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The latest statement of purpose for FAR
A Vision for Alewife Reservation
The MDC is in the process of developing a Master Plan for land and water use in the Alewife Reservation. The Reservation is an invaluable resource that is presently in a damaged state, but serves as:
· Major Goal
Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR) offers this vision for uses in the Reservation which balance respect for wildlife habitat with access for all to ecologically focused recreation, support for educational purposes, reduction in vandalism and waste, as well as watershed protection. Any Plan for the Reservation should preserve, restore and enhance these functions.
· Group Composition
FAR is a non-profit volunteer organization, reflective of the community and dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the Alewife Reservation through volunteer efforts and cooperation with the MDC and local officials. Members and advisors include representatives of the Arlington, Belmont and Cambridge Conservation Commissions and the Mystic River Watershed Association, as well as neighbors and local naturalists and conservationists, strollers, teachers, business persons, bikers and commuters.
FAR has brought region-wide attention to the Reservation through FAR-sponsored activities, news articles and publications. Using volunteer efforts and funding from private and public sources, FAR has identified and inventoried wildlife in the reservation, sponsored educational biodiversity days with local schools, led interpretive walks, participated in Riverways “Stream Team” to scrutinize the Little River shores and Alewife Brook channel, and participate in water quality testing. FAR has engendered and advocated for resources in the Reservation.
The Reservation currently suffers from neglect and misuse. In the absence of defined walking paths, sensitive habitat is trampled. Dumping, drinking, camping, bonfires, motor bikes and other undesirable activities result from lack of oversight. Invasive species are spreading and driving out native plant species. Encroachment from neighboring development is occurring. Waterways are highly polluted as a result of unregulated and unfiltered sewage and stormwater runoff.
FAR will provide full assessment of wildlife habitat in order that Reservation inhabitants are well protected and cared for, and former species, revived in the area. Recommendations of wildlife specialists should be followed in the Plan.
Substantive trails, with handicapped accessible routes should be defined with overlooks and secluded observation points established to reduce random roaming and outdoor living abuse. Boardwalks will help to protect habitat and prevent marsh and wetland damage; trails must be kept back from the water’s edge; wetlands and vernal pools must be protected and restored. An increase in legitimate use will reduce vandalism, dumping and destruction. Invasive species should be removed and the areas replanted with appropriate native varieties that will attract wildlife.
There should be fully developed signage at the entrance of the MDC Reservation and around the perimeters. One defined path and lookout access to Yates Pond should be developed for employees, commuters and bikers. In general, walking paths should be narrow. In addition, there should be specialized birding paths and blinds throughout. A circular walking path of around three miles that crosses to the north side of the Little River should be included. Bicycles should be limited to the existing Bike Path, which should be improved and identified as a connection to the Minute Man Bike Trail. Consideration must also be given to controlled emergency and maintenance vehicle access.
· Handicapped Accessibility
Access should be provided for the handicapped and elderly to the maximum extent compatible with protection of wildlife habitat.
Maps and leaflets for self-guided trails should be provided at the entrances. There should be a gathering area for school groups and others in the meadow area near the T-station. Interpretive displays covering historical locations as well as wildlife should be provided. Substantial information on seasonal wildlife behavior and needs must be well publicized, and rules and regulations adhered to. Qualified rangers should be available at the onset of the Park Refuge opening. Developing this approach can be found at the Upper Charles River Reservation in Watertown.
FAR cooperates with the Mystic River Watershed Association in evaluating the upper reaches of the Mystic Watershed, which includes the Reservation, and supports its long-term goals of reduced sewerage inflow and improved water quality. FAR members and friends participate in Mystic Monitoring Network's water quality sampling. FAR recognizes that it has only been in recent months that official groups and agencies have taken any note of the interior conditions and
needs of the Reservation.