Thursday, May 22, 2008

DCR's BU Bridge sidewalk repairs and the White Geese

Marilyn Wellons reports on the May 20, 2008
Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association meeting:

I spoke with the DCR representative at the Cport NA
meeting last night about the DCR's nighttime work
under the BU Bridge on the Boston side. We agreed the
[DCR] flyer was confusing. She said she'd look into it.

Today [May 21] she says the night work is to put shielding
under the bridge. It'll take 10-14 days.

I said the contractor had told me that work would be
from the barge, and it's supplied by pickup truck
through the goose meadow. (As the resident engineer
and I stood there last week a pickup did drive over
the curb at Memorial Drive, into the meadow, and down
the hill. Someone got out, went to the base of the BU
Bridge, got into a boat, and went out the barge.)

I asked the DCR representative whether the barge would
be supplied through the goose meadow at night. She
said she'd find out. I think we agreed that if that
was the case it would be a problem for the geese.

I told her I was glad the DCR press release said there
would be no harm to the White Geese. But, I said, the
DCR's history is to say just that even as they are
harming the geese. For example, in September 2004 the
Globe quoted DCR planner Richard Corsi as saying the
DCR wouldn't harm the geese--even as the agency and
Cambridge were keeping the White Geese from their
primary source of food at Magazine Beach, i.e.,
starving them.

(As we know, the geese haven't starved only because of
the heroic work of the people feeding them. I had a
very good visit with Bill N. and the geese Tuesday
morning. It was a beautiful day and the geese were
beautiful. I saw goslings and ducklings. I was
impressed by the logistics, coordination and
dedication of the people involved in that effort.

(Bill told me one of the construction workers had
commented on how beautiful the geese were, how
interesting their urban wild is.)

I believe the workers will be as careful as they can.
However, as I told the DCR lady, since the DCR and
Cambridge decided the White Geese didn't belong on the
Charles, occasions like this provid either cover or
opportunity for people wanting to attack the geese.

Without going into detail, I recounted my conversation
with Julia O'Brien, head of DCR plans, in 2000. Yes,
O'Brien said, destroying the White Geese's nesting
habitat would expose them to predators when they were
most vulnerable, but the DCR didn't intend to harm
them. I told the DCR representative that DCR plans
had in fact solicited a memo that recommended
eliminating all the geese.

I told her about the violent attacks on the geese in
2001, and that the DCR and Cambridge had failed to
condemn them. She knew that people who attack animals
like that are a danger to humans. I told her about Io
Nachtwey's kidnapping, rape, and murder, that the rape
took place exactly where we found the body of the
first goose, that like the human victim, that mother
goose was stabbed and beaten to death. I said the
method of attacking the geese changed radically after
the arrest of her killers.

Again, the DCR representative listened, for which I
was grateful.

I pointed out that the White Geese have been confined
to the goose meadow since 2004. In the old days, the
geese were at the goose meadow for 4 months or so.
Before the DCR and Cambridge changed their policy, the
gaggle would be finished nesting by now, and be
leaving the goose meadow to feed along the river at
Magazine Beach and by the Hyatt Hotel. Now they're
confined to this ghetto year round.

It would be much better if the geese could resume
their mini-migration, if they once again had safe
access to the grass at Magazine Beach and near the
Hyatt. That way work on the BU Bridge wouldn't
endanger them.

And we could all enjoy the White Geese in their entire
habitat. I always think of my friend's son, whom I
knew as a child, bringing his own daughter down to
visit the White Geese not that many years ago. I'm
looking forward to the day when the geese are once
again free animals.

For now, I'm waiting for further word from the DCR
official about how work on the BU Bridge will affect
the geese.