Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Boston Con Com Considers DCR's Fake Vegetation Management Plan

1. Letter from Marilyn Wellons.
2. Analysis of Bob La Trémouille.

1. Letter from Marilyn Wellons.

The following was submitted to the Boston Conservation Commission this evening, August 16, 2006:

To the Boston Conservation Commission:

re: DCR request for an Extension Permit for Order of
Conditions DEP File No. 006-0971 for the Charles River
Basin Shoreline Vegetation Management Plan, and review
of vegetation management work performed during 2005
and work proposed for 2006, Charles River, Boston
(Riverfront Area, Inland Bank, 100-foot Buffer Zone).

Erosion, loss of habitat, and diminished water quality
are direct, practical consequences of flawed
vegetation management policies and practices on the
Charles. Recognizing this, the Commission has
attached Special Conditions to previous approvals of
the DCR’s Vegetation Management Plan.

In July, 2003 at Item 40, you specify that “[o]n the
banks between the Boston University Bridge and the
Western Avenue Bridge, the applicant . . . shall not
cut False Indigo in order to protect habitat of
herring and heron.” Otherwise, you instruct the DCR
to perform two cuttings each year, to a minimum height
of between 6 and 12 inches (Item 30).

While the applicant states in its July 5, 2006 Plan
that False Indigo provides “nesting areas for
songbirds and erosion protection along the shoreline,”
(CRB VMP Narrative, p. 4), it nevertheless lists it as
a “species of concern” without defining the term or
stating what the concern is.

I have found no definition of “species of concern” in
the literature on “invasive plants,” nor does the
Massachusetts Invasive Plants Advisory Group list it
as an “invasive species” since it is “native” to
Massachusetts. False Indigo’s problem seems to be its
uncut ultimate height of 12-13 feet. Unchecked, it
would in some places partially obstruct views of the
Head of the Charles.

It is for this reason I believe the False Indigo and
other plants in the prime Head of the Charles viewing
spot between the Weeks Footbridge and Larz Anderson
Bridge have been severely cut for at least ten years.
As a result, the remaining few, weakened plants cannot
provide adequate buttressing to the shore against the
prevailing winter winds from the northwest. At the
Commission’s site visit on August 14, 2006, we
considered the major loss of several acres of public
parkland to erosion there.

Taking only the example of False Indigo’s place in the
VMP, I would suggest that the Commission recognize the
plant’s virtues rather than consider it a “species of
concern.” I also suggest you prohibit its coppicing
on this small part of the riverbank for two years. At
the end of that time it should be possible to see if
greater vigor and the possible spread of the present
survivors succeeds in holding the shore.

Sections of the bank where there is no False Indigo
will surely continue to erode into the river, but the
DCR has no immediate plan to remedy the problem. The
uncut False Indigo, valued for erosion control, might
prove its great worth throughout the basin. If it
does not, the Commission would have lost little in the
attempt to find out since, again, the DCR has no
immediate plans to stop future erosion at the site in
question or to replace its lost acres of land.

In your review of the DCR’s vegetation management work
in 2005 and in 2006 to date, please see my enclosed
letter to you dated April 19, 2006 about unsupervised
cutting on the river.

Yours sincerely,

2. Analysis of Bob La Trémouille.

The nicest think I have to say about the DCR's fake vegetation management plan is that the DCR Chairman shouted me down when I tried to intersperse reality among the DCR's lies.

The DCR brags about leaving a foot of vegetation and ROUTINELY clear cuts on the Charles River.

The DCR has no honor.

Department of Conservation and Recreation Poisoning the Charles River?

Update, 8/31/06: The Cambridge Conservation Commission hearing mentioned below is now 9/11/06 at 7 pm, Cambridge City Hall Annex, corner of Broadway and Inman Street in Cambridge.

The DCR is apparently trying to get somebody to support its application. Since their reprehensible front organization the Charles River Conservancy was coming that night anyway, the hearing is now 9/11/06.


This morning, WBZ Radio in Boston reported the sighting of possibly poisonous algae in the Charles River on the harbor side of the Mass. Ave. Bridge.

The Charles River White Geese have traditionally lived a half a mile east and west of the BU Bridge which is the next bridge after the Mass. Ave. Bridge going away from the harbor, perhaps a mile or so further west.

The Museum of Science mentioned in Marilyn's report below is perhaps half a mile from the harbor and built on the Charles River Dam. Going outbound (westerly) from there are the Longfellow Bridge, then the Mass. Ave. Bridge, then the B.U. Bridge.

Marilyn reports:

I suspect the poisonous algae bloom by the Museum of
Science is directly related to fertilizer at the new
"Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at Lederman Park."
Lederman Park is on the Boston side of the river by
MGH and the Longfellow Bridge, i.e., just upriver from
the Museum of Science. The "Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox
Fields" are regulation Little League fields
constructed in a DCR "public-private partnership."
[For more information on the fields and the DCR's
private partners see]

So there are now 6 acres of new turf, installed by the
DCR, on the banks of the Charles.

We know that one precipitating cause of algae bloom is
fertilizer runoff. Given the extraordinary rains
earlier in the summer, there was probably runoff from
the "Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at Lederman Park"
despite the newly installed drainage and irrigation
systems there. Whether the 6 acres of sod had been
treated with fertilizer before installation, whether
they were treated with fertilizer after, are questions
I think the DEP and appropriate public health
authorities need to ask.

I don't know of other large tracts of riverbank that
would have been treated with fertilizer.

The DCR does say all that rain led to a fungus
infection now killing the newly installed turf at the "Teeddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at Lederman Park." Consequently they asked for, and received
permission from, the Boston Conservation Commission to
apply "Tartan," a fungicide, on August 3, 2006.

So a further question is whether the DCR may have
applied "Tartan" between August 3 and the bloom.
"Tartan" is toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates, and
98% stable in water. The manufacturer's data sheet
says, "Do not apply directly to water, to areas where
surface water is present . . . . Drift and runoff from
treated areas may be hazardous to fish/aquatic
organisms in adjacent sites. . . . Do not apply when
weather conditions favor runoff or drift" (Bayer
Environmental Science, Material Safety Data Sheet,
Tartan Fungicide, Revision Date: 02/09/2006). Killing
off fish and aquatic organisms with runoff or drift
from "Tartan" into the Charles at "Teddy Ebersol's Red
Sox Fields at Lederman Park" might contribute to algae

Interestingly, the "Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at
Lederman Park" seem to be the prototype for the ball
fields the DCR and Cambridge plan for Magazine Beach.
Remember, the Cambridge Conservation Commission will
consider whether to allow this project at its upcoming
August 28, 2006 meeting at 7 pm at the McCusker
Center, 344 Broadway (corner Inman and Broadway).

Like the fields slated to be destroyed at Magazine
Beach, the fields where "Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at Lederman
Park" now are were also in the Mass Wetlands Protection Act's
category of "bordering land subject to flooding." The
Boston project replaced 6 acres of waterfront grass
with gravel, topsoil, an irrigation system, and sod,
plus regulation Little League fields, including
extensive chain-link fences and many klieg lights on
60-foot high poles.

This is essentially the plan for Magazine Beach's 7
acres: dig up wet dirt and grass, replace with
gravel, dry dirt, sod, and an irrigation system, and
add chain-link fences. All that's missing from the
plans are the klieg lights (for now).

The DCR says Magazine Beach would ordinarily be rich
habitat for wildlife, but it's already been so
developed by humans that it no longer is. As a casual
visit shows, there's plenty of wildlife--Canada geese,
gulls, ducks, hawks--at Magazine Beach all year round.
It is the pending Cambridge-DCR plans for the place
that will themselves destroy its ongoing value as
habitat, however.

The DCR began to destroy Lederman Park as habitat
several years ago when it sought to "upgrade" the ball
fields there. The DCR specifically cited geese and
goose droppings at Lederman Park as a problem in 2004
when it asked for, and got, US Fish and Wildlife's
permission to poison Canada goose eggs and otherwise
expel the animals from the lower basin.

Similarly the DCR and Cambridge have worked since 2004
to expel the Charles River White Geese from their
primary source of food, the "bordering land subject to
flooding," at Magazine Beach prior to the pending
"upgrade" of the ball fields there.

One last observation. Last year the Charles River
Watershed Association declared the lower
Charles--between Lederman Park and the Museum of
Science--to be swimmable. The water was clean and a
perfect temperature. This year, after construction of
"Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at Lederman Park," we
have poisonous algae in the very same place.

Would the appropriate authorities please give us an
honest investigation of the possible link between
chemicals applied to land within 100' of the river and
the algae bloom?

Marilyn Wellons