Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation
Minutes of the Annual Meeting
Sunday, January 26, 2014

Attending: Susan Agger, Carol Benoit-Reynolds, Suzanna Black, Richard Bosel, Janet Burns, Paula Chandolia, Carol Collura, Susan Cooldige, Julie Croston, Pam Haltom, Nancy Haslett, Lore Levitt, Kirsten Lindquist, Betsy Meyer, Herb Pearce, Squizzle Plekavich, Rebecca Ramsay, Lee Shane, Elizabeth Wylde (Recording), Martha Zirbel

The twelfth annual meeting of the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation was held at the Maynard Ecology Center in Neville Place Assisted Living Facility at 650 Concord Avenue, Cambridge. The meeting was called to order by coordinator Elizabeth Wylde, after the twenty attendees had enjoyed a delicious potluck supper crowned with numerous desserts.

In light of the recent death on January 13, 2014 of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department, Elizabeth asked participants who wished to, to share a memory of Chip. He was a strong supporter of the Friends group and all volunteers on the Reservation. People remembered his kindness, generosity, willingness to try new things, and appreciation of the work contributed by volunteers at Fresh Pond. Chip is greatly missed and will long be remembered.

Elizabeth then gave a summary of the year's events. The Friends publicized 60 programs at Fresh Pond in 2013: Nineteen were led by Water Department staff, eleven by other professionals who received an honorarium from the Friends group for their presentations, fifteen were bird walks led by members, five were meetings of the members' reading group, and the rest were programs (mostly about plants) led by members.

Membership in 2013 increased slightly from 213 to 219. People were generous with donations in addition to their membership dues.

Elizabeth introduced all of the members of the FFPR Planning Committee, with a brief description of each person's job. She then asked our treasurer, Suzanna Black, to give her annual report. Suzanna reported that there was $2616 in the bank at the end of 2013. Our income for the year was $4325, all from memberships and donations. Our largest expenditures were for Weed Wrenches, which were purchased for the volunteers to use in removing invasive weed trees from the Reservation; honoraria for our professional presenters; postage for publicity and membership mailings; and a donation to Neville Place to help the residents stay connected with the natural world.

She then turned the meeting over to other members who gave reports on various stewardship activities at the Pond. Betsy Meyer, a dedicated volunteer, participates with several other members of the Planning Committee in two ongoing Woodland Restoration Projects. She told us about the year's events in the Woodland Restoration Habitat Project, using a large map of the Reservation to show us the location. She recalled that the Friends initially purchased many small native trees and shrubs for the area, then decided we needed a stronger visual presence, and asked Chip Norton to have the Water Department buy us larger specimens. He was happy to do so and, furthermore, to arrange for several young landscape company employees to dig the holes. The volunteers spent the summer weeding and making chickwire cages to protect our tender young plants from voracious rabbits that were exceedingly (but not surprisingly) fond of eating native species. Chip also asked Reservation Site Supervisor Vince Falcione to set up an irrigation system, which served us very well during dry periods of the summer and fall. Betsy finished her report by describing the experience of planting the many seedlings and rooted cuttings we had started in pots that had spent the spring and summer growing on Elizabeth's patio.

Next, Kirsten Lindquist told us about her experience as Volunteer Coordinator for the Cambridge Water Department since her arrival in August. She said she has been very impressed with the knowledge, dedication, and work ethic of the Volunteer Stewards. Kirsten has very much enjoyed leading the Friday morning walks with young children that were started several years ago by her predecessor, Deb Albenberg. She reported this year's observations from the joint Water Department/Friends group project called the Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project that is being conducted in the wetland on the north of Little Fresh Pond. Thousands of Galerucella beetles, which live and feed only on purple loosestrife, were purchased and released in the loosestrife-infested wetland each spring between 2007 and 2011. This past fall, our surveys indicated that the loosestrife plants in our test quadrats had not grown as tall as they had at any time in the past, and that there was an increase in plant diversity within the quadrats. This is encouraging news. Kirsten also told us about the programs she has begun planning for the Water Department, including four winter events.

Squizzle Plekavitch is a volunteer who takes monthly plankton samples from Black's Nook and Little Fresh Pond and reports them to the Water Department and the Friends group. Using the map, he pointed out the ponds where he takes his samples, and explained the sampling process. He then showed illustrations and described three flagellated algae (Dinobyron, Synura, and Uroglenopsis) that are of interest to him because they use their flagella to move around in the water. This motility gives them an advantage over non-motile algae during winter when nutrient levels are low, because they are able to travel to areas with higher nutrients. Thus, their populations increase, whereas those of the other species decrease.

Elizabeth closed the meeting with a request that members think about whether they know anyone, amateur or professional, who has expertise in an area of natural history or local cultural history and would enjoy sharing their knowledge by leading a program for the Friends group. We offer professionals or experts a $100 honorarium.

Our closing ceremony was led by Carol Benoit-Reynolds. We gathered around a table decorated with evergreen branches and, in the middle, a large bowl filled with sand. Carol invited us to, one by one, light a candle and place it in the bowl, while sharing with the group what it is that brings us to Fresh Pond. For many of us, the attraction is the fellowship with other people who love the natural world.

Elizabeth Wylde
January 31, 2014