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FAR Thanks and calls on DCR to do Right by Ecosystems of Alewife Reservation
by Ellen Mass, February 2, 2008

Large red-tailed hawks chased each other this morning over Little River's north banks. The newly created wetlands area of the 4 acre open meadow area has mixed success. Just south of the north river meadow pathway were 13 male mallards and 12 females, with several Canada geese, all flapping around in the clear water. The new wetland plants introduced by DCR were clearly attracting the ducks as they spent time gathering the plant parts. However, elsewhere on the meadow, large amounts off water have no where to go as there are no swales but to overflow the pathways, and the canoe launch effort is nothing but some rocks and soft sand that turns to mud when wet. There are no overlooks and no where to sit and nothing for the canoer or kayak visitor. Just east of the path entry by the auto ramp, phragmites are filling in the swales made for wetlands, and no one is allowed to stop them. These are serious problems for the new Master Plan, and FAR is hoping to talk to the DCR. Worst of all is the culvert problem under the newly made bridge which is blocked, and the water that always moved in and out of Little River cannot do so.

We will need to talk further and get these problems fixed. After 5 years of advocacy, how can this be? Perhaps the efforts are going elsewhere. We were very fortunate to have a representative visit and recognize our amazing contributions over the years, but until now Alewife Reservation is on the bottom rank, and it will take the entire task force board to gain the basic and essential amenities for our rare and sacred urban wild Reservation.

It is indeed gratifying to see the new swales and some plantings which are attracting wildlife, but quite a few are dead. We hope to have discussions with appropriate sources so neglect and halfway job will not continue, and either volunteers are allowed to maintain what is essential to maintain, and to remove dangerous invasive phrags which will take over our new meadow in short time. Last summer we had the volunteer opportunity to remove many of the plants but were not given the permit. Hopefully someone will take on this task of mediating this problem.

FAR will also try once again to keep the north trail open (one mile) our only trail to LIttle Pond and to the west of the forest for edge habitat for animals, and for birders, trackers, school groups and others. We will try to open the pathway and eliminate dangers to the public with another grant. At present it is unsafe and it needs to be made safe for their passage. We hope to try again for the SCA grant which was almost granted to us by both Belmont and Cambridge but not DCR. While there are challenging issues at the Uplands this should not stop the public from enjoying the area, and using a long existing path to Little Pond and to the woodland area. This pathway has been used for the last 10 years for docent groups and for DCR visitors.

Of great inspiration of what can be done in the area can be seen by Bulfinch Co. and BSC at the western end of the Smithsonian building where a basin, wetland plants and a viewing area for the public is a model for a small basin, but also attracts wildlife and prevents invasives from advancing. All of the plants are living.