|Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR) Join Email List||
After Delay, City-Alewife Storm Water and Wetlands Restoration Plan Moves Forward
Beginning later 2009 and 2010
Many visitor and classroom amenities are provided
Cambridge Chronicle, May 20, 2009 — Letter: Alewife is a gem. Keep it that way
Storm Water Basin Brochure
GateHouse News Service
Last week, discovery of the healthy ambling coyote undaunted by human presence was viewed by FAR member, Bill Ackerley, in the silver maple forest.
More recently, a large den was sighted on the upper floodplain "uplands" by Arlington resident, Jennifer Griffith. These sightings seemed a foreshadowing of the two-month agency hearings, now concluded, between the silver maple forest and 300 proposed housing units.
While the state adjudicatory outcome is uncertain, the wildlife evidence presented last Monday at DEP regional headquarters after three-and-a-half day sessions heard by Judge Beverly Coles Roby is perhaps more promising. The judge herself may have viewed the same or similar coyote den with fresh footprints pointed out to her during the department's January 2009 preparatory site visit by consultant and witness, Chuck Katuska. Bill and birders also saw a destroyed Canada goose nest of remaining eggshells. The ecological connection between the nest and den sightings is alone sufficient reason to preserve the forest, benefiting Cambridge, Belmont and Arlington. As the geese population is unmanageable and coyote are sighted in residential neighborhoods, natural predator balance is healthy for people as well.
The wildlife and upper floodplain issues where the sightings occurred, surrounded by wetlands and lower floodplain habitats, has become a major issues in the trial. Charles J. Katuska, MFS, PWS, wetlands ecologist and forest specialist, was returned to the witness seat by discretion of Judge Roby. Representing the Belmont Conservation Commission, Attorney Lichauco made a motion to the point that the commission and interveners testified first and their witnesses were not cross-examined but dismissed, which eliminated their ability to rebut testimony given by the developer's consultants. "The defense had this benefit," meaning the developers, said Lichauco.
In her quest to establish the facts on the matter of wildlife, Judge Roby asked Mr. Katuska, "Why is this area of upper floodplain significant?" He answered, "On this isolated site, the upper floodplain habitats allow wildlife to secure the feeding, breeding and over-wintering habitat functions which are protected by the regulations." A high percentage of undeveloped floodplain is present in this area. Judge Roby also inquired, "Do these animals have other places to go?" Katuska answered, "There are always displacement habitats, but there are no areas where their lifecycles can be provided for in proximity to this site."