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Fire in Alewife Reservation
added to website April 27, 2006 — new photos added April 28
A serious fire occurred last week in the Alewife Reservation on the south side of the River in Cambridge that destroyed a large expanse of phragmites reeds much shrub and marsh vegetation, and edges of tree groves which included birch, ash, aspen, cottonwood, maples, oak and native grasses and cat tails. River front shrubs are used by song sparrows, cat birds, red winged blackbirds, and pheasant. The two football fields width of burnt vegetation will severely impact nesting birds, migrants, aquatic life, insects and mammals that live amongst riverfront plants.
While fires in many large forested areas, especially in the west, are excellent for controlling flamable overgrowth, an urban wild such as the Alewife Reservation cannot reproduce native plants and trees so easily because it is highly prone to invasive species of phragmites and knotweed which dominate some areas. The Reservation is showing signs of increasing stress from growing contamination of town and city, from more adjacent development with sewage discharges to the river. The area needs protection, which the city and MWRA are working on presently with the newly planned constructed wetlands that will filter and detain 90 percent of the undiluted storm water coming from south of Fresh Pond, thus improving the river's water quality and recharging ground water for a very slow moving river system.
The only truly long term and protected answer for the Reservation is to secure the DCR commitment to its preservation via its published Master Plan, and for friends of the public land to demonstrate vocally and with greater cohesion among groups, how DCR and municipal protection should proceed. Informing others of the rarity of the 'wild' in the Boston area, and visiting the area, i.e. classroom and visitor access by 'T', will educate future generations about their native environment before we lose it, and our special places and planet become more degraded and unlivable.
Call Cambridge Fire Dept. for more information 617 349-4916.