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Current Nature Notes

Newton Conservators Nature Notes - October 2, 2004



* Welcome


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 their website at


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In this issue:



* Newton Conservators Fall Walk Series – 2004


* Report on Newton Conservators Fall 2004 Lecture


* Turning a leaf - EcoAlert from American P.I.E


* Grants


* Nature Notes


* Other Events and Programs


* Save the Farm


* NewTV debuts the “Environmental Program”


* About the Newton Conservators


* Walking Trails in Newton's Parks and Conservation Lands


* About Newton Conservators Nature Notes




Newton Conservators Fall Walk Series – 2004


Each Spring and Fall, the Newton Conservators organize a series of walks to

local open space areas. These walks are led by knowledgeable leaders and are

open to the public. They normally last for an hour or two. Sometimes events

are even for bicycle or canoe. These walks are a great way to get to know

open space areas in Newton. Below is the current walk schedule for the Fall

2004 Walk Series. If you have questions about a walk or are interested in

leading such a walk in an area that you know, please contact the walks

coordinator, Peter Kastner for more information. Find the

current walk schedule online at

<> When the weather is

questionable, check with the designated walk leader.


One person we ran into recently was using the Conservators trail guide in an

interesting manner. He had the admirable goal of visiting all 27 of the

areas detailed in the Trail Guide. It’s kind of like the folks who climb

all the 4000 foot peaks up in the White Mountains – only a lot easier and it

takes a lot less gas. To help you get started, check out the following

guided walks!


Sunday, October 3, 2 pm, 2 hrs


Cutler DCR (formerly MDC) Park, Millennium Park /Wells Avenue Charles River




Starting at Cutler Park, we will explore the park itself and after walking

into Boston over the railroad bridge, will enter Millennium Park and

complete the tour by way of the Helen Heyn Riverway. These

areas have been vastly improved over the past several years and now provide

a wide variety of trails, river landings and playing fields. Henry Finch

will be the group leader. This loop includes parts of Walks

23, 24, 25, and 26 in the Conservators Trail Guide. Meet at the Cutler Park

entrance 1/4 mile south of the Charles River, on Kendrick Street in Needham.

Kendrick and Nahanton Streets meet at the Charles River Bridge.



Sunday, October 10, 2 pm, 1 to 1.5 hrs


Albermarle / Charles River / Cheesecake Brook Link / Avery Woods



The Friends of Albemarle will lead a walk through the varied park,

playground, and conservation areas in the Albemarle / Cheesecake Brook

area. This organization is developing a comprehensive plan for this area and

will ask walkers for their ideas on how to plan for this area. The area has

a rich mix of active and passive spaces and the goal of the Friends of

Albemarle is to develop a balanced plan for this area. Meet at the Gath

Pool on Albemarle Road. For more information call Margaret Albright.



Sunday, October 17, 2 pm, 1 hr


Norumbega Park / Islington Road Oval / DCR (formerly MDC) Park



We will explore the trail system that goes through the remains of the old

Norumbega Park, a 13 Acre Park that was rescued from development when the

privately owned Norumbega Park closed. We will see a meadow, tall pines and

a hemlock grove that opens to a wonderful view of the Charles River as well

as the little know DCR park that is hidden behind the Marriott hotel. Meet

at the Norumbega Park entrance, near the remains of the sudden garden that

located at the Marriott-Norumbega boundary line on Commonwealth Avenue. Call

AnnaMarie Abernathy for more information. See Walk 1 in the

Conservators Trail Guide.



Sunday, October 24, 2 pm, 1.5 hrs


West Newton CPA Improvements Tour (Historic, Open Space, Housing, and




The walk will begin at the historic 1781 West Parish Burying Ground at River

and Cherry Streets in West Newton. Sheila Donahue of the Historic Burying

Grounds Committee will provide background on this site, which is undergoing

stone restoration and other improvements via CPA. It was recently placed on

the State of Massachusetts Register of Historic Sites. From the West Parish

Burying Ground, we will walk a short distance to the recently renovated

Dolan Pond Conservation Area's Auburndale Avenue entrance (Walk 4 in the

guide). In this hidden treasure of Newton, we will traverse the accessible

trails and boardwalk past vernal pools to the CPA acquired Forte' estate.

This project will result in a 10% open space addition, the preservation of

the 1925 homestead by the Newton Housing Authority, and the creation of two

additional Habitat for Humanity housing units. We will return to the

starting point via the Webster Park Historic District, containing many fine

examples of 1840 Cottage style houses, and across the West Newton Common

play field, which is to receive an irrigation system with CPA funds.

Contact Ted Kuklinski ( Park on Cherry

Street north of River Street.



* Report on Newton Conservators Fall 2004 Lecture


Our recent Fall Lecture at the Library was held on September 22 featuring

Watertown photographer and naturalist Carole Smith Berney in a presentation

titled Celebrating the Charles River. She gave those present a “virtual

walk” along the Charles River Upper Greenway Path in Newton and Watertown—a

slide presentation focusing on the surprising diversity of the urban

landscape. Ms. Berney’s colorful and entertaining slide show features images

of birds, waterfowl, cormorants, cottontail rabbits, great blue herons,

turtles, seasonal riverscapes and sunsets, and the people who walk, run,

skate, bike, fish and birdwatch along the path. She will discussed efforts

over the last decade to restore the river banks as viable habitat for

wildlife and to create a path that enables human enjoyment with minimal

impact on the flora and fauna there.


This was an outstanding and timely lecture. Carole has done most of her

photography in the section of the Charles above Watertown Square to about

Cheesecake Brook. She incorporated a some of MDC planner, Dan Driscoll's,

before and after shots but mostly it was a wonderful tour of flora and fauna

she photographed with much patience. Thanks to Beth Purcell of the Newton

Free Library for her help in arranging the lecture. It was our first

lecture utilizing the library’s new digital projector in combination with

traditional slides. The lecture was very timely in highlighting the

wonderful Charles River Pathway and MDC visionary Dan Driscoll, which was

featured so well in last Sunday’s Boston Globe West Section ( 9/26/04, Going

with the Flow, Key Planner Draws on Love of Nature).


If you missed attending, you may eventually get a chance to see the lecture

on NewTV. Duane Hillis and Frank Howard of the Conservators NewTV team

arrived early to do our first ever NewTV taping of a lecture with two

cameras and even a special mike setup to record audience members' questions.

This could be the basis for a special show on the lecture (ala Green Decade

lecture series) or as material in the new Wild Newton Environmental series.



Inspired by her many walks on the MDC Charles River Upper Greenway Path in

Watertown and Newton, Carole Smithe Berney has documented life along the

river in all seasons and weather over several years. Her “portraits” of

animals—great blue herons, snapping turtles, cottontail rabbits, wood

ducks—help to enhance the community’s appreciation of the biodiversity and

natural beauty found close to urban settings. She continues to exhibit her

work locally, and to present slideshows for diverse audiences: libraries,

community groups, assisted living facilities, senior centers, and public and

private schools from kindergarten through high school. She has notecards

and some framed prints based on her outstanding photographs. If you are

interested in having these or having her give a presentation, please contact

Carole at 91 Standish Rd, Watertown, MA 02472.



* Turning a leaf - EcoAlert from American P.I.E. ( 9/1/04)



Deep tree roots do a fine job of retrieving trace elements deep in the

subsoil; for deciduous trees, the roots then give these minerals to the

leaves for temporary storage. At season¹s end, leaves are returned to the

soil but not before enabling brilliant folliage which will soon spread

across much of the United States.


American PIE urges people to learn to appreciate leaves for their nutritive

qualities as well as for their aesthetic ones. Well over half of solid waste

is organic material suitable for composting, and ten percent is leaves and

lawn clippings from our gardens. During the autumn season, bags of leaves

are needlessly making their way to local landfills and incinerators,

representing one of the worst kinds of conspicuous waste.


As nature's colorful gifts fall to the ground, consider turning leaves into

a long-term investment for your property - and the health of the

environment. Leaves can be turned to mulch, a valuable asset for the home

landscape and gardens. Mulch helps control weeds, enables soil to hold onto

valuable nutrients, permits plant roots to penetrate deeper and conserves

moisture in soil by thwarting the effects of rain and snow. Using mulch also

protects soil from erosion and runoff caused by heavy rain.


In the winter, the combined effects of freezing, thawing and refreezing can

disturb the soil in a garden. This same process can damage plants and

shrubs. A layer of mulch over the soil acts as an insulator and reduces the

danger to plants from the freeze-thaw cycle. While decomposing, mulch

releases beneficial plant nutrients and improves the soil's composition.

Leaves - turned to mulch - accomplish this at no financial cost to



Turning leaves to mulch works best when they are ground up or permitted to

partially rot. Decayed leaves are called leaf mold. The chemical makeup of

leaf mold is the closest thing in nature to pure humus. Leaves, unless

chopped up, tend to decompose quite slowly. If collected annually, however,

a huge pile of leaves becomes a rich and continuing source of mulch for

distribution on gardens, shrubs and trees, even for top-dressing lawns.

Simply dig to the bottom of the leaf pile where decomposition has done its

job. Oak or beech leaves, if used exclusively, will make a slightly acidic

mulch, good for broad leaf evergreens and blueberries. If you choose not to

use leaves for mulch this fall, consider adding them to the compost heap.

Mixed with other ingredients, leaves will decompose more quickly and build

your inventory of compost.


This fall, turn a leaf to good use in your landscape.


Act today on this EcoAlert, and thank you for your environmental

responsibility. This material provided by American P.I.E., Public

Information on the Environment, P.O. Box 676, Northfield, MN 55057-0676,

Telephone: 1-800-320-APIE(2743); fax 507-645-5724, E-mail:

. EcoAlert subscribe/unsubscribe at their website:






* Grants



Applications for FY 2005 CPA (Community Preservation Act Funds are due on

October 15, 2004.



The Newton Conservators provides grants to Newton's schools,

educational institutions, groups, and institutions for the purpose of

fostering its mission <> . The

grants are generally modest in size; requests of between $250 and $750 may

receive priority, although smaller and larger grants will be given full

consideration. They can be made for a single event, a longer-term project,

or for multiple year funding. The upcoming deadline for grant applciations

is October 31. See details on this program at



The Massachusetts Environmental Trust has and Unrestricted General Grants

Program. Visit for more details. Their

deadline for applications is November 1. Detailed grant information can be

found at





* Nature Notes





Mosquitoes with the West Nile Virus have been detected recently near Cold

Spring Park in Newton, the Mass. Dept. of Public Health announced. As a

result, Health Commissioner David Naperstek is urging people to use extra

precautions to avoid insect bites, especially when outdoors in wetland

areas. See fro details. A

West Nile Virus Public Health Fact Sheet is available at



The white bird reported recently by Parks & Rec Commissioner Fran Towle and

Carol Stapleton near Commonwealth Ave and Exeter in Auburndale has

apparently been around since last March according to a neighborhood

resident. It may be an albino House Sparrow and is often seen with other

house sparrows on lawns and around shrubbery near that intersection. It is

certainly an interesting sight to behold.



Ian Reid, reported that last Saturday (about 9am), he saw a 1st-year

mourning warbler at Dolan Pond. It was just by the east side of the

boardwalk at Banana Pond, hopping around low in the bushes and on the




Cris Criscitiello reports that there were good numbers of sparrows last

weekend at Nahanton Park near the gardens with swamp, Lincoln's,song,

chipping, and savannah sparrows in evidence.



One phenomenon that I have noticed is never having seen a chipmunk on the

northern side of the city (say, north of the Mass Pike). They are commonly

seen on the south side. Can anyone contradict this observation?



Early last July, I was very surprised to find fireflies (most likely

Pennsylvania Fireflies – black and red) present at Dolan Pond Conservation

Area (near Banana Pond). Coming from Philadelphia where they were a common

phenomenon on any lawn (even in the city), it was surprising not to have

seen them in Newton. Are there any other places in Newton where they may

exist? Or do we use too much pesticide on our lawns here in Newton?



Do you have some interesting sightings or nature experiences that you would

like to share? Send them along for publication here.




* Other Events and Programs



Sunday, October 3rd, 2 pm – Lost Pond Nature Hike



Join local resident Marian Lazar and the Friends of Lost Pond to explore the

varied habitats, and social and natural history that make the Lost Pond

Sanctuary in Brookline so interesting. Meet at the Arlington Rd. entrance

(off of Heath St.) in South Brookline.





Monday, October 4, 7:30 pm, Ecological and Human Health:


Communicating the Importance of Greenspace to the Health of Your Community

with Betsy Stubblefield, ScM, Associate Director, Urban Ecology Institute –



The importance of greenspace to the health of the community is not a new

idea; community builders such as Frederick Law Olmsted manifested this idea

decades ago in his numerous city parks that are now central features in

cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. However,

public health researchers, environmentalists and community activists have

only recently begun to investigate the pathways through which urban

greenspaces directly and indirectly impact human health. In this

presentation we will explore the ways that greenspace impacts known

environmental health issues, and learn how to communicate new ideas on how

greenspace builds social cohesion and lowers overall morbidity and mortality

in a community. This event will take place in the Community Room of the

Public Safety Building, 350 Washington St. in Brookline Village, across from

the public library and is sponsored by Brookline GreenSpace Alliance.





Wild Weston, Wellesley, & Waltham Walks



There are groups in other neighboring towns that also sponsor walks and open

space related events. Among these are the Weston Trails and Forest

Association,, the Wellesley

Trails Committee, and the

Waltham Land Trust, Please

check out their websites for more info to help you get into the local






* Save the Farm


Angino Farm is the last remaining farm in Newton and the Newton Conservators

put forth a proposal before the CPA Committee to save it. The project has

been recommended by the CPA Committee and must go before aldermanic

committees and the full board for approval this fall. Ultimately it was

desired to save the property in its original farm usage. You can learn more

about this project at the Conservators website at or at the site of the new

Farm Group that has formed: The group has

been handing out information over the last several weeks at the Newton

Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays at Cold Spring Park. Check their website for

full information. An excerpt from their website is below:


“We are friends and community members who wish to preserve and work on

Newton's last standing Farm. The Angino family farm is being offered to a

group of concerned citizens who see the value of maintaining and working a

community farm located on Nahanton Street. The Angino estate has entered in

provisional agreement to work with the City of Newton, the Committee for

Community Preservation, and local residents to see that Newton's last farm

is preserved as protected productive open space.


Much like the Stearns Farm <> in Framingham,

MA, we envision a real working farm where community members can work

together in Community Supported Agriculture

<> to grow a self sustaining source

of delicious produce in an eco-friendly farm where school groups and the

community could participate in educational programs. We have been talking

about inviting the community to buy shares where each family could both work

on the farm and enjoy its harvest. We like to see a portion of this food

going to local shelters and food pantries.”


Many other local communities have such local farms many using the so called

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model of operation where community

members buy shares in the farm. One such nearby farm is the Stearns Farm in

Framingham at <>

. To learn more about CSA’s check out




* NewTV debuts the “Environmental Program”



The Green Decade Coalition ( and the Newton

Conservators are joining forces on the production of a new Environmental

Show on the NewTV Blue Channel. The Environmental Show will be broadcast

five times a week. Check your listings. The first show was presented by

the Green Decade Coalition, with host Beverly Droz, GDC President, and guest

David DelPorto. The program provides an overview of High Performance

Building Technology as it relates to the construction or renovation of

Newton North High School. In October, the Newton Conservators produced

show will highlight the topic of Community Supported Agriculture and the

Angino farm, the acquisition of which was recently recommended by the

Community Preservation Committee. The Conservators next show in December

will focus on Cold Spring Park. Both organizations are dedicated to

highlighting issues important to Newton residents. Learn more about our

parks and open spaces, even the secret ones, with the Newton Conservators,

and learn to think globally and act locally with the Green Decade Coalition.




We are looking for all kinds of talent - announcers, writers, producers,

camera people, editors, etc. to help with our shows. In each program, we

will be normally be highlighting a different one of our open spaces. To find out more about NewTV visit their website at They have a great selection of courses in all

aspects of video production and editing. The Conservators are especially

interested in folks who may have experience in video editing, in particular

with Final Cut Pro.




* 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 at <> or contact us at the

address below.


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 third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 pm (usually at City Hall). Members

are welcome to attend. If you wish to attend you can contact the

organization Secretary to confirm the date, time, location, and agenda.



* Walking Trails in Newton's Parks and Conservation Lands


The map guide put out by the Newton Conservators is a great resource for

those who would like to explore Newton’s open space. It is available by

web, mail and also at Newtonville Books and New England Mobile Book Fair.

Walking Trails in Newton's Parks and Conservation Lands may be purchased for

$7.95 online at or by mailing a check to The Newton Conservators, P.O. Box 590011,

Newton Center, MA 02459. Sales benefit The Newton Conservators, a nonprofit

citizen advocacy organization which actively promotes the acquisition,

creation, and preservation of natural open spaces for the people of Newton.

Since its formation in the late 1950's, The Newton Conservators has been

instrumental in safeguarding more than 200 acres of open space in Newton,

creating several major public parks, and enacting ground-breaking

environmental ordinances with respect to the protection and preservation of

trees, wetlands and clean air, and the conservation of energy.



* About Newton Conservators Nature Notes



If you would like to be more directly kept apprised of future nature related

events, walks, lectures, and exhibits, you are invited to join the Newton

Conservators sponsored "Newton Conservators Nature Notes" email list by

sending an email request to . Newton Conservators Nature Notes is automatically sent to

members of the Newton Conservators who provide their email addresses as one

of their membership benefits. Newton Conservators Nature Notes may be found

online at <> You are welcome to

submit any items for this sporadical newsletter via email to the same

address. Please feel free to forward our newsletter to others you feel

might be interested in the information contained herein.







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