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Graham and Parks students ask to preserve forest

Ellen Mass and Mike Arnott gave biodiversity lessons to the Graham and Parks Alternative School classroom of Laura Sylvan. They spoke of what exists on the Reservation, the problems and threats. Students had collections of insects and pressed plants to show. A video of the silver maple forest was shown. It is hoped that the students will take their science project to the annual science fair. FAR offered to take the students out on a special naturalist tour. The class was asked to write a letter in behalf of the preservation efforts now going on by Friends of Alewife Reservation.

Laura Sylvan has been taking her classes to the Reservation for years.

Friends of Alewife Reservation
Box 161
1770 Mass Ave.
Cambridge, MA. 02140-2818

From Adam Krebs
Cambridge, MA. 02141

Dear Friends,
Thanks you so much for preserving our right to visit your lovely reservation. For our unit on Biodiversity in science class, our teacher, Laura Sylvan took us to the Alewife Reservation for outdoor lessons. It is heartening to know that, although there are companies and individuals who want to get rid of this beautiful space, you have stood in their way to support our right to a clean visiting spot with forest that protects the animals.

In addition to having a gorgeous location and scenery, it also serves a studious purpose. I am certain that you are aware of our travels to Alewife to gather insects and plants to study at school. If we did not have this valuable ecosystem source, it would have been especially boring and uneducational to learn about nature from textbooks and worksheets. I believe I speak for my whole class when I say thank you for the effort you and the donors in your cause have put into this great site.

With the number of open spaces and forest area decreasing and the number of businesses and residential areas increasing, there is rarely any wildlife reservation or large parks that are within accessible distance by means of the MBTA, and the parks do not have many wild plants. The Alewife reservation is developed just enough so that there are ways to get in and observe everywhere and there is a footpath and bikepath and fence.

I enjoyed my four visits to the area because it taught me something about Mother nature and human nature. It showed me that humans can help the environment and that Mother Nature and people can co-exist. While letting humans have their space, the plants and animals can have theirs.

Thanks you so much for this wonderful gift.

Adam Krebs.

Classroom of Laura Sylvan
Biodiversity Curriculum
Graham and Parks School
Linnaean Street
Cambridge , MA.02138

Ms. Laura Sylvan
Graham and Parks Alternative School
44 Linnaean St.
Cambridge, MA. 02138

Dear Mr Foy,

I am a public school teacher in Cambridge and am writing in support of keeping the Alewife Reservation as much as possible a wild and open space for the residents of Cambridge. I have found Alewife an invaluable teaching tool for my students. This year during our Biodiversity studies, we were able to quickly reach the Reservation on the "T", yet feel we were far away from the city!

My students were a bit anxious at first of being out in such a wild place. They worried about tearing their clothes on the brambles, getting dirty, or having bees sting them. But as they spent more time out there and began to learn the names of the plants and animals they found, they began to relax and see this as a special place. I have always considered it a unique place, where you can find a fox and praying mantis, yet hop on a subway to get home. I could never do this kind of field research with my junior high students without this place.

Some of my student are well to do and I know that for them, Alewife may not be the only outdoor place they can visit to study nature. I also have students whose families don't have the resources to go on trips to New Hampshire or western Massachusetts to visit parks and forests. For them, Alewife is one of the wildest, most natural places they have visited in their lives. As each day we all lose more and more acres of natural open space to development, all students have fewer and fewer opportunities to experience natural ecosystems. This makes the Alewife Reservation truly irreplaceable as a place of learning and nature study for all the students of Cambridge.

I urge you to consider the need to protect and preserve this Reservation as it is as you review any future proposals for its development (or any lands adjacent to it). Enclosed are two letters from my students who also felt very concerned. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Laura Sylvan