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FAR Campers Advocate for Forest at State House
week of August 18, 2009 — Arlington Advocate

Campers from Cambridge visited the State House, August 6th, for a hearing on the Silver Maple Forest of the Belmont Uplands. The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture headed by Senate Chair Anthony Petruccelli and House Chair William Straus heard Representative William Brownsberger's proposed Bill 701, to acquire the forest in collaboration with the surrounding municipal communities. Three of the campers, Brian Haggerty-Perreault, Elijah Scott, and Charlie Carbone testified. They described the forest as a valuable environmental educational resource for the youth of Cambridge, Belmont, and Arlington, who would lose out with the destruction of the forest, because it is presently a wildlife refuge accessible by public transportation with many lessons which cannot be learned in the classroom. Elijah Scott spoke about life as an urban youth, "I'm used to living with many cars, buildings, and people. When we go out to the reservation, particularly the silver maple forest, I feel like I am in a totally different world. It feels good to be able to get out of my natural setting and into the forest with the silver maple trees." Brian Haggerty-Perreault also pointed to the rarity of such a forest within dense urban populations. Charles Carbone highlighted each animal species that uses the forest as their habitat such as deer and fox, which they saw several times. Campers used a 5 foot GIS map of the reservation to show the strategic corridor and forest location to the Committee. Camp Supervisor, Katherine Walsh, pointed to social, economic, and health benefits, and campers' reactions to their work projects and earth science lessons. Sue Bass of Belmont Citizens Forum testified to the importance of the Belmont region as well. After the Hearing the youth, were guided by Representative Brownsberger, to the Governor's office to deliver letters from all campers requesting that the forest be preserved.

The last camp day, August 14h, Ecology youth toured the Alewife Reservation and shared Bertuccis pizza with the Arlington boys and Girls Club hosted by the Campers.

Katherine Walsh
FAR Summer Ecology Camp