A Letter from Ellen Mass

Former President of Friends of the Alewife Reservation
White-tailed Deer in the Alewife Reservation, May 8, 2022. All Rights Reserved / © Tim Bugbee

Dear water protectors to Save the Alewife Brook,

After 20 years, your water quality campaign for watershed conservation is a great boon to the residents of the Alewife Upper Basin in Belmont, Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville and to the downstream Medford and Chelsea Creek communities, and for the protection of our Atlantic Ocean coast line as well.

We started our Friends of Alewife Reservation in 2000 to bring attention to watershed matters. Now 20 years later the group is with Green Cambridge. At that time, we did not have the scientific means to advocate for the area in the way you have now enlightened us in measuring the vast amount of pollution increase coming from fully discharging CSOs, or those that were not separated in 2013 by Cambridge. It is also true that today, there is the increased flow of dreaded pathogens coming through our towns and cities on the Mystic River watershed especially in the Alewife subwatershed of Belmont, Arlington, Cambridge and Somerville where, you point out in your reports and news briefs, much of Little River and Alewife Brook pollution comes from. 

By galvanizing caring community members to note the great open space and benefits and dangers posed by the Alewife waters, and our green corridor to Boston Harbor and the ocean, you show foresight of our New England climate change future. By providing proper mitigation demands which are part of the Boston Reports and city agreements regarding adaptation measures to prevent the severity of climate change flooding. Greening the corridor would do that as will cleaning out the river and brook toxins, and provide habitat for our well-established animals, birds, insects.  

The noted environmental firm Horsley and Witten provided my organization with an important Upper Basin report and spoke to the State House regarding the importance of the Belmont/Cambridge Forest which was removed for a developer. I hope you will sustain your outreach and ally with others who care about the urban wild, river, brook, ponds and increasing climate change, noting that the MBTA Alewife metropolitan transit artery is extremely low in water rise elevation, and the area is predicted to flood in 2050 by future climate specialists. 

Well-established hazard warning signs in the River and Brook by Cambridge and Somerville may assist in alerting the public to the dangers in the water quality. I hope you will have better results than my then organization had in gaining municipal support and extracting the needed funds from federal, state and municipal sources. Cleaning up this section of the watershed will continue to bring safe recreational, educational benefits, and protect our health and diminishing species in this densely populated region so rich in floodplain. Wishing you the best.

Ellen Mass

Former President, Friends of Alewife Reservation

One thought on “A Letter from Ellen Mass

  1. The Alewife Reservation is managed by the DCR that keeps the area from abuse and maintains its public access and safety. Without the DCR the Reservation would not exist. And they have helped guide in 2021 a restoration project with Green Cambridge on the south side of the Alewife storm water wetland riparian land just east of the Oxbow or observation deck. NOTE: A significant strip of the Reservation adjacent to Route 2, is a wooded ‘deer yard’ where deer regularly munch and gather. The woodland and meadow is under the jurisdiction of Arlington. Rare meadow t and wetlands, must be protected and maintained for adaptation, habitat and good practices.

    We hope to contact them regarding the Alewife garden continuance which abuts this area. Thanks for the attention to my letter, and for further info, the public canI refer you, free of charge, to the Cambridge Historical Commission on- line services for more of the reports and data provided by private companies and the city of Cambridge and former FAR. Go on line and under CHC look for FAR under archives.

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