a pattern of connectedness, responsibility, and mutual need."
The parking lot near the Belmont uplands illustrates the probable consequences of development. The lot has been found to be too close to the river, which inhibits the natural flow of water. As a result flooding has occurred on the area and the parking lot will be removed. Developing in the proposed area is dangerously close to a pond. The same flooding will occur due to this proximity. Vernal pools are also present in the uplands. They function as a place to absorb excess moisture as well as a breeding ground for many species. If they are removed flooding of an undetermined scale will occur in addition to endangerment of various animal populations.
In the proposed development plan, the center portion of the forest will be used. This is the most critical area of the forest. If the center is destroyed the edges of the forest and surrounding ecosystems will be shattered as well. The result of these events is the debilitation of the forest's ability to contribute to the communities' balance. There are key species in any ecological system, and when they are removed the entire system dies. However, we do not know which species are key until this species is removed and the system falls apart. This is what will inevitably happen if development continues. The species left homeless are far from the only other Silver Maple forest in Concord. The only place for them to go is into the neighborhoods of Belmont and Cambridge. This poses a significant risk to people in those areas.
Another consequence of the removal of this forest will be felt in the people who will never experience the nature that resides there. "At the most common level we learn to love what has become familiar," this is especially true in children. The Uplands could easily be used for the educational purpose of exposing local children to the nature around them. They will learn to love that nature and that love will extend to their community. The result will be stronger communities and better-educated citizens. Without exposure to nature the children will become desensitized to the destruction of our natural resources. The narrow-minded thinking that results from a lack of exposure to nature can be prevented. The only way to do this is through education. "What we love only from self-interest we will sooner or later destroy." Our children learn from our example. If they see us submitting to pressures that are driven by shallow motives, they will learn to do the same, and with dire consequences.
We strongly urge you to consider all the ramifications of the development of the Belmont Uplands. Consider the effects that extend beyond traditional thinking. The removal of this urban wild will start a chain reaction that will extend to areas we have not yet considered. Plant and animal populations will cease to exist in that area. What systems will collapse as a result? What effect will the influx of displaced animals have on out neighborhoods? There will no longer be a sanctuary from urban development. How will our children learn appreciate the world around them? Will there ever develop a love for the community in which they live? These questions are only the beginning. Do not sacrifice a vital natural resource that has immeasurable value. Consider other options and stop critical problems before they occur.