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Blair Pond in full excavation and reconstruction.
added to website February 28, 2012

Historical Pond receives a face lift of hydrological improvements, bank restoration and native plants with viewing areas and promise of ecological protections while work is underway, says Robert Lowell of DCR. Blair Pond urban wild to be protected and habitat of deer, coyote, fox and other mammals and birds that need the Blair wild for permanent nesting and denning.

Blair Pond with Ellen Mass and Robert Lowell

Blair Pond Gets Wildlife and Flooding Face Lift
Ellen Mass- Friends of Alewife Reservation

Blair Pond excavation is in full force on the residential side of Normandy Ave.

AECOM Co. contractor for the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation is presently opening up back yards for Blair Pond inundation i by an expansion of the Pond surface and depth located between Flanders Road in Belmont and Moony Street in Cambridge.

The Project may be completed by May says Robert Lowell DCR, Environmental Section Chief, who is committed to keeping Alewife Reservation wild and preserved, and appreciated in the Cambridge Highland and Belmont Winn Brook Neighborhood, and also for Alewife Reservation users who see the advantages of maximizing the diversity of ecosystems and biodiversity of the area with a high degree of native plant and hydrological improvements. .Blair Pond's water flows through Wellington Brook from west from Belmont's Claypit Pond (Belmont High School landscape) and points further west which originate at Mclean Hospital bringing high contaminants and heavy sediment loading into the Pond and into Little River . Blair was poorly maintained but played an historic role in Cambridge and Belmont farming history, and earlier in Native American life. Wellington Brook (technically a water body under the Pond), identified by US Geographical Survey as a perennial stream is flow channel from Claypit, and goes in and out of Blair under the MBTA Commuter railroad track, and then into highly isolated Perch Pond and into Little River which finds its way through the Brook and Mystic River and into Boston Harbor. Perch Pond, close to Blair, is an important roosting area for fowl and other birds., Perch may also be improved, as will improvement of the quality and quantity of Little River the main water body from Little Pond to Alewife Brook. Unfortunately the history and identification of these water bodies is incorrect, and Little River is mistaken, often, for Alewife Brook., which was filled in at Fresh Pond mall area Technically, Little River and Little Pond and Blair and Perch are a sub-watershed of the Mystic River watershed. Little River should be renamed its original name, "Menotomy River" after our descendants, the Native Americans, who inhabited the area for centuries before early settlers farmed, and before 19th century intense industry developed the area.

Now that nature has returned to us, we should do all in our power to conserve what is left of our "great swamp" and early farming history, and that means to protect the ancient willow trees that shade the Pond. for the sake of climate change and flood protection and species survival and contemplation at a time of great busyness and difficulty around us. Hooded catch basins should be attached to the culverts coming into Blair with sediments and contaminants from Belmont.

Blair is relatively isolated and a haven for wild animals, and loved by birders, as FAR wildlife assessor Dave Brown notes.. Blair has been commonly listed on state website, E-Birds with rare sightings such as green herons, spotted and solitary sandpiper, green-winged teal, northern pintail, northern shoveler, American black duck, American wigeon, wood ducks, sora rail, killder, lesser and greater yellowlegs, belted kingfisher, eastern kingbird, brown creeper, carolina wren, winter wren, northern parula, Lincoln's sparrow, savannah sparrow, black-throated green warbler, magnolia warbler, and many more. The watershed is approx.. 1,086 acres and keeps us healthy, safe and a high standard of living with accessible outdoor passive recreation and ecological exposure, when kept pervious and not over-developed. AECOM and DCR designed this restoration project as "one that meets the wetland resource area performance standards to the greatest extent possible," says AECOM's Theresa McGovern in Westford, Ma.

A temporary stream channel presently carries flow while the Pond is drawn down for dredging. The channel construction sheets material will remain until then. The northern bank excavated with over 1000 plants and many trees will be introduced , according to Lowell and site manager. Plantings soon will be shrubs, wattles, whips (live stakes) with a densely wooded thicket of 6,600 sf. Along the edges, there will be 5,300 sf of bordering vegetative wetland plants and seeds, and 21,440 sf of buffer zone plants with salvaged wetlands plants removed from "near-pond" areas and new plants as well. Woody plant species include speckled alder, black willow, silky dogwood, nannyberry, pussy willow, speckled alder, buttonbush, elderberry, smooth alder, red chokeberry, red-osier dogwood, winterberry holly, and tens of thousands of native plant seeds. The public is invited to find these plants as they grow and thrive, and note which need replacements.

The plan aims 1) To restore flood control capacity 2) restore storm damage prevention 3) restore pollution prevention capacity 4) improve wildlife habitat capacity 5) restore pond aesthetics

Visitors can walk around the Pond for enjoyment, but the Pond's future depends on a large stewardship committee in order to keep utility lines, Mass Water Resources Authority, and electrical systems which are prevalent in the area from further damaging the natural resources and using the rare resource for urban discharges and corrupting the air and water quality in the area.

Two benches will be installed, and a narrow pathway which will be reduced from 20 feet to 10 feet promised. They will be placed on the north and west side of the Pond for viewing and possibly fishing if, in the future, the water quality is improved from upstream as well.