Caring for the Middlesex Fells has never been more urgent.
If you’ve visited the Fells recently, you know that our beloved “people’s forest” has become a refuge for many in our community. The value of a healthy, intact forest so close to home has never been more apparent as people turn to the Fells to exercise, relieve stress, seek solace, and bask in the beauty of nature.
As the Fells welcomes a record number of visitors, we’re working hard to protect this biodiverse forest and provide a safe and enjoyable experience for the people who rely on it.
We’ve been adapting our work to address challenges to our mission.
- With the Fells overwhelmed by new visitors, there has been a noticeable increase in trash. In response, we hosted a “Keep the Fells Clean” poster contest and distributed posters at more than a dozen Fells trailheads.
- With our usual in-person programming on hold, we created a new YouTube channel to offer different perspectives on biodiversity in the Fells, with more videos on geology and history to be posted soon.
- We created a “My Fells Community Expression” project to encourage you to express how you experience the Fells, and presented a webinar promoting native plants to support local wildlife and protect habitats.
We’re providing much needed time in nature for children this summer.
The pandemic had threatened to close our popular Fells Forest Camp. Our staff worked non-stop to adapt our operations to provide camp in a safe and responsible manner. We’re looking forward to providing hundreds of children with the many benefits of time spent in nature, and parents with a much-needed break, over the next two months.
We’re stepping up to meet the needs of the forest.
We are heartened by the outpouring of interest in volunteering to help care for the Fells.
Here are a few ways we’re planning to engage Fells Friends in the coming months:
- To make it easier to join our Trail Adopters program, a training video will demonstrate to prospective volunteers how easy and satisfying it can be to join our crew and help us care for the more than 100 miles of trails in the Fells.
- In partnership with Earthwise Aware, we’ll provide opportunities for community members to join citizen science efforts.
- When given the go-ahead from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), we’ll coordinate group volunteer work events to reduce litter, repair vandalism, and fight invasive plants in the Fells.
We can’t advance our work without your support – so please make a gift today.
Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation
Forever the People’s Forest Park
In 1894, Medford’s George Davenport greeted the Fells becoming “a great natural park” with these words:
“For here we have a succession of well clad rocky hills, rising and falling like the billows of a great sea, within whose hollow troughs lie hidden pleasant vales, ponds, cascades, ferny brooks, sylvan retreats, wild swamps and fragrant groves.”
Elizur Wright’s experience of this wild rugged landscape inspired him to agitate in newspaper articles, pamphlets and speeches for the Fells to become “devoted to forest culture and preservation, science, education and rational recreation,” meanwhile forging alliances with others who shared this vision.
In 1892, journalist and city planner Sylvester Baxter and landscape architect Charles Eliot were appointed by the Metropolitan Park Commission to begin laying out the boundaries for the Commonwealth’s new park system. Eliot wrote these famous words:
“The life history of humanity has proved nothing more clearly than that crowded populations, if they would live in health and happiness, must have space for air, for light, for exercise, for rest, and for the enjoyment of that peaceful beauty of nature…”
Today the Fells endures as a destination where visitors can relish the peace and beauty of nature in the midst of exceptional protected landscape. In 2018 Harvard Magazine featured the Middlesex Fells Reservation in its Explorations & Curiosities section.
Special features at the Fells include Bellevue Pond, Wright’s Tower, Lawrence Woods, Spot Pond, and over 100 miles of trails. Virginia Wood, the site of a vanished mill village called “Haywardville”, features a self-guided interpretive history trail. Lawrence Woods is an area of the Fells south of South Border Road with many wide “fire roads”, views and vernal pools. The Long Pond parking area offers access from Winchester to a nature trail and scenic areas. The Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Fells headquarters is located on the shore of Spot Pond at 4 Woodland Road, Stoneham, and houses the Middlesex Fells Visitor Center.
The Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation is dedicated to the protection and harmonious use of the Fells, promoting awareness, policies and programs which honor and preserve the landscape and heritage of this public resource for current and future generations.
1. Instill awareness and appreciation of the Fells as a valuable natural and historical resource which will foster a sense of stewardship within the larger community.
2. Develop programs for recreation, enjoyment, and study of the Fells which are harmonious with landscape and habitat.
3. In cooperation with others, develop and advocate for policies designed to preserve and protect the Fells Reservation.
The Fells is the People’s forest park, and the Friends of the Fells strives to make sure there are programs and opportunities that will fit with the way anyone wants to enjoy what the Fells has to offer. Information about our diverse array of programs and events can be found throughout the pages of this site. Some of our most popular programming includes:
How Do I Join The Friends?
We are thrilled that you want to know more about joining the Friends of the Fells. Membership in the Friends comes with some great benefits to you, and helps to support our activities and programs for everyone. To join, simply visit our Membership Information page and choose the membership option that’s right for you. You can pay your dues online with a credit card, and your membership packet will be headed your way in no time!
How Can I Volunteer My Time?
We are always on the lookout for those like ourselves who want to give their time and energy to the important cause of preserving our natural landscape for future generations. Whether you want to volunteer one-time or on an on-going basis, and whether you want to get your hands dirty or do your part from indoors, we have a volunteer opportunity waiting for you. Just head over to our Volunteer Opportunities page to find out more.
How Can I Make A Donation?
The Friends of the Fells could not exist with the generous support of our donors. There are many ways to make a contribution, and if you want to help us, we want to help you find the right one. One our Donate page, you can contribute online using your credit card. You will also find information about including the Friends in your will, contributing to our endowment fund, and other ways your support can help.
Can I Write Off My Donation On My Taxes?
The Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which means that your donation to the Friends is tax-deductible. If you want to make your contribution go even further, make sure to check with your employer’s Human Resources Department to see if they will match your gift! Our EIN is 22-3278797.