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Muskrat Marsh Team Meeting Minutes - July 12, 2005

Location: Bulfinch Co. Meeting Hall, Cambridge Discovery Park
Date/Time: July 12, 2005 10:00 am
On July 12th, 2005, the Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR) sponsored a meeting of the Muskrat Marsh Team in the Bulfinch Co. Meeting Hall in Cambridge Discovery Park. The team met to discuss the progress of ongoing research on the watershed (or "Muskrat Marsh") surrounding Little Pond and Little River in the Alewife Brook Reservation. Members in attendance included representatives of FAR, the Coalition for Alewife, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, the Horsley Witten Group, and Lesley University. The team discussed the best ways to monitor water quality, levels, and flow rates and chart the topography of the area. The group has already mapped the different types of vegetation and soil within the marsh. The long-term goal of the team is to assimilate all the biological, hydrological, and topographical data they collect into a proposal for a full restoration of the Muskrat Marsh and to gain state funding for the project. Ultimately, the team hopes improve the ecological function of the approximately 12 acres of degraded wetland.

Tthe minutes of the meeting are below. For more information about the Muskrat Marsh Team and how you can become involved in the restoration of the marsh please contact the office of the Friends of Alewife Reservation.

--Emma Zinsmeister, Friends of Alewife Reservation summer intern

In Attendance:
Neal Price (Horsley Witten Group)
Jeremy Bell (MA Office of Coastal Zone Management)
Susan Burke (Lesley University)
Dave Morimoto (Lesley University)
Don Bockler (FAR volunteer)
Stew Sanders (FAR steering board)
Steve Keliser (Alewife Coalition)
Elsie Fiore (Alewife Coalition/MyRA)
Emma Zinsmeister (FAR intern)

Ingeborg Hegemann
Tim Smith
Marc McQueen
Cori Beckwith
Jennifer Wright
William Taylor
Susan Redlich
Darrell King
Larry Boutiette
Bruce Carlisle
Mark DiOrio
Bill Parmenter
Ellen Reed

Update from Susan and Dave:
  • Vegetation Mapping:
    • 4-5 days work with GPS completed = 25 files containing boundaries of vegetation types on scale of 25m, smaller scale not looked at unless unique feature.
    • Data to go to Jeremy/Tim Smith for analysis.
    • Buildings and new well not mapped. Did not walk around perimeter of water while collecting data. Tim Smith said would look at data and determine if this should be done. Dave offered inflatable boat to use.
  • Elevation Mapping:
    • Not yet completed - waiting for level.
    • Steve recommends using NGVD system for consistency when this data is collected.
  • Water Quality Monitoring:
    • Not yet completed.
    • Probes available - may not be the best equipment out there.
    • Would like to test for nitrates, ammonia, and phosphates, but do not have appropriate solutions yet.
  • Water Level Monitoring:
    • Susan and Don have taken measurements at 6 of 7 wells so far.
    • Seventh well in middle of marsh and exact location not yet determined.
    • Have flow meters and guidelines for monitoring, but have not used - may not be the best equipment out there.
  • Soil Testing:
    • NRCS has surveyed 7-8 sites and created profiles of organic soil material.
    • NRCS may have done profiles of fill, but need to hear back from them.

General consensus: Need feedback on quality of data already collected and additional data before progress can be made on a report/grant application. Should be OK since Tim Smith pointed out in comments on agenda that there are no grants that match up with this project and have deadlines in the fall.

Needs for Future:
  • Vegetation Mapping:
    • Should be complete unless Tim Smith says otherwise upon analyzing data.
    • Future concern may be fill areas with trees.
  • Elevation Mapping:
    • Will need 1-2 volunteers to complete in a timely fashion - Elsie suggested stakeholders from community in order to involve the public.
    • Emma to do outreach and find volunteers.
  • Water Quality/Level Monitoring:
    • MA Office of CZM will dedicate GPS to project for rest of summer.
    • May need better equipment for measuring nitrates and flow.
    • Stew to contact MyRA water quality experts for suggestions about monitoring.
    • Neil suggests that focus should be water budget and determining how to get more water into the marsh - water quality should come second (not as pertinent to project goals). This will include:
      • Mapping: 1) the natural watershed of the immediate area and 2) the storm drainage to the area - Neil to determine #1 and Jeremy working on #2.
      • Flow readings: posts for gauges should extend 2-3 ft above water level and 6-10 measurements should be taken between now and end of September. At each site, width of river should be divided into 20 segments and a reading should be taken within each segment at 6/10 total depth (ideally, but 0.5 ft is smallest feasible segment size). Bottom needs to be firm enough - possibly conduct at old road crossing?
    • Should be taken into consideration that Earhart Dam and tree roots both influence water level in area, in addition to rainfall and storm drainage/overflow. Stew suggests that large trees may need to be removed. Dave suggests that invasive species should be targeted.
  • Soil Testing:
    • Future work will depend on feedback from NRCS.
  • Emma and Stew to create materials for website.
  • All issues of corporate partnership/fundraising/long-term planning have been tabled until more complete data is available.