Sunday, July 30, 2006

Report on Urban Ring Advisory Committee Meeting, 7/25/06

Marilyn Wellons reports:

I attended the most recent Urban Ring Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, July 25, 2006, at the State Transportation Building. Again, the Executive Office of Transportation officials at the meeting reviewed the time table for hiring consultants to revise the Draft Environmental Impact Review/Statement and finish the revision for filing by November, 2007. That's not very long from now for that kind of work.

Members of the CAC were very concerned that they would have only an advisory role in the hiring of the consultants. Again and again they came back to that problem. I believe the problems with the Big Dig were hanging heavy over the entire meeting.

I stated my own interest in keeping the Grand Junction rail bridge in operation
for freight, and passed on to the meeting the Rail Committee of the Regional Transportation Advisory Council concern about keeping the Grand Junction open for freight and passenger service (by which I assume the Rail Committee mean the MBTA's current use of it).

Interestingly, when Codd, the EOT project manager, asked for a show of hands for
how many people were interested in Phase 3 (rail), the City of Cambridge representative raised her hand. As with previous Cambridge positions, I take this to reflect Harvard's desire for its own version of an Urban Ring Phase 3, i.e., light rail crossing the Charles over the Grand Junction bridge, connecting a spur from the Allston campus to the rest of the ring. Harvard's Allston website shows this connection (mode is unclear)

No official plan to date has showed anything of the kind. MBTA documents (MIS,
DEIR/S) and consequently the Secretary's Certificate refer to river crossings
in Phase 3 by tunnel only--whether the rail is light (Green Line) or heavy (Red
or Orange). A year ago a Sierra Club officer floated the idea that light rail over
the Grand Junction bridge was Phase 3. I and others responded that it was not any
official version of Phase 3.

The idea's definitely out there, though, gaining strength, probably with the
EOT-Harvard consultants and with them, EOT.

In general, EOT Urban Ring officials Codd and Woelfel did their best to say the
CAC should stick to Phase 2 and not follow up except tangentially on the Secretary's
May 20, 2005 Certificate for the DEIR/S suggestion to consider rephasing segments
of the Urban Ring, specifically, to advance Phase 3 rail in the central segment.

When I asked Woelfel after the meeting if he meant to discourage a serious consideration of rephasing, he said he didn't care if the CAC recommended it. However, there are problems with timing: if the feds think rephasing changes the "goals and purposes" of the Urban Ring, the project will have to start all over again from the very beginning, whereas now it's been in line for all these years. I think the point is that no one should be so foolish as to be held reponsible for
bringing the whole thing to a halt like that.

So the momentum among the EOT staff is definitely for buses.

I don't know enough about the MPO bureaucratic process to know if the "goals and purposes" of the Urban Ring change by phase. As Woelfel stated them from memory to me, they sounded as though they would be identical for all 3, almost by definition--public transportation in the Urban Ring corridor. This would almost certainly be true for the segment from Assembly or Sullivan Squares to Longwood and Ruggles, i.e., the river crossing, since the MBTA Major Investment Study says Phases 2 (bus) and 3 (rail) are redundant, and that if Phase 3 is built, Phase 2 seervice goes away. (All other segments of the Ring are "additive," and remain.)

Bumpy Remembered, Pond Dedicated

Bob La Trémouille reports:

Sunday, July 23, 2006, a number of us met in the parking lot at Magazine Beach near the new body of water created by the Department of Conservation and Recreation / City of Cambridge.

Participants included me, Marilyn Wellons, Ben Beckwith, Ellin Sarot, Ann Toop, Bill Cunningham, Annie Butler, Lois Martin, Lydia Vickers, Alcides Vidal, the new photo editor of the Cambridge Chronicle, Chris Dunham, and Barbara Allen, MWRA Public Relations. I have omitted at least 5 people, perhaps more like 8.

The event ran three hours, basically dominated by informal conversation among participants. The most exciting part of the meeting concerned the two resident white ducks and is separately reported.

Participants brought favorite photos of Bumpy and of the gaggle (including a couple of mine, brought by somebody else, which I appreciated).

The Chronicle attended and did an excellent photo spread on page two in their July 27 edition.

Two new residents at Magazine Beach, a pair of white ducks, apparently arrived Saturday, July 22. They were on the receiving end of behavior the Cambridge City Council would be “neutral” on, with a wink and a nod (see separate report on these beautiful animals). A dog tried to kill one of the ducks. The two little guys ran as fast as their little legs could, but the dog caught up and had his teeth on one’s neck. I disabused him with vigor.

As I recall, the Cambridge City Council or a committee of the Cambridge City Council wants dogs to run free on Magazine Beach. It may have been a committee chaired by most environmental destructive member, Henrietta Davis.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

White Ducks arrive at Charles River, taught to swim, then see the world

Bob La Trémouille Reports:

1. General.
A. Weekend events.
B. Advances on Wednesday.
2. Bill's Report.
3. Update from Lois, July 27.
A. General.
B. Lois.
(1) Report, July 27.
(2) Your Editor.
4. Bill concurs with Lois.
A. Report, July 27.
B. Editor.
5. Photos.
6. Follow-up, July 31, 2006.

1. General.

A. Weekend events.

Last Saturday, July 22, two new residents appeared at Magazine Beach, and several of us, especially Bill Nauman, Allison Blyler, me, Ann Lynch and Lois Martin (by order of time spent as I gather it), have spent too much time there because of it.

I think the key work has been done by Bill Naumann and Allison Blyler of the Charles River Urban Wilds Initiative, Inc. and I commend them for their success to date.

Last Saturday, two white ducks were dropped at Magazine Beach.

In the six to seven years I have followed Magazine Beach closely, we have had three geese dropped at the Destroyed Nesting Area / Goose Meadow. All adapted successfully. One passed away of not really related causes after five years of residence. The other two are happy parents and give no signs of any meaningful problems.

This is the first time we have had ducks appear and the first time of animals appearing at Magazine Beach proper.

The twosome are very sweet guys and were not at all interested in being other than pets. They stayed in the grove of trees (soon to be partially destroyed) at the entrance of the parking lot, clearly awaiting the return of their master.

Sunday morning during our 5 year anniversary memorial of the death of Bumpy, the very great danger of their chosen location was driven dramatically home to me. And I have heard of the event from a number of third parties including at least one with a City of Cambridge badge.

The two ducks were attacked by a free roaming dog whose owner had left him off leash.

The male of the couple was caught and grabbed by the neck between sharp teeth. I was close enough to the situation and I very emphatically modified the behavior of the dog with two swift kicks to the body. The dog and master left.

Our Bumpy friends surrounded the male duck to see if he was harmed. He was not. Then we realized that our circle had kept the two ducks from seeing each other, so we opened up the circle to correct the problem. For perhaps ten minutes thereafter the duck couple, highly afraid of humans, very deliberately comforted each other in the middle of our human gathering, to keep away the really dangerous dogs.

The two ducks strongly liked making their home in that grove, but the safety issue was a very major reason why that was a bad idea.

The geese NEVER walk as far from the Charles as that grove of trees. They always leave themselves a direct, close way to get into the Charles the minute they see a predator.

B. Advances on Wednesday.

Pretty much all of us have been attempting to educate the ducks in the way of the world. The ducks started to follow Bill and Allison around after careful communing between the humans and the ducks.

Bill estimates that these two beings have led a very sheltered life as pets in somebody’s house, probably never seeing their parents. He also estimates that there was a dog in the house because, while the gaggle is very properly scared of dogs, the two white ducks have no such fear.

Bill and his associates have worked to get the ducks into the Charles with major success today, July 25. At first, the two ducks did not have the slightest idea what all that blue stuff was for. I was able to get them to drink out of the Bumpy Pond, however.

Wednesday, July 25, Lois reports that she and Bill got them to go into the Charles River. I understand Bill coaxed the ducks into the Charles by wading into it himself. When I arrived, they were enjoying the river with great vigor, diving, splashing and happily swimming. They definitely spent most of the rest of the day in the Charles River.

Bill calls them Andrake (André + drake) and Daffney (a feminization of Daffy, I presume).

Hopefully, the ducks will, at minimum, set themselves up close to the Charles, or even better, at the Destroyed Nesting Area / Goose Meadow.

2. Bill's Report, early stage:

I tried to lead Andrake and Daffney to the meadow via the water this afternoon. We hadn't really fed them today (seemed they were doing good foraging for themselves swimming around and eating grasses etc.) so I walked in the river with a bag of lettuce hoping they would follow.

Well, they accompanied me swimming, and talking, and eating the stuff. About two thirds the way they decided to head back. "drats" Maybe the consolation is they will expand their river horizon and in the meadow direction.... we shall see.

Hope they continue to stay near the water and away from the canines.

[ed. This was a fairly early report on Wednesday.]

3. Update from Lois, July 27.

A. General.

I understand from a report by Lois Martin on Thursday Morning, July 26, that she spotted them near the Mass. Pike exit. That would mean that they just found the place and already they are exploring more than do the CRWG.

B. Lois.

(1) Report, July 27.


I went over to see the ducks and geese this morning between 7 and 7:30.

At first I could not locate the ducks but I am pretty sure they are on the other side of the river near the pike exit. I watched them and it appears as though it is them but I did not have binoculars with me.

They looked happy swimming and leaning into the water probably eating. The white geese seemed fine also. I brought them some more cracked corn. When I was there Tuesday Bill was there but no one was there this morning.

I will try to bring binoculars next time to check. But I hope they come back to this side when it gets cold because how will they survive by themselves over there.


(2) Your Editor.

I hope they will consent to visiting us on occasion they are beautiful creatures.

I will watch the situation closely.

4. Bill concurs with Lois.

A. Report, July 27.


That was them ... As I pretty much saw what lois described at 6:30 or there abouts....

After I checked and fed the few that weren't at magazine, and hangin in the meadow, I biked over to the Boston side and saw em up close. They were swimming usually so close they were touching.

You could see them from the meadow too ... Looking out from near the B.U.Bridge across the way.

B. Editor.

It is striking to see two ducks behaving like love struck humans.

These two guys are so close.

5. Photos.

I do not have the skill to put photos on this blog.

The following are addresses of photos which, in turn, were provided by Bill Naumann of Charles River Urban Wilds Initiative, Inc. Thank you, Bill.

6. Follow-up, July 31, 2006.

I wandered over to the Boston side of the Charles River looking for Andrake and Daffney at about 1:00 pm on a day in the 80's.

With careful hunting, I found them and they made it very clear that they are not interested in being friendly to a human male. Intelligent of them.

They have a nice location, in the water under thick cover.

Similar to what they held on to at Magazine Beach with very major improvements.

They are in water, not dirt.
They are safe from dogs and humans.
They have cover but it is a lot closer.
They are in their element, not in the element of the worst predators.

Disadvantage: One gentleman has mentioned big snapping turtles in this area who find wild ducks a delicacy. They swim up underneath and grab. But this is a problem of the food chain, of free animals. Not a problem of sick human beings.

They look happy. And beautiful.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Climate change and “Restoration” of Magazine Beach

Kathy Podgers comments. Marilyn and Bob respond.

1. Kathy Podgers.

For the past 10 years, since the unusual weather we experienced in 1996, I have been following stories about the phenomenon of Climate Change. One fact is affirmed over and over again, that scientists (note I did not say environmentalists) around the world agree on the data.

Unfortunately, here in the USA, this alarming compilation of evidence has been turned into a political fodder, with the "test tube" environmentalists "blaming" the rebubs for "Global Warming" and the "Corporate Lobby" claiming that saving the planet will cause a loss of jobs.

Of course what is needed is a united front, based on the empirical evidence we all have access to, and which evidence itself is not in dispute.

While the sea levels have been steadily rising, and the temperature of rivers has been rising, causing the death, extermination, and disruption in the migratory patterns of wildlife, including land animals, airborne and sea animals, here in Cambridge some folks, suffering from compartmentalized thinking, cannot understand that the fish cannot swim upstream to spawn, that the geese cannot find habitat on the tundra due to the melting of the perma frost, and that wild life never seen in these northern parts settles in.

Unfortunately, even plant species never seen in these temperate climes have been appearing. And folks, who just do not understand the connection between the change in climate, and in the adaptation of both plant and wildlife to these severe changes, are attempting to "restore" our local environment to a time when the weather here was much different, much colder, and when the seasonal changes were significantly different.

I have recommended that folks go to see the film An Inconvenient Truth, so they can get a painless update on where we really stand today on this small boat, planet earth, that we all share. I wonder how many have seen it, or read the devastating data on this serious threat to our way of life? Perhaps the strategy of continuing to ignore this, and remaining ignorant of this Truth is convenient, so folks can continue to implement environmental strategies that are doomed to fail.

I never cease to marvel at the power of activily ignoring the approaching storm until the levee is breached.

Spending time on Lake Erie for the past 60 years has shown me the powerful force of Mother Nature. There is no man made devise, no technology, no business plan no smart bomb, that can return the environment of the Great Lakes to what it was in the 1950's. I have witnessed this environmental shock with my own eves, gradually, it changed, over 50 years.

However, the changes that are about to pull the blindfolds off those of us living here in Cambridge are approaching at break neck speed. Folks are rushing to Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica to watch the glaciers "calving." Soon they will be rushing to put flood insurance into place, but not realizing the ins co's are beating them to the punch by getting legislation passed that would allow them to deny flood ins even to folks who do not live on a flood

So, I wonder, why do folks believe that if we dam the Charles, it then is no longer an Estuary? Has anyone sent a telegram informing Mother Nature that the wetlands at "Magazine Beach" are no longer part of her "flood management plan" because the habitat has been destroyed? LOL

The Estuary that we refer to the Charles River is still an estuary. What will be the effect upon our local environment if the Sea leval on the other side of the dam rises 5' in 5 years? how about a 10' rise.

Gee, want to make fun of me, belittle me, how about read this message, but not respond to it, continue to ignore it, and wave more silly banners declaring how we are the beat and the brightest and Mother Nature has no dominion here!

Copied here please find the most recent article that provoked me to share my opinion on Climate change with you all. Perhaps we could dispatch our resident experts in "Non Native" or "Invasive Species" to Antarctica, to aid them in their "Restoration" efforts?" Please note I am not being sarcastic, I and drawing a picture.

Enjoy your evening, downpour and all, and get used to it; welcome to the realities of climate change.

ever your good neighbor,


Trees could grow in Antarctica within century: scientist
Wed Jul 12, 1:30 PM ET

Trees could be growing in the Antarctic within a century because of global warming, an international scientific conference heard.

With carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere set to double in the next 100 years, the icy continent could revert to how it looked about 40 million years ago, said Professor Robert Dunbar of Stanford University.

"It was warm and there were bushes and there were trees," he told some 850 delegates in the Tasmanian capital Hobart, the national AAP news agency reported.

The delegates are attending the combined meetings of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs.

Dunbar said climate experts were predicting a doubling of the levels of carbon dioxide by 2100, "but it actually looks like it's going to come sooner unfortunately."

Scientists blame greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, produced mainly by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, for causing rising temperatures worldwide.

2. Marilyn Wellons.

This is excellent.

For me, one of the exciting things about birds is that they're descended from the dinosaurs. Paleontologists are now pretty certain that's the case, that birds' ancestors survived catastrophic climate change after the asteroids (I think there were at least two different ones) hit the earth (Alvarez theory, as I remember).

I've wondered if migratory patterns began with the flying dinosaurs' search for habitat after the explosions. The patterns would co-evolve with the animals themselves, of course, over the course of millions of years.

So it makes perfect sense that birds' migratory patterns are changing with climate change.

And your point about plants' and other animals' movement is very well taken. See Stephen Jay Gould's article in Arnoldia (An Evolutionary Perspective on Strengths, Fallacies, and Confusions in the Concept of Native Plants, Arnoldia, Vol. 58, No 1 [1998], pp. 2-10) for a discussion of change in plant and animal populations.

A further point, of course, is that landscape design and our own government parks agencies are the last redoubt of nativist thinking in this country. See the article by two German professors, "The Native Plant Enthusiasm: Ecological Panacea or Xenophobia?" Arnoldia, Vol. 62, No. 4 [2004], pp. 20-28. Well, maybe not the very last redoubt, but certainly in there.


3. Bob La Trémouille

The extreme and belligerent hypocrisy of nine Cambridge City Councillors cannot and should not be ignored.

For these hypocrites to claim that all is well with them “saving the world” and destroying Cambridge makes exactly the opposite of what they tell their constituents: an excellent case study in destroying the world while spouting extreme hypocrisy.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Report on Transportation Issues, including Charles Street in Boston

Marilyn Wellons reports:

I attended a meeting of the Regional Transportation Advisory Council (RTAC), a group that advises the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The MPO is responsible, among other things, for all transportation projects receiving federal transportation funds and all "regionally significant" transportation projects regardless of funding source. The Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) serves as staff to the MPO and other organizations.

One member of the RTAC asked what the status of the Charles Street project is. Apparently this is a City of Boston and Mass Highways project that backs up Storrow Drive and the Longfellow Bridge at the Charles Street MBTA station, also under construction. There are problems of safety (ambulances can’t get through the crush to Mass General Hospital—the RTAC member said he lives two blocks away and would die of a heart attack before he could get to the hospital) and air pollution.

The project is already two years overdue and won’t be done for two more years.

The CTPS response was that the implementing agencies have bridges to work on (Mass Highways is the implementing agency for the Department of Conservation and Recreation's [DCR] highways and bridges that connect to the Charles Street circle) and the state is paying 50% of the Big Dig costs. Therefore things are slow. (I would think the fatal tunnel accident will also complicate transportation funds and planning.)

Talking with the RTAC member after the meeting, I mentioned the DCR’s Storrow tunnel, Longfellow and BU Bridges, and Mem Drive “Historic Parkways” Phase 2 projects as bearing on his question, and the RTAC member immediately added the Bowker overpass to the list. The Bowker overpass refers to Storrow Drive at the Fenway exit over Commonwealth Avenue and, according to previous statements by the DCR, like the Storrow tunnel is also in imminent danger of collapse. (See how close the Bowker is to the Storrow tunnel on the map at

I said DCR won’t say anything about the Mem Drive project (they won’t even say who knows anything about it), hasn't mentioned the Bowker even when discussing the tunnel, except when I asked, and has delayed releasing specifics about the Longfellow Bridge. And now of course the DCR has added the BU Bridge to its “all falling down” list.

I said all these projects are related, and that I bet they’re all in suspension til Harvard (the “600-pound gorilla” in the mix) reveals specifically what it wants for the Allston campus. Then all modifications to these "problem" structures and all priorities will fall into place, justified as the optimum and in the public interest.

On that score, we’re still waiting for public release of the Harvard-funded Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) study of transportation alternatives in Allston, which I understand is now circulating among the parties. These parties surely include not only Harvard and the EOT, but also the City of Boston, the Mass Pike Authority, the Port Authority, and CSX (the bigger of the two local railroads at the Beacon yards in Allston), and the DCR as well. There may be an executive summary of Phase 1—logistics and freight—issued at the end of the summer. The study’s Phase 2—infrastructure—may be done by late winter, although its due date is as late as June, 2007.

Marilyn Wellons


The RTAC member cited an editorial by the Beacon Hill Times about Cambridge Street. Mind you, it was written before the fatal accident in the Big Dig tunnel. Here it is:

Cambridge Street commentary by times staff

From Mayor Menino to State House denizens to all the folks who live in the West End and the north slope of Beacon Hill, the only thing being talked about is what appears to be an abandoned construction site on Cambridge Street.
The reasons do not seem to be complex. From what we can glean—and our reporting, we have to acknowledge, is imperfect since everyone we talk with dodges and weaves—the problem is one of priorities. The contractor and the sub-contractors have no sense of urgency, and the Massachusetts Highway Department either has no authority over them or chooses not to wield any.

Cambridge Street construction began in February, 2003. As everyone points out to one another, no work of any consequence has taken place between Charles Circle and Bowdoin Street since last fall.

John Lepore, whom we continue to defend as managing the best he can with the resources he has been given, remains optimistic about completion. He promised that he will provide a chart to The Beacon Hill Times tomorrow that will outline the work to be completed and when it will be done.

We will publish that chart next week on the front page. We will continue to follow this project—on the front page and even through the winter—until the last tree is planted and watered.

We continue to marvel: Mass Highway, which doesn’t have enough authority or competence to complete a half mile of roadway in three and a half years, is the agency Governor Romney wants to take over the turnpike authority, which runs the best roads in the state. If Governor Romney were in Massachusetts more often and driving down Cambridge Street, he might realize his folly.

( 4)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cambridge Conservation Commission and Magazine Beach

On Monday night, July 10, the Cambridge Conservation Commission heard the Department of Conservation and Recreation's request for a three-year extension for DCR work at Magazine Beach. I submitted the letter posted here.

A bit of background: In September, 2004, even as the bees were tumbling in the flowers, this project ripped out a beautiful stand of plants all along the riverfront, and planted, at great expense, items chosen by the DCR's design consultant.

These delicate designer plants have been protected for almost two years by barriers on land and in the water that just coincidentally have kept the White Geese from feeding at Magazine Beach. The destruction of the flowering plants and the starvation of the White Geese are part of the same misguided policy of eradicating species deemed "non-native" and "invasive" from the Charles River parkland. The DCR and City of Cambridge have jointly been pursuing this policy at Magazine Beach.

As you can see from the letter, the Cambridge Conservation Commission believes lawn grasses are "native plants." However, they are no more or less "native" than the Charles River White Geese themselves. Whether "native" or not, the grass at Magazine Beach's 7 acres is the White Geese's primary food source. Only their friends' year-round efforts to protect the geese and to provide other food have kept the animals alive since the beginning of the project at Magazine Beach.

The City of Cambridge is footing the $1.5 million bill for this work on state parkland.

The Conservation Commission voted to continue the hearing to its August 14, 2006 meeting.


To the Cambridge Conservation Commission:

re: DCR request for 3-year extension, DEP File No. 123-166, Magazine Beach

The original Environmental Notification Form and Notice of Intent for this project were in error. In concept and execution the project has been flawed. Consequently the request for a three-year extension should be denied.

The ENF Project Narrative (September, 2003) acknowledges that much of the land subject to flooding at Magazine Beach, i.e., the target of Phases 1a and 1b, is “often considered to be valuable wildlife habitat, especially [as at Magazine Beach] within the buffer zone of a bank or bordering vegetated wetland.” The Narrative asserts, however, that Magazine Beach’s habitat is not protected because it has been “so extensively altered by human activity that [its] important wildlife habitat functions have been effectively eliminated.” This is patently false.

The habitat value of such land at Magazine Beach has not yet been eliminated. The project before you will do so, however. It is, itself, a critical part of the DCR’s progressive elimination of habitat at Magazine Beach, is itself an environmental crime the Wetlands Protection Act is designed to prevent. As executors of the law you should deny the DCR’s request and pursue remedies for the damage done to date.

The history of the fallen willow at the upriver portion of Phase 1a, shown on all plans submitted to the Commission, indicates the problems of the DCR’s representations on this score. The tree provided valuable habitat for turtles, waterfowl, and other animals. The DCR cut up and removed the viable, living tree during the course of the project, then failed to tell the truth about it at a December 1, 2005 public meeting in Cambridge.

Further, Magazine Beach’s grassy meadows are the primary food source of the Charles River White Geese and, after the DCR’s exclusion of Canada geese from much of the lower Charles, of Canadas as well. Large groups of Mallard ducks and gulls of all sorts also rest and feed there. The habitat value of Magazine Beach is great, but doomed if the Commission grants this extension.

The ENF claims the project conforms to the Coastal Zone Management Program’s Habitat Policy #1, and will “enhance the existing habitat value of the Charles River bank” (p. 11). To the contrary, at minimum, Phase 1a has already prevented waterfowl from feeding there, beginning in September, 2004, and destroyed the willow. Completion of Phase 1a and Phase 1b will permanently destroy this primary source of food.

Thus, rather than increase public access to and uses of the Charles River, the project will permanently reduce them. Softball, soccer, small boat launchings, wildlife viewing, and quiet enjoyment of the air, land, and water were all possible before the project. To date, Phase 1a has already greatly diminished passive uses: gone are the White Geese and easy public access to the length of the water’s edge. If the Commission grants this extension, it will permanently remove Magazine Beach from the city’s (and region’s) scarce stock of passive open space—critical habitat for humans who enjoy time with the natural world on the river.

To cite only a few more examples of the agency’s failure to comply with the Order of Conditions, please note that erosion on the new walkway has not been remedied, the disturbed area by the puddle has not been reseeded. Beyond this, the DCR’s bridge at the riverfront fails to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and has already caused at least one bicycle accident. Only another major infusion of capital and an extended Order of Conditions will remedy these failures?

At Magazine Beach, the Commission faces a fundamental problem of the DCR’s “vegetation management” and “restorations” involving “native” or “non-invasive” plants. In its original Order of Conditions (July 15, 2003) at No. 36, the Commission assumes that lawn grasses are “native” plants (it does not specify whether “native” to North America, the East Coast, southern New England, or the Charles River, and from what date). Although you accept these grasses as “native,” they are no more so than the Charles River White Geese: early colonists had to import seeds for pasturage to North America, and lawn grasses are descended from the imports.

Conceptually, the project aims to “restore” Magazine Beach to some landscape it never was. The plants that grew on the lower Charles from the last Ice Age to the damming of the Charles changed with time and the course of the river, but they were always plants adapted to tidal flows of salty water. The section of Magazine Beach this project is to “restore” may have been entirely underwater, or tidal flat. In either case it did not have the plants the DCR’s designer chose for the banks of the now-freshwater Charles.

It may be time for the Commission to clarify issues of “native” and “invasive” plants in order properly to evaluate such “restorations.” The science of the terms is obviously confused (see Stephen Jay Gould, “An Evolutionary Perspective on Strengths, Fallacies, and Confusions in the Concept of Native Plants,” Arnoldia, Vol. 58, No 1 [1998], pp. 2-10); the confusion affects the Commission’s acts. Extending the Order of Conditions without a public process of clarification would be a mistake.

At Magazine Beach, the wind, water, and birds planted the asters, goldenrod, convolvulus, false indigo, and other plants that the DCR, with the Commission’s consent, eradicated there in September, 2004. These formed a stable, low-cost, beautiful, and “native,” even “natural” border at the river’s edge. Interestingly, it lacked purple loosestrife, a “non-native invasive” in the Commission’s terms. Following the “restoration,” however, purple loosestrife is now at Magazine Beach and will be spreading.

The Commission may wish to grant the agency the benefit of the doubt, as in so many previous DCR projects. Given the fundamental errors grounding the DCR’s effort here, you would in that case abdicate a grave responsibility to the public to protect our wetlands and associated resource areas.

Yours sincerely,
Marilyn Wellons