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Alewife Ecosystem and Rare Silver Maple Forest Threatened
Background information for May 15, 2004 springtime celebration
cited from Ellen Mass article by Friends of Alewife Reservation, Cambridge Chronicle

(See also: Many local organizations, environmentalists and residents are greatly concerned about impacts from developing the Belmont "Uplands", a forested area within the greater Alewife ecosystem, sometimes called "wetlands". The threatened forest connects with many acres of Cambridge wetlands, and is a rich wildlife corridor through Cambridge, Belmont and Arlington with river flow through the Route 16 greenway north to the Mystic River. Recently river otter were discovered in the area. Their concerns, which are well documented range from dumping, water quality and flooding in the Alewife area, to loss of open space, habitat and biodiversity. The forest and proposed former commercial and now residential developments would be situated in the wooded core of the Alewife ecosystem adjacent to Belmont's Little Pond, near Little River between city and town, upstream of Alewife Brook. Clear-cutting the forest would be required to accommodate both differently zoned developments. Belmont Alternative Group, with assistance by FAR is presently proposing a land swap to town officials in order to keep the Uplands as open space.

This area is prime for recreational and educational uses, according to the Alewife master plan completed in 2003 by the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and by Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR), which has been the most active on the Reservation with regular activities and projects for the general public, bringing groups out and stewarding for the past 5 years. DCR, with whom FAR coordinates, owns and manages the public land. According to land and water priorities of the State's Natural Heritage Program, this rare silver maple forest should be preserved through the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs' land preservation program. Important criteria cited are its unusual status as a "small northern floodplain forest" in the Boston Basin and a vital wildlife corridor. A Riverways grant allowed FAR to inventory over 90 bird and 16 mammal species. More have been discovered since the 2001 professional inventories.

Replacing this largest and most unique natural forest in the Boston Basin with condominiums would represent a critical loss of natural habitat to the area . Others who have been active on this issue ar the Belmont Citizens Forum, First Parish Environmental Group, Coalition for Alewife and Alewife Study Group.