Jump to table of contents
Birder Cliff Cook observed 28 different species of birds on a recent walk at Alewife Reservation, including a cedar waxwing like in the picture to the left, and reported his findings using the eBird smartphone app. Data collected by ordinary citizens can be valuable for conservation, restoration and monitoring projects, especially when government agencies lack the funds or political leaders lack the will to do the work. Participation is fun and easy! You can see Cliff's entire list of birds, and learn about the eBird platform, here .
The City of Cambridge has released an updated presentation on climate change preparedness and resiliency under different climate change scenarios. It is a great resource for learning how climate change might affect the Cambridge area and also identifies steps to address negative impacts. You can view the presentation here .
The proceedings and findings of the 2016 Climate Congress are documented in the report "Building a Community of Response to Climate Change." The report also defines three "pathways of response" (adaptation, conservation and restoration) as well as the practices of climate citizenship. This report and video recordings of the congress sessions and discussions are available for viewing here .
Development is picking up speed in the Alewife/Quadrangle area of Cambridge. Check out the latest information on projects that are proposed, under construction or recently completed. Links to the City of Cambridge Property Database are provided for many projects. Citizens must be informed and watchful of these projects to make sure they follow all applicable environmental projection laws.
In this announcement:
Five students and a teacher from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School participated in a wildlife walk at Alewife Reservation on Saturday, December 10. It was a chilly morning, but well worth braving the elements! During the 2 hour walk on the South side of Little River, we saw a Belted Kingfisher and four muskrat lodges. (Pictures).
Friends of Alewife Reservation has advocated for years for the protection of the Alewife floodplain and urban wild, especially as the water quality at Little River has continued to fail to meet Federal Standards. We hoped that greater protections would be forthcoming since the City Manager’s office and Community Development Agency recently created climate change and Alewife committees, but sadly, that is not the case... Read the full message from FAR President Ellen Mass here .
Students from the Rindge and Latin High School Media Center have produced a phenomenal video about Alewife Reservation. Check it out here .
The USGS recently conducted an assessment of rivers in the Northeast. We hope to build a stronger water quality component into FAR’s small Perch Pond model to mirror the national policy employed by USGS this last summer.
There are streams that flow into our Little River area which should be monitored soon, as their water quality is failing
In this issue:
Join us from 10am to 1m on December 10 for a nature walk in Alewife Reservation led by Reservation Monitor Jake Stout. Meet at 10am at the Reservaton entry bridge behind Alewife T Station and dress warmly! Flyer.
This eNewsletter is the start of a regular series of updates from the U.S. Geological Survey New England Water Science Center to all of our collaborators, cooperating agencies, and others interested in the work of our Center. We will inform you of new studies and data initiatives, new reports, and current issues we are addressing—such as the abnormally dry conditions now being experienced in most of New England. Check out the full newsletter .
This article, from the journal 'Stormwater', discusses critical information for Alewife planners, designers and envisioners. Alewife still has one of the - if not THE - largest tree canopy area in Cambridge. It is NOT barren. Check out the full article .
Friends of Alewife Reservation is holding a contest for youth artists to design nature-inspired murals that will be painted on two utility boxes recently installed at Alewife Reservation. For more information, check out the project description and the project conditions .
The Community Environmental Defense Legal Fund (CELDF) advocates for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature and has produced a film documenting their work. Check out the trailer and release announcement at their website.
At FAR's 2016 annual meeting, reservation monitor Kathy Johnson gave a presentation on the life of Kronker, a great blue heron that calls Alewife Reservation home.
The book 'Buzz and Ruby and Their City Chicks,' which follows a family of local red-tailed hawks, launched to a packed house on November 6. You can watch videos from the launch event here . FAR President Ellen Mass talked about the hawk family in a 2010 interview .
The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance has released a short video of river champions talking passionately about their hopes and dreams for six very different rivers in geographically diverse areas of Massachusetts.
Friends of Alewife Reservation will hold its annual meeting next Wednesday, November 16 from 6-9pm at the FAR office in Fresh Pond Mall. For additional details, including the agenda, check out the meeting flyer. See you there!
Come to the launch event for the book 'Buzz and Ruby and Their City Chicks' on Sunday, November 6 at Hotel Atria, 220 Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge! The book will be available at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Book Ends in Winchester and on Amazon in print and Kindle editions. See the release flyer for more details
At its October 31 meeting the Cambridge City Council approved a resolution opposing plans by large property developers to build additional trails in Alewife Reservation. Those trails, if built, would have increased habitat destruction and wildlife disturbance.
Sustainable Cities Collective has published an article describing the threats posed to aquatic habitats by impervious surfaces (such as cement and roadway) and the challenges of addressing such threats. Little River and Alewife Brook face similar threats. Article.
Massachusetts DCR has published a list of upcoming programs and events. Topics include invasive species management, the Urban Forestry Today Webcast Series and the i-Tree Online Workshop. For more details, see the full list.
Curt Spaulding, Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency in New England, has written an article celebrating improvements in water quality in the Mystic River. Full article.
Global agribusiness giant Monsanto will go on trial at the Monsanto Tribunal and the People's Assembly in the Hague on October 14 - 16. Read the (Press Release) for more information. For details about the Seed Freedom movement, check out their website.
Massachusetts is currently experiencing unprecedented drought conditions causing billions of dollars of damage from negative impacts to farms, water supplies, drinking water and wells. Record low rainfall and low water tables are also threatening fish and wildlife resources and the natural processes that filter and restore our rivers, ponds and streams. (Full Article).
Cambridge Community Television has made video of the proceedings from the 2016 Climate Conference available for view online. (Day 1 ). Check back later for video from Day 2.
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has issued a press release reaffirming existing drought conditions in Massachussetts and instituting a Drought Watch in the Western Region. (Press Release).
On Friday, September 30 we were fortunate to have a group of almost 40 volunteers from Ernst & Young come to Blair Pond and Alewife Reservation to help with several important projects. Many thanks to Ernst & Young for providing an outstanding crew and to The United Way for helping coordinate! (Pictures).
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate will hold its 6th regional conference on restoring oceans at Harvard University on November 18-20. For additional information and to register, visit their (website).
FAR has followed the lives of neighborhood red tail hawks Buzz and Ruby with the help of hawk specialist Paul Robert and many outstanding photographers, including Ernie Sarro, George McClean, John Harrison and others. They have produced a memorable account of our urban raptor pair, which raised 3 broods that we watched grow to maturity and find homes at Fresh Pond or Alewife Reservation. Thanks to Wendy Dexler and Joan Kaplan for helping to keep this couple alive in our minds as an extension of our wider human family. All Alewife Brook Parkway observers enjoyed the thrill of watching our hawk family grow! (Amazon). Book launch event on Sunday, November 6 at 4pm at Hotel Tria in Cambridge.
Friends of Alewife Reservation, Earthos Institute and supporters prepared a 54 page brief to propose land and water improvements in a remote area of the western most part of the Reservation where water flows are hampered and banks are eroding. The model River Restore Project, developed by the 2015 FAR Ecology Camp, will enhance water circulation, stabilize the bank and increase biodiversity in the Perch Pond area. Project partners hope to increase fish passage, including by the alewife that give the Reservation its name, bringing more useful nutrients and enhancing the ecology of the Reservation's riparian habitats. (Permitting Plans - by Pat Loheed, Earthos Institute). (Proposed Habitat Improvements).
Climate change is an important issue for all of us as well as for future generations, and its impacts will be felt at the local as well as global scales. The 2016 Climate Congress will bring together 100 volunteer delegates from Cambridge and surrounding communities to provide recommendations on steps that concerned citizens can take to respond to climate change. (Agenda)
Three members of FAR heard and gave testimony at an August 8 public hearing at DEP headquarters at which the proposed CSO Long Term Control Plan was reviewed. The hearing also re-evaluated the $100 million price tag for the extension of the existing CSO variance held by Cambridge, Belmont and the MWRA. (Testimony and Responses). (Variance Extension Fact Sheet).
Several athletes from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School picked up trash at Alewife Reservation as part of the Friends of Cambridge Athletics Walk and Serve-A-Thon. (Pictures)
In this issue:
Over thirty volunteers from BCG Global Management Consulting helped with invasive species control at Blair Pond in Belmont on Thursday, September 22. Volunteers removed hundreds of pounds of oriental bittersweet vines, poplar saplings and Japanese knotweed. It was a great team effort! (Pictures)
Want to learn about the 1938 hurricane, the Quaboag Plantation and outdoor fun for the whole family? Consider attending the 4th annual Town Forest Conference on September 25 in North Brookfield, MA! Attendance is free. (Event Agenda)
Look at what each year's FAR Ecology Summer Camps have taught. (Ecology Summer Camps)
Good news for followers of Buzz and Belle. They had successfully fledged one chick, believed to be a male, who was called “B,” in a nest about a mile south of Buzz’s established territory in a private residential neighborhood of single-family homes. (article)
At MassDEP, 1 Winter St. Boston. Take escalator to 2nd floor, sign in at the reception desk, and proceed to rooms A&B.
Written comments will be accepted until the close of business on Friday, August 12, 2016.
Please send your letter to:
Regulatory Comment Box
1 Winter Street, 5th Floor
Boston MA 02108
Thanks to the Environmental League of Massachusetts! Bill returns to Baker this week.
Clean Energy Bills see Light of Day everywhere! (tweets)
FAR, MyRWA, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and 75+ organizations in the Green Budget Coalition urge the Legislature to override two vetoes issued by the Governor. (details)
Promoted by Environmental League of Massachusetts: US-China gathering in Boston 2017.
The US-China Climate Summit, to be hosted in Boston in 2017, presents an extraordinary international opportunity for the city and Massachusetts to show the world our leadership on climate. But what will we showcase? (Boston Globe article)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh represented Boston, one of 20 U.S. cities to participate, at a two-day U.S.-China Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit in Beijing. (Boston.com article)
Belmont continues the search to monitor and correct outfalls carrying pollution in Mystic River watershed at Winn Brook and in Little River- Belmont Citizen Herald. (article)
Friends of Alewife Reservation continues to ask that no more city permits be given on the floodplain in the quadrangle and that the newly appointed city Alewife Committee investigate the high e-coli and coliform counts presented on the city website of 2015... (article)
Jul 14: Urban Forestry Today webinar
Jul 20: i-Tree webinar: Introducing i-Tree Landscape
Jul 22: Plant Health Care Workshop
Jul 28: Down to Earth Summer Conference
Also: DCR Forestry Assistant Vacancy - Amherst
We saw many birds including Mockingbirds, a Cardinal, Yellow Warblers, Blue and Green herons, Geese, and Mallards. Even a Snapping turtle! (photos by Jake Stout)
Spotlight on Alewife Reservation and Little River: "Past, Present, and Future of Little River: Lowry Pei on history of Little River".
In the nineteenth century, the area west of Fresh Pond, extending to Little Pond in Belmont and Spy Pond in Arlington, was still known as the "Fresh Pond Marshes." Around 1860, according to Birds of the Cambridge Region by William Brewster, "the meadow grass which covered them was regularly cut and drawn off in hay wagons." The water in the marsh's streams was clear and drinkable. It was possible to canoe from Fresh Pond up the Little River, through the marshes, to Little Pond and Spy Pond without once getting out of one's canoe.
Highly recommended book-in-progress: The Water Margin: the ambiguous boundary zone between humans and water, by Lowry Pei.
Graph showing effects of high Alewife/Blair Pond phosphorus levels on algae explosions and depleted oxygen in the water.
We humans with permits are observing how the plants experiment with one another and have greatly taken a back seat to nature's diversity schemes. (photos by Ellen Mass)
Questioning 7th federal mandate Variance from City of Cambridge to DEP and EPA. More water quality deterioration expected: from D- to possible F. (article)
Read "Cambridge, Belmont Arlington and Harbor Waterways at Risk" by Ellen Mass, Kathleen Johnson.
Photo: Jake Stout and Campers view doe and 4 fawns at Alewife.
Mass Rivers Alliance convinced the Natural Resources State Committee to delay throwing out EPA National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) being fortified across the country, and voted to STUDY its impact thanks to our watershed leaders' delegation. TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) standards in Massachusetts have yet to be determined. Stay with us to help get environmental laws going forward once again. (article)
What’s in this issue:
Alewife History and present day circumstances. (article)
Dedictated to 7th grade Cambridge class project and FAR. (Also see Alchemy at Alewife 2 sections for more history by state leaders and city officials- 1995)
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. (article published in Cambridge Chronical)
Cornell Lab of Ornithology eNews June 2016 has the article "Baby Birds Learn Calls From Their Mothers While Still in the Egg".
"Produced by top state leaders and environmentalists of the time in 1995 by Editor,
Jerry Howard, and could be of great use to Cambridge's newly appointed Alewife Committee in 2016.
Well planned Alewife Region at the time. We hope to learn from these great planners and conservationists."
-Ellen Mass June 2016
(section 1, section 2)
with support and assistance from Friends of Alewife Reservation
Students were able to perform water quality testing and study the animals such as beaver, bird, and other life that were present and interested them for their science curriculum of 8th grade. We are grateful and pleased with their diligence, interest and conservation values in performing their chemistry and biology science requirements. It helps to be a highly motivated student and appreciation for the Reservation has been a motivating factor, as these youth well demonstrate. (Science class reports)
In this issue:
Biking through Alewife Reservation, one of our Ecology Camp coordinators stopped and shot the following video of a muskrat. (view video)
Thirteen Youth pitched in for Friends of Alewife Reservation Blair Pond Conservation work. (photo: Naomi Dworkin)
The Boston Globe continues to hammer away at failure of Belmont's federal Little River water quality evaluation, but mistakenly omits Cambridge water quality outfall results. That a meeting is needed between town and city should be obvious to all. (editorial: "Another year, another ‘F’ for Belmont water quality")
Photo: Blair Pond cleanup, April 30. With high bacteria rates, we need water quality testing. (report on hearing by Ellen Mass)
Find It and Fix It program is a great way for youth, university students and neighborhoods to learn about environmental upkeep for a livable community in which they abide. Without our actually doing it, we cannot advocate well enough for our city to maintain livable standards. (article)
Do not throw out 10 million dollars of free US-EPA protection of our streams and rivers. This would increase the burden of watershed protection expenses for the State DEP. (what to say)
Support the 2017 Green Budget for Massachusetts from the Environmental League of Massachusetts.
Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, We have great respect for you and House members. Energy policy is complicated. It becomes simpler if you remove the profit motives of Big Utilities. Focus on only two considerations: What’s best for our economy and environment. ... (Ad in Boston Globe)
FAR was very pleased to have Naomi Dworkin bring a group of adults and youth to the Blair Pond meadow and rain garden on May 15th to assist in sustaining the meadow, woodlands and Pond's ecosystems. (article)
Peter Del Tredici speaks at Community Church of Boston (CCB)
The northeastern U. S. is a naturally forested landscape and has been so for thousands of years. In this slide lecture, Dr. Peter Del Tredici will present an overview of the recent history of the forests of the northeast as impacted by shifting land-use patterns (urbanization and suburban sprawl). He will not only discuss how today’s “emergent” forests differ from the native forests of the past but also how human priorities and evolutionary processes are working together to create a new ecological order. (article)
This Spring, we have been blessed with a great deal of help with the annual cleanup:
Thank you to all the volunteers who made this Spring's cleanup so successful! (pictures)
Read DCR's articles on Pollinators, Grants, webinars.
Exceptional ecology issue
FAR Summer Ecology Camp runs July 6th– August 12th every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Check us out : www.friendsofalewifereservation.org
MYSEP Applications due April 13 - May 6
April 16th: Cleaning around homeless encampments. (pictures)
On Thursday, April 14th twelve students from the International School of Boston found a way to give back to their community by spending the afternoon helping clean up the trails and surrounding area of the Alewife Reservation. Students removed a variety of plastic, styrofoam, and paper products throughout the afternoon. By the end of the day over 400 pieces of trash were collected and removed from the reservation! (pictures and ISB presentation)
Cambridge And Towns Take Heed
Becomes National LAW 7/1/17
(Notice From Mass Rivers Alliance)
Photo of storm water gushing from Belmont Uplands into land designated "Bordering Land Subject to Flooding", illegal for stormwater dumping by the Wetlands Protection Act.
Photo: Charles River Watershed Assocation (CWRA) meeting at headquarters in Weston with MA DEP Commissioner and watershed representatives and agencies. The Commissioner offers to take on role of federal government for many aspects of permitting, inspections, enforcement, despite the fact that DEP has been severely reduced in staff and budget.
"A recent article in the Boston Globe "US set to force cleanup of river" describes the new stormwater general permit that the U.S. EPA will be issuing next month. The MS4 (Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) permit will regulate the stormwater that towns and cities discharge to the Charles River and to water bodies throughout the state. Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) has advocated for this overdue permit, which should have been issued in 2008 and which has already gone through two public comment periods." (CWRA statement)
MA DEP will co-sign Federal stormwater permit
Massachusetts DEP has agreed to federal oversight on US-EPA Clean Water Act's NPDES second phase, focused on storm water. This is good national news for now. Hopeful to get mitigation and outfall attention at Little River in Cambridge and Little Pond in Belmont. Heavily contaminated waters require grass roots and community attention. FAR has just written a grant for someone to run a local Cambridge program, as Belmont and Watertown are doing, by forming Committees. Good News for Massachusetts waterways, streets and for climate change mitigation. Adaptation on the way if municipalities agree.
MassDEP has decided to co-sign the MS4 stormwater permit for Massachusetts, so we should see this regulation out in a few weeks, jointly issued by the state and federal agencies. That's the good news. EPA has made several changes to the permit, per DEP's requests. But DEP did not make this decision with great enthusiasm (see MA DEP letter to EPA.)
Annual Boston Water Conference Points towards Future Environmental Changes
Adaptation and Compliance Needed in Massachusetts
by Ellen Mass
EOEEA speaker Secretary, Matthew Beaton, noted that Massachusetts is one of 3 states still using US-EPA for storm water and waste water pollution standards and enforcement. We want them to continue to save the state close to 10 million a year and doing a high quality job. Our rivers and watersheds have become cleaner because of it. State apparatus is not equipped at this time to monitor and enforce these high federal standards, maintains many in the watershed movement meeting and campaigning on this issue. But Cambridge has received a ‘D minus’ federal report card for Alewife sub-watershed (one mile of Little River) and an ‘F’ grade for Belmont’s Little Pond and Perch Pond, indicating high dangerous bacteria counts. (full article)
from MA Energy and Environmental Bureau
Attorney General Maura Healey’s Energy and Environmental Bureau will be hosting a series of Listening Sessions across the Commonwealth this Spring. We hope you can join us for an evening of learning and sharing information about the environmental and energy issues that are important to you and your community. Our first Energy and Environmental Bureau Listening Session will be at the Chelsea Collaborative on Thursday, March 31st from 6-8pm. (article)
A serious EPA notice about our water bodies and severe contamination from urban infrastructure. Keep Flint in mind.
Take Care of the Discharge Problem Now - Growing Risk to Human Health
FAR criticizes City 2015 storm water Annual Report to US-EPA
Uses Sudbury MA as example of good watershed conservation practices in complying with MS4 federal regulations.
Meet at bridge Entry across from Alewife MBTA Station, Cambridge.
A two-hour walk at Alewife Reservation will celebrate the spring emergence of wildlife in the park. Birds and mammal sign will be identified, and the relationship of these wild animals to the various habitats in this urban wild will be discussed. We will also keep an eye out for spring ephemeral wildflowers and other new growth. Wear sturdy footwear as well as long pants and sleeves. The walk is suitable for adults and teens 13 and up. Meet at the reservation parking lot on Acorn Park Drive off of Route 2 in Cambridge. Call 617 415-1884 for more information.
The walk will be led by tracker-naturalist David Brown, lead surveyor for the Biodiversity Study of the Alewife Reservation Area. He is the author of several wildlife tracking publications including the recently-released book: The Next Step: Interpreting Animal Tracks, Trails and Sign.
Friends of Alewife Reservation
Ages 13+. Cost: Free. Donation requested.
A clean bill of health cannot yet be given to the city, state and the engineers as yet, says Friends of Alewife Reservation to a Belmont Citizen Forum February news about two combined sewer overflows (CSO) cut offs in Cambridge. (article)
Massachusetts Rivers Alliance has been working closely with ELM
to craft the water items in this year's Green Budget.
Now we need your help. (article)
February 22: Globe Reporter David Abel Explains Clean River Water Options from new EPA River regulations.
Strong storm water Implications for changes to D- report card for Little River in the Alewife sub-watershed of Mystic River Watershed
"Municipalities will be required to do whatever they can to allow more water to drain directly into the ground and wetlands, which filter out the phosphorus and other harmful chemicals, rather than have that water flow into the river. Over the next 20 years, communities will be required to replace asphalt with porous pavement, increase street sweeping, clear catch basins more regularly, and rebuild wetlands, among other things." (full article)
FAR signs to support Adaptation legislation:
(Adaptation Support letter to Rep. Smyzik)
Citizen Forester Newsletter- February 2016
- DCR Urban and Community Forestry Program
Ellen Mass speaks to Harvard Biodiversity 4 "A Livable Climate" conference May 2015 on losing a small floodplain forest and why our urban wilds are so important.
Announcing Next conference: The Power and Promise of Biodiversity: Visions of Restoring Land, Sea and Climate, April 30, 2016.
Elhwa River Freed- Brings glorious biodiversity to Washington State and beyond. (article)
Eagle at Alewife Little Pond. Bald Eagle requires protected habitat. Taken by Stephanie Liu of Oliver Road on Little Pond, February 15th, 3:30pm. (video)
State House Climate Rally- Last day of Paris global climate conference where global Agreement was reached to curb greenhouse gases. (article)
"We must ensure enough clean water to meet the future needs of wildlife, people, and a growing economy." (from Vision Statement) (article)
DER restoration projects of Massachusetts. (article)
We found 35 genets of the plants there on Friday 4 December 2015 in the early afternoon Other species present were ... (more)
Dialogue with MWRA continues. Discussion of more Variances proceeds (read more)
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)
Interactive map with directions
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.