Newton Conservators Nature Notes - November 14, 2003
This email newsletter provides information on upcoming
nature and environmental related events, exhibits, and information in
and around the Newton, Massachusetts area and is sponsored by the Newton
Conservators, the local open space organization in Newton. Please visit
our website at
Here's an outline of the contents of this issue:
* Newton Conservators Fall Lecture 2003 - November
17, 2003, 7 pm
* * Annual Fall Cleanup of Hemlock Gorge Reservation November 15, 2003
* * Grassroots Climate Action Conference - Sunday, November 16, 9-5
* * Annual Meeting of the Charles River Watershed Association November 19, 2003
* * Hall's Pond Community Work Party - Sunday,
November 23rd, 11 am
* * Annual Christmas Bird Count Sunday, December 14, 2003
* * Pooch Newton - NewtonDogs Meeting November
* Eco Alert (12/5/03) - When Their Peril Becomes Ours
* Attack of the Giant Towns: Solving the Very Real
Problem of Sprawl
* About Newton Conservators Nature Notes
* Newton Conservators Fall Lecture 2003 - November 17, 2003, 7 pm
Land Protection: Now or Never
Across the Commonwealth, unprecedented rates of development are resulting in accelerated habitat loss and fragmentation. In much of the state, the "window of opportunity" to make a meaningful difference in the conserved landscape is only 10 -15 years. In order to meet this challenge and effectively advance its mission of Protecting the Nature of Massachusetts, Mass Audubon has recently completed a new Land Protection Strategy to guide its future land protection efforts. The foundation of this plan is a new Geographic Information System data layer that will allow Mass Audubon to be focused, selective and proactive in its land protection work.
Bob Wilber, the Director of Land Protection for Mass Audubon (will present a lecture at 7 pm on Monday evening, November 17 at the Druker Auditorium of the Newton Free Library (330 Homer Street). Come learn more about how Mass Audubon , the largest conservation organization in New England, is working to Protect the Nature of Massachusetts and how you can help. Bob began his career in 1983 with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management's Land Acquisition & Protection Program, where he worked until 1996, serving as director for the last seven years with that state agency. He served for three years in a similar capacity with the Massachusetts Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, prior to joining the Audubon staff in July of 2000. Bob is a lifelong Massachusetts resident, and resides in Stow with his family, where he is a current member of the town's Conservation Trust and Open Space and Community Preservation Committees. During his 20 year career in land conservation, Bob has been directly involved in the permanent protection of more that 25,000 acres in Massachusetts.
This free lecture is co-sponsored by the Newton
Free Library, http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net/, 617-796-1360) and
the Newton Conservators, Newton's own organization that promotes the
* Losing Ground: At What Cost?
Source: Massachusetts Audubon Society
Low density, large lot residential development continues to consume forest and agricultural land in ecologically sensitive areas, according to a new Mass Audubon report, Losing Ground: At What Cost?, the latest edition in its Losing Ground series. The report is based on research into changes in land use and their impact on habitat, biodiversity, and ecosystem services in Massachusetts.
While the state has seen little or no growth in single-family housing starts, residential development represents a growing proportion of land consumption. The average living area for new homes increased 44 percent between 1970 and 2002, while average lot sizes increased 47 percent in the same period. Average lot sizes more than doubled in Plymouth, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, and Hampshire counties. Particularly inefficient land consumption involving a large number of acres per new housing unit or new permanent resident could be seen in a "sprawl frontier" running through Worcester County and north of the Cape Cod Canal.
"The type of development we are seeing is bad for wildlife habitat and bad for people who want affordable housing," says Laura Johnson, president of Mass Audubon. "Much of this development is concentrated in areas with rare species habitat or globally significant natural communities. It is proof that we cant simply put land protection on the back burner while we wait for an economic recovery."
Visible development as reflected in land use data tells only part of the story, however. When parcel boundaries are considered, the true impact of developmentincluding road building and fragmentationis closer to 78 acres per day.
The report also measures the economic impact of habitat loss, and includes the first statewide attempt to measure the economic value of "ecosystem services" provided by undeveloped landsuch as climate control, water filtration, and flood control. It also calls upon citizens in the Commonwealth to work with their state and local representatives to address the problems of sprawl and habitat loss.
Specific findings of the report, which drew upon thirty years of land use and open space data and tax assessor records, include the following.
* Over 202,000 acres, or 40 acres per day, were
"This edition of Losing Ground confirms that there is a closing window of opportunity to protect our most vulnerable wildlife habitat from the effects of poorly planned development," says Jack Clarke, director of advocacy at Mass Audubon. "This is the time for the governor, legislature, and environmental community to work together on smart growth and land protection for this and future generations."
You are invited to check out the newly redesigned Newton Conservators website . Thanks to the hard work of member Dan Brody, the website has a whole new look and organization. The content had been previously spread across two separate servers. Now it contains many new features including much easier access to current and archived news and newsletters, photos, maps, walk and lecture schedules, grants program, membership and publication information.
* New Trail Guide: Walking Trails in Newtons Park and Conservation Lands
Walking Trails in Newtons Park and Conservation Lands, a handy trail guide to the conservation and open space recreation opportunities in Newton is now available. This book is a 56-page guide containing detailed trail maps of 27 conservation areas in Newton, featuring parks, ponds, gardens, trails, canoe launches, nature guides, rock climbing, scenic views, handicapped access, geological features, and bird watching areas. The guide also contains photos, driving directions, interesting historical details, and an overall map of showing the locations of the 27 natural areas. This outstanding new publication replaces our previous paper map guides and was put together with the tremendous effort of Judy Hepburn, Pat Robinson, and Lucy Caldwell-Stair. It is priced at $7.95 (free with membership) and is available directly from the Newton Conservators and at New England Mobile Book Fair. It fits nicely in your back pocket and will be a terrific companion to introducing you to places in Newton you never knew existed. It would make a great holiday gift for your Newton friends and neighbors. Copies will be available at the Fall Lecture at the Newton Free Library on Monday, Nov. 17.
Below are some additional events that may be of interest to our readers.
* Annual Fall Cleanup of Hemlock Gorge Reservation November 15, 2003
The annual Fall Cleanup of Hemlock Gorge Reservation will take place on Saturday, November 15. Volunteers should meet at Hamilton Place at 10 a.m. Lunch will be provided. Please visit the Friends of Hemlock Gorge website for further information.
* Grassroots Climate Action Conference - Sunday, November 16, 9-5
There is still time to register for this annual
conference at the Tufts University Cabot Center. The conference will
feature keynote speakers and 18 workshops on ways that local communities
can counteract the impacts of global climate change. Fee is $40 and
includes breakfast and lunch. Full Program & Registration, <http://www.massclimateaction.org/>
Map & Directions: <http://www.tufts.edu/source/maps/medford>
Doug Foy, former president of the Conservation Law Foundation and current Chief of Commonwealth Development, will be the featured speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Charles River Watershed Association on Nov. 19. The meeting, held at the Marriott Hotel in Newton, will celebrate the organization's achievements this year. Foy's talk will draw on the experiences he has had as the liaison between the Governor and the departments of housing, transportation and environmental affairs. In addition to Foy's lecture, CRWA's Annual Meeting will include cocktails, a buffet, awards, and a brief business meeting. The dinner is $40 per person and reservations must be made by Nov. 14. Call 781-788-007 ext. 231 for reservations and invitations.
NewtonDogs, a new local organization for Newton
dog owners has been formed. An organizational meeting will take place
on Wednesday November
* Hall's Pond Community Work Party - Sunday, November 23rd, 11 am - 2 pm
Come join other volunteers for the 27th annual fall work day to help spruce up Hall's Pond and Amory Woods Sanctuary. Volunteers should bring gloves, a rake, or hand clippers, if they have them. Refreshments provided by the Friends of Hall's Pond. Meet at the Hall's Pond Nature Sanctuary, near the Amory Park tennis courts, off of Amory Street, Brookline. Sponsored by the Friends of Hall's Pond and the Brookline Conservation Commission. For further information call Brookline Conservation Commission, 617-730-2088 or check out the website of the Brookline Green Space Alliance http://www.bgsa.net/
If you have an interest in our feathered friends,
perhaps you'd like to take part in the annual Christmas Bird Count on
Sunday, December 14. Begun in 1900 and done all over the country by
teams of birders, the local counts are done within a specified circular
area. Parts of Newton are within the count circle centered on Boston.
Any birds seen during the count are recorded as to the species and the number of individuals. The amount of hours and distance traveled by count participants are also recorded (which helps to normalize results to the effort expended). Changes in numbers of our most common birds over the years help to spot environmental trends. Over the history of the count in Newton, over 90 species have been tabulated.
Representative members from the teams gather back at the meeting place around 4 pm to pool the results from Newton. It's always exciting to hear what the other groups have found, especially any rare or unusual sightings. Later, our local results are taken over to Mass Audubon's Habitat in Belmont where other town coordinators gather to pool the data for the entire Boston count circle. Consider that this same process is done all over the country in roughly the same time period, and it helps to get a handle on the bigger environmental picture.
Experienced and non-experienced birders are welcome. Newcomers will be paired with an experienced group. Even if you would like to participate for only a few hours, you are welcome.
* Wild West Newton
Lucille Riddle, the Animal Control Officer for Newton, has asked residents to be on the lookout for a sick coyote which has recently been sighted around the Waltham Street and Cherry Street areas in West Newton. The animal does not appear to be aggressive toward humans and is not believed to be rabid. It appears a bit mangy and will tend to run away. Coyotes look a little like a small skinny German Shepherd with a bottle brush tail. The last sighting was on Wednesday at Cherry Place off Cherry Street. Residents are advised to keep small dogs and cats in especially at night. If you spot this particular animal, please contact Animal Control at 617-796-2109.
Bonnie Carter, Conservators board member passed
this interesting link on a California hummingbird nest. Adults and children
may find this very interesting. A woman found a humming bird nest and
got pictures all the way from the egg to leaving the nest. Took 24 days
from birth to flight. Check out this humming link: <http://community-2.webtv.net/hotmail.com/verle33/HummingBirdNest/>
Species of animals and plants have come and gone since life began. Extinctions have occurred at a fairly steady rate throughout geological time, and they inform us that extinction is a continuous phenomenon and as natural as speciation itself. Over recent years, however, the impact of human activities - destruction of habitat, industrialization, use of chemicals in the environment - has speeded the process of extinction for both plants and animals, contributing to a sharp and rapid loss of biological diversity. The number of species in peril and disappearing from Earth is continuing unchecked.
The U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973 defines extinction to mean that no members of a species survive in an area in question, or anywhere in the world. Latest statistics (11/3/2003) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list as threatened and endangered in the United States alone a total of 516 species of animals and 744 species of plants, with an additional 31 species (27 animals, 4 plants) proposed for listing. Federal law, under the Endangered Species Act, establishes broad protection for all endangered species, most of which are not native to America, and effectively prohibits trade in them.
The Bush Administration, building on its record of enshrining policies favorable to friends in high corporate places, has recently proposed a most far-reaching change to conservation policies. The proposal, perhaps the most egregious in the Administration¹s environmental strategy to date, would allow hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and import animals on the brink of extinction in other countries. The rationale is as follows: If Americans are given access to endangered animals in foreign lands - feeding the U.S. demand for live animals, trophies, skins, and animal parts - the profits provided to poor nations would enable the conservation of remaining species in their native habitats. Wildlife exploitation would become a tenet for conservation policy; killing or capturing endangered animals would provide for their future in the wild, or so the logic goes.
Why does it matter? What, some would ask, is the
importance of species
The Eco-Alert comes from American P.I.E., Public Information on the Environment, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, P.O. Box 676, Northfield, MN 55057-0676, Telephone: 1-800-320-APIE(2743); fax 507-645-5724, E-mail: . EcoAlert subscribe/unsubscribe at our website:
* Attack of the Giant Towns: Solving the Very Real Problem of Sprawl with REAL Planning
Here is something from the recent email news provided by the Charles River Watershed Association. (http://www.crwa.org <http://www.crwa.org/> )
Land and water work together. It is in our interest to identify how and where land and water interactions are critical to environmental sustainability, wildlife habitat, and surface water flow. We ignore these links at our peril. Recognizing this, CRWA, over a period of six years, has developed a land analysis methodology, we call Resource, Environmental, and Land (REAL) Planning, which has been referred to in its first iterations locally as "environmental zoning." REAL Planning identifies those land areas where development of any kind should simply be avoided. An in-depth explanation of the REAL Planning method is now on the CRWA website, as well as maps and results from a case study conducted in the town of Littleton, MA. Sprawl is a real threat to our communities, our watershed and our environment. Take a moment to educate yourself about this important project: http://www.crwa.org/projects/EZ/ez.html
* In Recognition of Nick Yannoni, Former Newton Conservators President
We note with sadness the passing of Dr. Nicholas Yannoni on November 3rd. Nick was a member of the Newton Conservators board from 1984 to 2000, serving as president in 1986-88 and as treasurer in1997-98. He was a graduate of Boston Latin, Boston University: BS (1954), PhD. in Chemistry (1961), and Boston College: MBA (1980). His career at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories (Hanscom Field, Bedford MA) spanned 30 years encompassing research relating to crystallography, energy conversion, optical techniques and precision timing devices. An ardent outdoor enthusiast with the Pelagic and Community Sailing Clubs (Boston, MA) and the White Mules Ski Club (NH), and committed volunteer with the Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and the MA Water Resource Authority in addition to his work with the Newton Conservators. In particular he used to lead walks on our aqueduct trails and wrote about the aqueducts. Contributions can be made in Nicks name to The Society for PSP, Woodholme Medical Building, Suite 515, 1838 Greene Tree Road, Baltimore, MD 21208
* About the Newton Conservators
This email newsletter is sponsored by the Newton
Conservators, a local organization that promotes the protection and
preservation of natural areas, including parks, park lands, playgrounds,
forests and streams, which are open or may be converted to open spaces
for the enjoyment and benefit of the people of the City of Newton, Massachusetts
for scientific study, education, and recreation. It further aims to
disseminate information about these and other environmental matters.
A primary goal is to foster the acquisition of land and other facilities
to be used for the encouragement of scientific, recreational, educational,
literary, and the other public pursuits that will promote good citizenship
and the general welfare in the City of Newton. Please visit our website
If you would like to join the Newton Conservators, please send your name, address, phone and email address (if you wish email alerts) to The Newton Conservators, P.O. Box 590011, Newton Centre, MA 02459. Membership Options are the following: Individual $25, Family Member $35, Sustaining Member $50, Donor $75, Patron $100. Membership is tax deductible. Your membership includes the Newton Conservators Newsletter and emails and invitations to participate in guided tours of local conservation areas, lectures, and other programs and activities. You will also receive by mail a copy of the new Newton Conservators open space map book, "Walking Trails in Newton's Park and Conservation Lands".
The Board of Directors of the Newton Conservators meets monthly usually on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7:30 pm (usually at City Hall). Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, the next meeting will be on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at City Hall. Members are welcome to attend
* About Newton Conservators Nature Notes
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