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Partnering to Preserve the Alewife Reservation
by Ellen Mass
added to website May 12, 2006
The largest 'untouched' urban wild in the Boston region is in danger of broad destructive incursions from all directions. The Reservation is directly on the Alewife MBTA Red Line for classes and for urban based visitors and groups for field work and independent study opportunities. The area is also close to losing its only rare silver maple buffer forest which isolated from any residential amenities; and in the future, the river's south side may be lost, presently containing extensive marshes, roosting pond, and meadows, by becoming a pedestrian short cut to the 'T' by a large planned redevelopment. While this 115 acre area is owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, it is an urban wild, full of wildlife from all towns and city which have been attracted to a complex ecosystem with 4 ponds, river and Alewife Brook, a small river floodplain forest with extensive vernal areas and more.
Friends of Alewife Reservation sees the area as a complex and almost insurmountable network of town and city politics, such that over the years, the buffers are constantly beseiged by spot zoning which take few environmental considerations into account, making it impossible to preserve this section (headwaters) of the watershed unless serious environmentalists are involved with its future. Our small non-profit (FAR) is seeking more concerned agencies and universities to get involved with helping to partner with the DCR public land owner in the area for region's open space and for students' field studies and projects. A partnership would encourage students to enhance their studies and to develop 'on site' his or her perspective for future conservation, and urban planning in general.
DCR has let it be known, on many occasions, that Alewife Reservation is not a priority in the park system; thus, it may be helpful for them to have university and agency partnerships, whereby projects such as invasive study and removal could be initiated and areas could be preserved. At present Lesley University has worked on a Muskrat Marsh project restoration plan with the land owner now in process of implementing some of the Alewife Master Plan of the DCR.
Environmental representatives of Harvard, Lesley, Tufts and MIT should meet together to discuss the possibility of partnering for field study purposes of students and university.
The area is large enough for several universities to become fully involved.