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LETTER: Preserve the Alewife Reservation ecosystem

To the editor:

Your editorial June 2 on water scarcity and climate change is a good global lesson in global drought and scarcity, but no reference to Cambridge in matters of water flow, quality or cleanliness of water, which pours through our city through the Charles and Mystic River watersheds.

Our situation is different as Cornell University shows a close to 70 percent precipitation increase. While Green Cambridge awards the city for its perfect green record related to net zero building success, the city is far from a green model for keeping its waters clean. Although recently with great costs, Cambridge finally and gratefully closed 2 sewer discharge connections after 15 years, performed by the Mass. Water Resources Authority — all under a broad federal court order.

The recent D- report card issued to Cambridge by US-EPA should be received as a community danger warning. The failure of West Cambridge’s watershed to pass federal government standards shows our municipal neglect of our moving waterways. The large amount of e-coli bacteria running through neighborhoods, and recent threatening blue-green algae in local west open spaces, should be studied and remedies proposed immediately in order to safeguard abutting communities, wildlife and daily urban functions.

There is no defensible reason that Belmont and Cambridge continue to avoid sitting down together to tackle source and non-point source pollution against further contamination of Little River and Alewife Brook and Little Pond, which include connections with a number of other tributary ponds.

Instead the focus has been on “planning” the area, which many of us interpret as permitting more development. Variances are being sought until 2019 or 2022 to bring in more development and commercial enterprises for the new residents.

My group, Friends of Alewife Reservation, calls on the city to consider, above all permitting, the metaphor, goose laying the golden egg. The river is attracting national developers to the tune of thousands of new units because it creates beauty and natural vistas as people move into the Boston/Cambridge area.

Why kill this magical goose, which we continue to do with high counts of phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia, and suffocation with depleted oxygen? Why not take simple measures to clean up the river, which are less expensive than many think. Million dollar fines are often doled out by EPA for communities in violation. How does Cambridge avoid these penalties? Stop catering to the wealthy as we call on Donald Trump to do. Cater to the neighborhoods, natural resources and to a healthy environment for city residents. Allow life to go on. Preserve the Alewife Reservation ecosystem.

— Ellen Mass and Kathleen Johnson, members of Friends of Alewife Reservation

Article preserved 2016-06-18 from

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Aggregated by David Landskov of Sustainable Arlington and FAR board member.
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About Friends of Alewife Reservation

The Alewife Reservation is a unique natural resource for the communities of Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge and home to hundreds of species, including hawks, coyotes beavers, snapping turtles, wild turkeys and muskrats, the reservation is a unique natural resource for the community.
Historical information (Powerpoint)

Friends of Alewife Reservation works to protect and restore this wild area and the surrounding area for the water quality, native plants, animals and over 90 bird species with paths for walking, running and biking, recreation, and for classroom education and research. We regularly steward and preserve the Reservation area for wildlife and for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

photo of nature walk

About Friends of Alewife Reservation
Statement of Purpose
Virtual Tour
Right now, view the wildlife-rich North Trail of Alewife Reservation.
MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
Master Plan for Alewife Reservation
Citizen Forester newsletter archive
History of Cambridge
Free Download from Google Play
The Birds of the Cambridge Region of Massachusetts

by William Brewster 1906
Nuttal Ornithological Society

Biodiversity Study of Alewife Reservation Area: Species, Habitat, Ecosystems

Inventories by David Brown, wildlife assessor (2003, 2004.) Published by and available from FAR for $10. Write or call for your copy. (sample)

Updated Dave Brown Inventories (2008, 2010)

Inventories of Alewife Reservation Wetland Plants by Walter Kittredge, Botanist (2013)
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