Newton Conservators logo fall photo of Sawmill Brook
 
 

Environmental Show on the Web

 

Programs produced by the Conservators for the NewTV series, The Environmental Show, are now viewable on the web.

June 2015 note: we've recently changed the site where shows can be viewed online. If you have trouble with any of the links on this page, please contact us.

 
Descriptions of Individual Programs
 
Saving Newton's Last Farm Newton's Envi Sci Program for Teens
Recreational Opportunities in Cold Spring Park Living With Wildlife in Newton
A Naturalist's View of Cold Spring Park Newton's Nature: Survey of Open Spaces
Flora and Fauna of the Charles River Newton's Aqueducts:
Preserving Our Historic Green Pathways
Appreciating the Charles River Newton Angino Community Farm
Kesseler Woods -
Community Preservation in Action
Blue Heron Bridge Opening
North of Quabbin: Spring 2008 Lecture Charles River Reflections
Invasive Alien Plant Update - Parts 1 and 2  
 

 

Saving Newton's Last Farm  

"Saving Newton's Last Farm" describes the history and background of Angino Farm and the efforts to acquire the property to operate under the Community Supported Agriculture model.  The October 2004 show interviews those who knew Jerry Angino, who last farmed the land, as well as those involved in the effort to turn the property into the Newton Community Farm.  The show includes a visit to a CSA farm in Framingham and discussion with the farmers there about the workings of a CSA.  (A later program in the series shows Newton Angino Community Farm in operation.)  

 

 

Recreational Opportunities in Cold Spring Park  

"Recreational Opportunities in Cold Spring Park" explores one of Newton's most attractive open areas, with its combination of playing fields, exercise trail, walking paths, wetlands, woodsy spots, and scenic views. Cold Spring Park is also home, in the summer, for the weekly Farmers' Market which draws hundreds of Newton shoppers in search of fresh, locally grown produce.  The 2004 show features interviews and action shots of people enjoying all that the park has to offer, from the "Three Explorers," a group of youngsters who take their nature study seriously, to joggers and exercise buffs who count on the park facilities for physical fitness. You will also be treated to an intimate view of Cold Spring Park, given a bit of its history, and offered a chance to join in a walk around its trails.   

 

A Naturalist's View of Cold Spring Park  

"A Naturalist's View of Cold Spring Park" features colorful birds, plants and amphibians found in this 67-acre public preserve.  Dan Perlman, Biology Professor and Director of Environmental Studies at Brandeis University, shows how plants grow and change in Cold Spring Park during the four seasons, and also how non-native plants have moved into the park. Jon Regosin, of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Division, joins him to take a look at the vernal pools at Cold Spring and the various salamanders, toads, frogs and insects that breed and live in and around the pools at different depths.  Cris Criscitiello, a retired physician, serves both as host of the February 2005 show and guide to the beautiful warblers, woodpeckers, hawks, ducks, and other birds that visit and live in the park.   

 

Flora and Fauna of the Charles River

Photo by Carole Smith Berney"Flora and Fauna of the Charles River" celebrates the Charles River with a virtual walk along the one-mile stretch of the river from Watertown Square to Bridge Street. For the Fall 2014 Newton Conservators Lecture, photographer and naturalist Carole Smith Berney presented a colorful and entertaining look at the river and pathway, featuring the wildflowers, birds, herons, ducks, turtles, and furry creatures found there. See the riverscape along with the people who walk, run, skate, bike, fish, and birdwatch along the path. 

One portion of the show focuses on the efforts of Massachusetts DCR planner Dan Driscoll, with before and after shots of the Charles River Pathway. Berney is a Watertown naturalist, wildlife photographer, and nature educator. Inspired by her many walks on the Charles River Path in Watertown and Newton, she has documented life along the river in all seasons and weather over several years. Her "portraits" of animals help to enhance the community's appreciation of the biodiversity and natural beauty found close to urban settings. She exhibits her work locally and presents slideshows for libraries, community groups, assisted-living facilities, senior centers, and schools. 

 

Appreciating the Charles River  

The Charles River is Newton's great waterway.  "Appreciating the Charles River" takes a look at the history, recreational opportunities, and efforts to keep the river clean and accessible for the many citizens who enjoy it.  Guests on this 2005 program include Dan Driscoll, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) visionary responsible for the Charles River Pathway; Thelma Fleishman, Newton historian; Bob Zimmerman, head of the Charles River Watershed Association; and Norm Sieman, director of the Charles River Stream Team.  Enjoy the varied moods of the Charles from the quiet of the Lakes district to the excitement of the annual "Run of the Charles" canoe race.  Learn about the recently built Blue Heron Bridge and the iconic Echo Bridge.  

 

Kesseler Woods - Community Preservation in Action  

This program focuses on the acquisition of Kesseler Woods via a public/private partnership.  This was one of the last large, privately owned pieces of open space in Newton. By connecting the existing 20-acre Saw Mill Brook Conservation Area with the 5-acre Bald Pate Meadow Conservation Area, this new property will create a 50-plus-acre swath of green. In addition to recreational opportunities, this area will preserve much-needed wildlife habitat, enhance groundwater recharge, and provide other environmental benefits. The Newton Conservators played an important role in identifying the value of this open space, which runs between Brookline Street and Lagrange Street.  The Conservators advocated for the purchase of Kesseler Woods, using Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to leverage a unique public-private partnership with Cornerstone Corporation developers. Under the plan, about half of the land will be developed for homes and condominiums, while the remaining 28 acres will remain protected open space and wetlands. Without this partnership, a developer could have built on most of the property, except for the wetland. The Conservators will also hold a conservation restriction on the preserved area and monitor the development of walking trails through the property. In this 2005 video, current and past presidents of the Conservators--Bill Hagar, Eric Reenstierna, and Doug Dickson--tell the story of this unique partnership, along with Mayor David Cohen, Alderman Rick Lipof, and developer Tom Southworth.    

 

Newton's Envi Sci Program for Teens  

In our busy suburban world, kids don't get to experience nature much unless it's planned into their schedules. That's why Newton's Environmental Science Program for teens is special.  This 2005 episode travels along with teens as they go hiking, biking, canoeing, and climbing. They visit woods and ponds, the Charles River, parks, a salt marsh, and mountains, winding up with a stay at the highest peak in the northeast (Mount Washington). They also participate in a hands-on environmental cleanup project each year. As several of the teens point out, they make friends and have fun while they're out there. The summer program was started by Newton teachers in the 1960's with a Ford Foundation grant designed to get kids out into the environment instead of learning about it only through books and labs. The program now operates under the Newton Conservation Commission. Many of the students eventually become leaders in the program, trained to teach their younger peers what they have learned about plants and animals, geology, and ecology. In fact, many of the participants go on to careers in science. All carry with them a lifetime appreciation for our natural environment. 

 

Living With Wildlife in Newton - Part 1  

"Living With Wildlife in Newton - Part 1" provides background perspective on the phenomenon of why we see more wildlife in Newton these days. Animals find the suburban habitat and available food sources well suited to their needs. The proximity of wildlife sometimes leads to conflict. 
 
Reasons for this change were presented by Colleen Olfenbuttel, staff member of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, in her 2005 lecture at the Newton Free Library, sponsored by the Conservators. She noted that all of these animals were living in the forests of New England when European settlers arrived in the 17th century. They disappeared after the trees were cut for timber and the land cleared for farming. By 1840, much of the soil was exhausted, farming became more difficult, and people moved to richer lands of the Midwest or sought their fortunes in large cities with the coming of the industrial revolution.  Since that time, our forests have returned, and now an estimated 70% of Massachusetts is covered with second growth. This has led to restoration of wild animal populations, with the exception of wolves and mountain lions, entirely extirpated from the Northeast through bounty hunting. As housing has exploded into rural areas, with developments rising in forested landscapes, human encounters with wildlife have increased. Suburban gardens, shrubs, fruit trees, and bird feeders provide tempting food for many wild creatures, and garbage added to mulch piles or left outside in trash bags spells "dinner" for raccoons, skunks, and coyotes. Crawl spaces under porches and garages attract these same animals, and also foxes, as dens for rearing young. With hunting prohibited, large predators absent, food supplies handy, and living space provided, why should they forego such comforts?  

Living with wildlife in our surroundings is a source of pleasure for most Newton residents, but we find some challenges in our attempt to maintain a healthy and happy coexistence with these new species as they return to their rightful domain. In order that they may be protected and continue normal patterns of behavior in the wild, it is important that they not become dependent on humans for food and living space.
 
This episode covers in detail the return to the suburban environment of deer, fox, moose, bobcat, raccoon, coyote, and fishers. 

 

Living With Wildlife in Newton - Part 2

A coyote statue scares off visiting geese"Living With Wildlife in Newton - Part 2" shows practical steps that can be taken to help residents coexist peacefully with their wildlife neighbors and to minimize conflicts with coyotes, turkeys, geese and other wild Newton creatures.  The show is based on a 2005 Newton Conservators Lecture given by Colleen Olfenbuttel, a staff Biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, at the Newton Free Library.

Wildlife encounters with coyotes, turkeys, deer, possum, fisher, fox, and geese are becoming increasingly common here in Newton.  What do you do when a wily coyote visits your backyard?  Tennis anyone?  Tennis balls thrown at a coyote can be an effective deterrent. Or how about discouraging wild turkeys by moving toward them with an open umbrella?  Keeping your cats inside, your bird feeders clean, and making sure your trash is in cans with lids are all some of the steps you will learn to make your yard less of a draw to some wild creatures.

Animals find the suburban habitat and available food sources well suited to their needs. The proximity of wildlife sometimes leads to conflict.  Part 2 shows how to deal with such wildlife in a practical sense.  Such wildlife encounters are becoming increasingly common in cities such as Newton.  In recent years in Newton, a bald eagle was spotted feasting on fresh Charles River fish,  an otter was found cavorting in a West Newton swimming pool, a turkey was harassing a postal worker in Newtonville, a wild moose chase occurred, and deer, coyote, fox, and even fisher sightings are more common than ever.

Lecturer Colleen Olfenbuttel joined the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) in September 2005 as a wildlife biologist and furbearer project leader. She has her undergraduate degree in wildlife biology from Ohio University, and her Master's degree in wildlife science from Virginia Tech, where she studied black bears in southwestern Virginia for 6 years. Besides black bears, she has performed research on brown bears in Alaska, island foxes in California, white-tailed deer in Minnesota, raptors in Michigan, and wolves in Montana and Wyoming. 

 

Newton's Aqueducts: Preserving Our Historic Green Pathways  

This 2006 program takes viewers on a tour of Newton's Aqueduct pathways, highlighting both their special joys and the need to preserve these beautiful greenways for future generations.  Beautiful footage shows where the paths begin along the Charles River and run through Waban and Newton Highlands to the Newton Center Playground. Host Cris Criscitiello points out the wildflowers, trees and birds along the way. Engineer Frank Steiger explains how the huge aqueduct pipes originally brought water into the city, dropping six inches a mile because they used only gravity, no pumps. Doug Dickson, a past president of the Newton Conservators and a member of the Newton Conservation Commission, explains efforts to maintain and preserve these pathways. Henry Finch, who has frequently given tours of these pathways for the Newton Conservators, explains the ins and outs of several areas along the way.

 

Newton Angino Community Farm

Asparagus at the farmNewton Community Farm, Newton's last farm, is turning out crops again after many dormant years.  This 2006 program tours the farm, the greenhouse, and the various plantings with Farm Manager Greg Maslowe, farm educator Liz Gleason, and her students.  Angino Farm was once one of several small family farms on the south side of Newton, until land values and development rendered them extinct.  This farm, located at the corner of Winchester and Nahanton Streets was purchased in 2004 with Community Preservation Funds, a special fund voted by Newton residents to preserve open spaces and historic sites, provide passive recreation, and offer low income housing.  Matching funds are provided by the state. The Newton Conservators had advocated strongly to save Newton's last farm both as an historic agricultural vista and an opportunity for our children and grandchildren to see and experience firsthand the way our food grows. The farm is now open to families that have bought crop shares for the entire summer and to educational programs for children.  A farm stand is also open to anyone who wants to stop and buy some delicious organic vegetables.  The farm's produce has also been available at the Friday farmer's market at Post 440 in Nonantum. 

 

Newton's Nature: Survey of Open Spaces

People use their open spaces and parks in varied ways. Some go there for exercise, others to find a sunny spot for a picnic or a chat with friends, but many people, young and old, go to study nature. They're interested in identifying the various, trees, shrubs, wildflowers, mushrooms, etc. as well as any living creatures they encounter, and they enjoy following changes in the vegetation and wildlife through the seasons. In 1995, Conservation officials in the City of Newton, MA hired a professional naturalist to perform an extensive survey of all life-forms existing in its major open areas and public parks. Ten years later, members of one of the city's major environmental groups, the Newton Conservators, decided to undertake a similar study to find what changes had occurred in these same urban wild areas. This 2007 film shows how their group, with its members skilled in various fields of natural history, made the rounds each season of all the city's conservation areas and parks to find out how things stood after a decade had passed. Their search for what's new, what's missing, and what's crowding out the native species in these places might be of interest to environmentalists in other cities around the nation.

This video is not presently available online.

 

Blue Heron Bridge Opening

This program covers the official opening of the Charles Greenway and Blue Heron Bridge on Sept. 23rd, 2005. This was the formal opening of the DCR's new one mile greenway corridor that travels from Bridge Street in Newton to Farwell Street in Waltham (traveling through Watertown). This segment of the Upper Charles River Reservation was the critical missing link needed to provide the desired continuous linear connections between Boston and Waltham. Just prior to Cheesecake Brook in Newton, the new greenway features a distinguished footbridge (10 feet wide, and approximately 140 feet long) over the Charles River, connecting to woodland on the opposite bank in Watertown. The greenway continues west out to Farwell Street in Waltham. Dan Driscoll, DCR planner, was instrumental in getting the pathway and bridge project completed over many years.

 

North of Quabbin: Spring 2008 Lecture

Newton's pure water originates in the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts, yet the area around Quabbin is unfamiliar to most residents except for perhaps birding and fishing enthusiasts. Allen Young, land protection advocate and author of "North of Quabbin Revisited: A Guide to Nine Towns North of the Quabbin Reservoir" talks about the unique nine-town area known as the North Quabbin as well as the Quabbin Reservoir itself, and about exciting and sometimes difficult land protection and recreational opportunities there. It has relevance for the people of Newton who may appreciate the concept of saving the rural parts of the Commonwealth that are under so much development pressure.

Allen Young, journalist and author of 13 books, has lived for nearly 35 years in the North Quabbin Region, one of the most rural areas of Massachusetts. He settled to the town of Royalston (population about 1,000) in 1973 as part of the "back-to-the-land" movement, taking a job as reporter for the Athol Daily News, later working as the community relations director for the Athol Memorial Hospital. His most recent book is a collection of articles entitled "Make Hay While the Sun Shines: Farms, Forests and People of the North Quabbin." Now retired, he cultivates a large vegetable and flower garden, and volunteers for the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, dedicated to protecting farms and forests in a 23-town area. He holds a masters degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and was even briefly a reporter for the Washington Post.

This Conservators lecture was held in March 2008.

 

Invasive Alien Plant Update - A Newton Perspective Part 1

Invasive Alien Plant Update - A Newton Perspective Part 2

The City of Newton is under attack from alien invaders. They have come from far away and are taking over our back yards, parks, and conservation areas. Slowly and quietly they are creeping into our public open spaces, disrupting the natural balance of nature and crowding out our native plants Some of them, like purple loosestrife, are quite pretty but take over our wetlands; others like japanese knotweed grow tall extremely fast while spreading farther afield underground; still others are even sold at garden stores to unsuspecting customers. Well known author, lecturer and naturalist Peter Alden, from Concord, MA, presents a lecture and slideshow with a stunning display of the twenty worst invasive alien plants in the Newton area. You will come away from the presentation with the knowledge of how to recognize these plants and what some of the control options are. You will find out what is happening at the state level and in the legislature in how to deal with severe menace to our city's biodiversity. 2007

 

Charles River Reflections

A reflective look at the Charles River featuring the photography of Carole Smith Berney and the music of Anne Marie David (Birch Pennings). This was part of a Newton Conservators lecture by Carole Smith Berney at the Newton Free Library in Fall 2004.

 

   
 
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