The Year in Review
Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation

Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation continued to grow and diversify in 2010, as we have every year since we started offering programs in January of 2002. This year, in collaboration with members of the Cambridge Water Department, Grow Native Cambridge, The Solar Interest Group, and a number of guest program leaders, we offered 87 programs covering a wide variety of nature- and water-related subjects. New program topics included coyotes, solar energy, bees, edible wild plants, plant-insect relationships, plant photography, and "Rambles" for parents with small children.

The Reservation is a rich environment both in biodiversity and in opportunities for people to learn about nature. It includes a wide variety of habitats and their plant and animal inhabitants in a relatively small, accessible, area. By observing closely and applying what we have learned from written material and from other knowledgeable people, we can experience the interconnected workings as well as the wonder and beauty of the natural world, without leaving our own city. Being an urban woodland and a heavily visited recreation area, the Reservation is also a model of how the land is impacted by people, their pets, and the host of non-native, sometimes invasive, plants and animals that seem to follow us wherever we go. The problems we try to address locally at Fresh Pond are also global, and we are definitely not alone in our efforts to preserve, protect, and improve our tiny "wilderness."

In June, Deb Albenberg replaced Emily Tansey as the Watershed Manager's Assistant and Reservation Stewardship Coordinator after Emily left to attend graduate school at the University of New Hampshire. As much as we missed Emily, we quickly became aware that Deb's charming personality, dedication, and talent, and would make her a capable leader and an innovative planner. Deb quickly discovered the joy of leading volunteers on forays to extirpate garlic mustard, mugwort, buckthorns and black swallowwort. She also planned and led programs including seven of the above-mentioned "Rambles" and a workshop about the problematic Asian longhorned beetle. Deb's efforts to add native plants to the landscape will have a positive impact on the Reservation far into the future.

The Friends have an ongoing commitment to give back to this place that we value so much. This year we continued our stewardship of the Kingsley Park bioswale, which responded to our weeding efforts with a splendid fall display of purple asters and yellow goldenrods. We expanded our nesting box program, monitoring screech owl and wood duck boxes that were made and put up by water department staff. Our tree swallow boxes, in their seventh year, produced another large crop of fledgling swallows. These birds will return the favor by eating the kinds of insects that like to eat us. Friends group members contributed many hours volunteering for Fresh Pond Stewardship activities led by Deb. Much of the time was spent doing the hard work of removing invasive weeds - followed by a few delightful hours in the fall collecting and scattering the seeds of native wildflowers.

The Fresh Pond Woodland Restoration Demonstration Project, affectionately called "Suzanna's Corner" or "The Corner" after its creator, Suzanna Black, is flourishing. Although only about one-eighth of an acre in size, it now contains more than 100 species of plants that are considered historically native to the area that is now Middlesex County. During the drought of July and August, Suzanna, Betsy Meyer, and I spent many hours using a wagon loaded with gallon milk jugs to haul water from a nearby faucet. Both the plants - and we - survived this challenge. Our final task for the year was to gather bags full of oak leaves from nearby public lawns, and scatter them around the plants as winter mulch.

As a result of her work in the Corner, on November 4th Suzanna was awarded this year's Fresh Pond Stewardship Award during a ceremony at the Water Department. She shares the award with Jim Barton, a member of the Fresh Pond Advisory Board and a long-term advocate for restoration of natural habitats on the reservation.

The Fresh Pond Reading Group retains its allure for a dedicated core of about 20 Friends group members. Led by our member Barbara Strell, we meet about five times a year for a potluck supper followed by a group discussion of the current book. Our venture into poetry about birds this year inspired us to schedule a public program in 2011 about bird poetry. All FFPR members are invited to join this group.

This was the year that I was going to "retire" from my role as coordinator of the Friends group. That has not come to pass because nobody has been available to take my place, but I am happy to report that the competent and dedicated members of the FFPR Planning Committee have taken on many of the tasks that I once did. This support has allowed me to spend more time pursuing other interests that are important to me - but, even more important, it has brought a wealth of new energy and ideas to our organization.

In 2010 our membership grew from 193 to 211. About half of our members made an additional donation beyond the basic membership fee. In addition to purchasing office supplies and educational materials, we spent our money this year on honoraria for professional program leaders, on plants for the Corner, on food (including lunch for volunteers at Fresh Pond Day), on a donation to Neville Place and on a farewell gift for Emily Tansey.

The new year will hold many new adventures for the Friends. We have already planned an animal tracking program with naturalist and tracker David Brown: a talk about the Great Swamp with author and long time Cantabrigian Sheila Cook: and a program about the history of Fresh Pond with Charles Sullivan, Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Commission. As dates and times are chosen for these programs, they will be announced in our monthly publicity.

We invite all who are interested to attend our free programs, to participate in our stewardship projects and to become members. Members receive advance notice of popular programs, may join our reading group, and may become members of the Planning Committee. Our website at contains a wealth of information about our activities and the Reservation.

Many thanks to the people, listed below, who gave their time and effort to make this a successful year for Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation.

Elizabeth Wylde for the FFPR Planning Committee
December 30, 2010


Members of the Planning Committee: Susan Agger, Deb Albenberg, Suzanna Black, Susan Coolidge, Janet Kovner, Rebecca Ramsay, Betsy Meyer, Susie Robillard, Barbara Strell, and Elizabeth Wylde (coordinator)

Fresh Pond Reading Group Moderator: Barbara Strell

Woodland Restoration Demonstration Project Leaders: Suzanna Black, Betsy Meyer, Elizabeth Wylde

Program Leaders:
Professionals: Russ Cohen, Janet Hobbs, Amy Kamarainen, Julie Lisk, John Maguranis,
Larry Millman, Tom Murray, Arieh Tal, Douglas Tallamy, Joshua Roth, Bob Stymeist

Cambridge Water Department Staff: Deb Albenberg, Ed Dowling, Dave Kaplan, Tim
MacDonald, Krystyna McNally, Chip Norton, Jean Rogers, Emily Tansey

Volunteer Leaders: Susan Agger, Suzanna Black, Susan Coolidge, Lance Drane, Nancy
Guppy, Janet Kovner, Herb Pearce, Squizzle Plekavich, Rebecca Ramsay, Barbara Strell,
Claudia Thompson, Elizabeth Wylde

Program Helpers: Susan Agger, Suzanna Black, Carol Collura, Rowena Conkling, Nancy Haslett, Susan Kaufman, Lore Levitt, Chris McKay, Betsy Meyer, Squizzle Plekavich, Rebecca Ramsay, Paul Robillard, Susie Robillard, Mary Shetterly, Elizabeth Wylde

Photographers: Carol Collura, Richard Gardner, Jonna Katajisto, Elizabeth Wylde

Kingsley Park Bioswale Weeders,: Deb Albenberg, Jodi Dowling, Pamela Hart, Andy Hrycyna, Renee Jula, Elizabeth Karpati, Linda Koegel, Betsy Meyer, Colleen O'Shea, Squizzle Plekavich, Rebecca Ramsay, Barbara Strell, Elizabeth Wylde

Folks who helped in other ways: Sue Bowdridge (Neville Place Activities Director), Vince Falcione (CWD), Juan and Jose (Waverly Landscaping), Bruce Patterson (Native Plants Nursery)