The Year in Review
Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation

One can always seem to find something new and interesting to experience at Fresh Pond Reservation. It might be an unexpected encounter with a friend or neighbor, a tree full of beautiful flowers, a friendly puppy wiggling over to say "Hello", an unusual bird, a new restoration project in progress, a chat with Ranger Jean, a tranquil interlude while sitting on one of the benches, a flock of high school runners passing by, a beautiful sunset. That is why we love Fresh Pond: because it delivers, again and again. We go there to get connected - with our friends, with the natural world, and with ourselves; to exercise, to relax, to think, to learn, and to volunteer.

The dual mission of the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation (FFPR) is to help people make that connection, through education and stewardship on behalf of the Reservation. In the twelve years since the group's founding, we have never run out of ideas for programs that attract people who want to participate in this process of connecting through learning and serving. The Reservation is an excellent venue for our hands-on approach to nature education: it is local, easy to access, safe, and rich in biodiversity. In this setting we can develop observational skills while learning about birds, trees, wildflowers, fungi, insects, ecology, geology, water, local history, and much more.


Of the 60 events FFPR publicized in 2013, 19 were programs led by Water Department staff, 14 were member-led bird walks, and 5 were member-led plant identification classes. We welcomed 9 professional educators who taught us about coyotes, edible wild plants, drawing from nature, fungi, salamanders, bird migration, photography, and animals in winter. Our members' reading group met 5 times for potluck suppers and lively discussions. We helped sponsor a Grow Native Massachusetts program at the Cambridge Public Library - this year's Evening with Experts lecture about managing invasive weeds, led by Eric Olson and Josh Ellsworth. We also gave support to our member Julie Croston, who leads the Friends of the Tobin School, in her costume preparations for the Honk! Parade and her International Park(ing) Day program called "The Park of Microscopic Life." For a complete list of events, see our "2013 Programs" table.

A feeling of connection with the natural world often leads to a desire to give back. Thus many of our members and program participants become Volunteer Stewards. Under the capable leadership of the Cambridge Water Department's new Volunteer Coordinator, Kirsten Lindquist, and Fresh Pond Chief Ranger Jean Rogers, these volunteers are helping keep the woods and restored areas healthy by removing non-native weeds, scattering seeds of native species, clearing brush, and maintaining woodland paths.

The Friends group is currently managing two volunteer woodland restorations: The Woodland Restoration Project, which we call "the Corner," and the adjacent Woodland Habitat Restoration Project, aka "the Habitat." Since the spring of 2007 when we began removing invasive weeds and planting natives, the Corner in has produced a lush, diverse understory of shrubs and perennials. We created a circular path for visitors to walk on and added numbered stakes that correspond to a list of plants, available during planned events. Although we still need to remove occasional weeds, our long-term weeding efforts and the density of plantings has made maintenance an easy job.

Our current challenge is the approximately ¾ acre Habitat, which until 2011 was a jungle of buckthorns and oriental bittersweet and a rogue's gallery of other weeds. After we removed most of the buckthorns, we saw the opportunity to further improve the quality of the environment in the area by planting native trees, shrubs and wildflowers. With encouragement and considerable support from the Water Department we have planted hundreds of woody plants and perennials. Our goal is to create a refuge for delicate plants, ground nesting birds, and small mammals that cannot survive the impact of canine and human traffic. The area will require an enormous amount of weeding and planting in the next few years, before it becomes densely enough vegetated that we can reduce our efforts to a maintenance level.

We also continue the nesting box program that we started in 2004 to attract tree swallows to the Reservation. These insect-eating summer migrants consume enormous numbers of the insects that like to bite us. In 2013, which was a typical year, at least half of our 15 boxes successfully produce fledglings - perhaps more than 70 new mouths each year to fill with mosquitoes, gnats and other flying insects.

Memberships, Donations, and Expenses
In 2013 our membership grew slightly, numbering about 219, with almost half joining or renewing as couples or families. Many members also generously donated additional money for us to use on behalf of the Reservation.

Most of our expenses are similar to those in the past: honoraria for our professional program leaders; postage for publicity and membership mailings; donations, including an annual gift to Neville Place; office supplies and equipment; educational materials; refreshments for programs; website hosting; and purchase of supplies and plants for the Woodland Habitat Restoration Project. This year, in addition, we made a gift to the Cambridge Water Department of 10 Weed Wrenches. They will be used by volunteer groups for the removal of common and glossy buckthorns and other non-native, invasive woody plants that currently dominate the understory of some of our woods.

Elizabeth Wylde, for the FFPR Planning Committee
January 1, 2014

Members of the FFPR Planning Committee: Susan Agger, Deb Albenberg (until May 1), Suzanna Black, Susan Coolidge, Janet Kovner, Kirsten Lindquist (after August 1), Betsy Meyer, Rebecca Ramsay, Carol Benoit Reynolds, and Elizabeth Wylde (coordinator)

Fresh Pond Reading Group Moderator: Lance Drane

Woodland Restoration Project Leaders: Suzanna Black, Susan Coolidge, Pamela Hart, Kirsten Lindquist, Betsy Meyer, Elizabeth Wylde

Photographers: Kirsten Lindquist, Jim Koll, Elizabeth Wylde

Program Leaders:
Cambridge Water Department Staff: Deb Albenberg, Katie Booras, Vince Falcione, Dave Kaplan, Kirsten Lindquist, Tim MacDonald, Krystyna McNally, Chip Norton, Jean Rogers

Other Professionals: Duke Brisko, Russ Cohen, Ted Elliman, Josh Ellsworth, Janet Hobbs, Brooks Mathewson, John Maguranis, Larry Millman, Tom Murray, Eric Olson, Joshua Roth, Amy Tighe, Patricia Turner, Amanda Weise

Volunteers: Suzanna Black, Susan Coolidge, Julie Croston, Lance Drane, Nancy Guppy, Andy Hrycyna, Chris McKay, Betsy Meyer, Herb Pearce, Rebecca Ramsay, Bob Stymeist, Elizabeth Wylde,

Folks who helped in other ways: Susan Agger (Maynard Ecology Center Coordinator), Sue Bowdridge (Neville Place Activities Director), Carol Collura (Vascular Plant Inventories), Andy Hrycyna (Bird Reports), Brian Mulrenan (CWD)