|HOME||BACK TO JAN. 08 CALENDAR|
The evolution of the Friends group in some ways reminds me of the development of my garden. I have learned over many years of cultivating my small Cambridge yard that my role is more to be a caretaker than an architect, even though I make many decisions and my hands put the seeds or plants into the ground. The miracle that happens is in the plants themselves. Likewise, Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation seems to have an internal growth process, developing in ways none of its leaders could have predicted. A big part of our job is to keep in tune with the wishes of our members and to respond to the resources and needs of Fresh Pond Reservation. I am often surprised and delighted to discover what unfolds.
Through the growing season this year we continued our newfound stewardship role of helping protect the Reservation from invasive plant species. The Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project (PLBP), a collaboration between the Friends group and the Cambridge Water Department, was launched in November of 2006 with informative talks and a survey of the heavily infested Little Fresh Pond wetland. The project moved forward in April with two workshops for potting loosestrife plants to be used as beetle nurseries, one at the Water Department and the other, a family program, at the Maynard Ecology Center. The MEC workshop was also publicized as a 2007 Cambridge Science Festival program.
On May 31 we released 5000 Galerucella beetles in the wetland and another 400 on our ten potted plants. We monitored plants in the wetland by collecting data in the spring and fall, and we watered and watched our nurseries. We learned much, especially about how to set up and maintain the nurseries in the future. Next year when we receive our second shipment of beetles, we will add more of them to each plant, make bigger nets to cover them (this year the plants outgrew their nets), and locate them in a place where we can water them more easily. Our goals are to establish a stable beetle population on the Reservation and to eventually grow our own beetles for use in other areas, rather than buy them.
We also kept up the invasive plants removal (a.k.a. Fresh Pond Weeding Project) that we started in June, stopping only when cold weather made the work too uncomfortable. About 20 people participated, with 12 returning for 2 to 7 weeding parties, and four logging more than 20 hours each. During 84 organized weeding sessions, we worked a total of 420 hours, removing huge amounts of garlic mustard, black swallowwort, buckthorns, bittersweet, mugwort, burdock, and a dozen other noxious weeds. Pulling weeds is hard work, but our rewards were a sense of having connected with the land and the plants that we rescued, and a feeling of camaraderie with our fellow weeders. The Cambridge Water Department is currently developing a Reservation Stewardship program to begin in the spring that will take over from where we left off. Plans include training workshops for participants, outreach to larger groups of volunteers, and new supplies and equipment.
Our work on the Reservation did not divert us from our educational mission. We held 56 programs, including 12 bird walks, 12 programs about plants, and six tours of the Water Purification Facility. New program topics included glaciers, "magnificent" mud, drawing from nature, ferns, aquatic plants, climate change, and weather. For a Biodiversity Days program we invited Peter Alden, creator of Biodiversity Days, to lead a walk during which he and about 30 participants identified more than 100 species of plants and animals. We participated in Cambridge Discovery Days with a well-attended "Walk through the History of Fresh Pond." We also publicized monthly "Walkabouts" that Watershed Manager Chip Norton led through the restoration sites in the Northeast Sector.
The six active members of the Planning Committee that was formed this year have made a major contribution to our organization, each person offering unique skills and new ideas. By taking on a number of the many jobs I had been doing, they have also eased a workload that was beginning to weigh heavily on my shoulders. In spite of busy schedules and other commitments, we have met ten times since February. Meeting topics have included job reports, decision-making about issues such as finances, and discussions about upcoming and future programs and other activities on the Reservation. We often work together to stuff envelopes for program and membership mailings. All FFPR members are invited to participate in these monthly late afternoon meetings.
This year the Committee agreed to make a $300 contribution to Neville Place, as we have done in previous years, to be used for bird seed and programs to help the residents stay connected with the natural world. We also decided to contribute (in 2008) $500 toward the printing of an upcoming book about the History of Fresh Pond by landscape historian Jill Sinclair. In 2005 and 2006 the Friends group organized three of Jill's enormously popular lectures about the Pond, which were based on her graduate school research. We again offered money to the Cambridge Public Schools for bus rides to or from the Maynard Ecology Center, as in previous years.
We continued to generate and distribute a variety of information for the public: maps, wildflower and bird checklists, other information about birds and birding, information about native and invasive plants, and twig identification charts. We have added printed information about composting with worms and how to compost leaves. Our newly updated Reservation map shows the recently opened paths through the Northeast Sector restoration areas. Our History of Fresh Pond map now has a chronology of Fresh Pond on the reverse side. We also made a very popular flyer of butterflies that might be seen at Fresh Pond, using beautiful photos taken by our member Tom Murray.
Other projects this year: We set up and monitored our 8 bird nesting boxes. Tree Swallows nested in five boxes, and House Wrens in one: all appeared to have successfully produced fledglings. We added species to our inventories of mushrooms, plankton, and insects, and we created inventories of ferns and pondweeds. We used a borrowed canoe to do a survey of pondweeds in Black's Nook,. Our Twig Identification Contest, which ended in January, had one Grand Winner who identified all 32 twigs to win a year's membership in FFPR, and four other winners who each identified 7 of the twigs to win a Winter Tree Finder guide. Our Bird Sightings board in the Visitor's Center has seen increased usage this year, so much that it is wearing out! A new board has been purchased and will soon be mounted. Our new (in 2007) members' reading group met three times this year to discuss the three excellent books we read. We are planning future readings and meetings.
Below is a list of the people who played active roles in the Friends group this year. These are the people whose dedication and effort have made Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation a success.
of the Planning Committee
who led or co-led programs and made other contributions
who led or co-led programs and made other contributions
who helped in a variety of other ways