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Editorial Update on Silver Maple Forest
October 4, 2007

One thousand post cards were delivered to Governor Deval Patrick's office from "Save The Silver Maple Campaign", a campaign originating from the legislative hearing at the State House promoting House Bill 21 of Rep. Brownsberger and other legislators, to purchase the property from the budget of the Environmental Bond Bill.

Fifteen watershed legislators from Suffolk and Middlesex Counties, have written a letter to the Governor stating support of the forest acquisition bill, stating, "We feel that the Silver Maple Forest property, which HB21 would acquire, is an urban gem of regional value and significance."

Thomas Bracken continues to represent the plaintiffs who live around the Pond and who are raising funds for the attorney, hydrologist, ecotoxicologist, ecologist and sewer-storm-water specialist. The court process is still underway.

The Conservation Commission of Belmont has hired a high level environmental firm to study the case in behalf of the Commission and the town, to respond to the developer's NEW Notice of Intents. The Commission has been working hard to respond to the owner with well read and well understood wetlands protection information. A four hour site visit took place recently, and the Commission has delayed any public meetings until many more questions about the project are answered.

In summary, four levels of public education are in process:

The Belmont Conservation Commission's renewed scrutiny of the Notice of Intent which changes every week or so, the Plaintiffs with civil action, and the Save the Forest campaign. Conservation activities have taken place on the Reservation all summer and birding has continued into the fall, depicting large scale and diverse species presence.

MEPA has accepted the developer's changes as insignificant.

Cleanups are planned for October 07 with classrooms.

At the most recent Cambridge City Council panel of candidates and incumbents, most of the candidates had no opinion and were ill-informed of the issue. They do not know that the largest of Cambridge wetlands will be impacted by the development's grading and run off. This was highly disconcerting to hear because the question was posed in a wholistic manner. Seven years ago, the City did a full study of the Cambridge wetlands which is in official files, but has disappeared from the Commission's view. The Commission also does not have a city by-law. Over 150 municipalities in Massachusetts do. This will hurt our protections of our wetlands. Belmont is working on by-laws.

It is hoped that the Cambridge Commission will apprise itself further of these facts. It is a fact that the developer his visited city officials many times, despite 4 resolutions supporting open space for the forested area, and not accepting the developer's plan of sewage through Cambridge. At Green Decade panel discussion, the silver maple forest was responded to as a place where the developer should be given his will, no matter what he wants to do on his property, a very disappointing response from our city leader.

After Belmont completes its hearings, Cambridge is scheduled to take up the developers proposals of the possibilities of sewage infrastructure built to run through the floodplain wetland drainage area. at Discovery Park. These are our richest birding, amphibian, isolated and vernal areas of the 130 acre nature preserve.

Many initiatives are working to bring in the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, whose marshes, wetlands, potential vernal pools and edge habitat for many mammals and birds, will be severely impacted. We feel that there has been much pressure by the proponent in this area. If reason prevails, however, it can be demonstrated that the best interests of the DCR are to get behind HB21 which proposed to purchase the upland and rare forest, the core buffer of the Reservation, in behalf of the DCR. This will make Alewife Reservation, on one of the largest transporation arteries in the Boston area, a wonderful, and unsurpassed wildlife refuge for one of the densist population areas in the mentropolitan region.

FAR continues to lead in this endeavor and calls on representatives of agencies and institutions to join our organization in its redevelopment efforts. Skilled Task Force leaders will share on a larger Task Force Board which can work independently with his or her constituencies with the support of a larger board. Please call the FAR offices at Alewife if you are interested in this recreation of the new FAR board which will meet soon to pla the year's specific projects and priorities, and envision your concrete goals of education for this area. These areas incllude all environmental skills from birding to water quality testing, including global warming interests that demonstrate vegetation changes through Reservation observation.

For further information about the Post Card campaign, or attending meetings, call the campaign, 617 489-6770. For further FAR activities on the Reservation, call 617 415-1884. For volunteering for expertise on the law suit, call 617 489-2780. Looking for an eco-toxicologist and traffic expert. Photos and studies are in place.