Launching our My Middlesex Fells Video Series

Friends of the Fells launches new “My Middlesex Fells” video feature

Each of us has our own distinctive relationship to the Fells, and every experience we have visiting the Fells can be completely unique from the last.  This new video project from our intern Dexter Fadness attempts to capture some of the diversity of those experiences.  

The first video in the series features Friends of the Fells board Chair Jeff Buxbaum, who talks about his own realization of this diversity and the joy of getting lost in the Fells.

 

We want to hear about your unique relationship to the Fells!  If you’re interested in sharing your own personal experiences with our community, contact Dexter at dexterfadness@gmail.com.  We also welcome your own submissions to the My Fells project we launched last year, featuring your own artistic interpretations of the Fells.

With the summer’s return, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority asks all residents–  please don’t swim in the Fells:

With the warm weather approaching, people head to the local swimming hole to beat the heat. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority wants to remind residents that swimming is not allowed at the High Fells Reservoir in Stoneham.

MWRA’s primary concern is public safety. The Fells has many rock outcroppings and swimmers who are tired or hit their heads while diving are a long way from emergency medical help. The facility is not staffed and there are no lifeguards on duty. There have been fatalities at this site in the past and at nearby Spot Pond.

Protection of the public water supply is also critical. The Fells covered storage tank was constructed in 1998. This facility provides drinking water for Melrose, Saugus, Stoneham and Wakefield. However, the open reservoir, constructed in 1899, still serves as an important component of the MWRA’s emergency water supply system. In an emergency situation, the reservoir could be used as a drinking water supply in a very short time. Swimmers and dogs in the water pose a real threat to water quality.

MWRA recognizes that the Fells is a valued recreational resource in the area. MWRA has worked closely with local communities over the years to maintain a balanced use of this beautiful site that allows accessibility while protecting the public water supply. In fact, MWRA’s new Spot Pond Covered Storage Tank, behind the former Boston Regional Medical Center, features an upland meadow and walking trails.

Illegal swimming has resulted in vandalism, damage to fencing, trash left at the reservoir and fires. The Massachusetts State Police routinely patrol this critical facility during the summer, but MWRA also needs the help of local residents to ensure public safety and protect public health.

Please call the MWRA’s 24-hour Security Hotline at (877) 697-6972 to report swimming or any other harmful behavior.

Swimming is also prohibited in the High, Middle, and Low Reservoirs located in Winchester.

The Friends would also like to remind our community that swimming in the Fells can have detrimental impacts beyond personal safety and contamination of the drinking water supply:  many of the ponds and pools in the Fells contain sensitive ecosystems and aquatic species that can be harmed by human presence in their habitat!

For more information, contact Ria Convery, Ria.Convery@mwra.com

The Friends of the Fells are pleased to welcome our 2021 Video Production Interns Dexter Fadness and Paige Colley to our staff this summer.  Dexter and Paige both bring media production experience and a love of the outdoors to the positions, and we are very excited to work with them over the next few months!

Dexter Fadness

Dexter Fadness

“When I was younger, I spent countless hours wandering the Fells with my Great Dane, Thea. Living in Winchester, just minutes from the reservation, we were in there every day, and when she died we scattered her ashes along her favorite trail. It is that connection and intimacy that I bring as the Friends of Fells’ new video intern. As a recent graduate from Bard College with a degree in Film and Electronic Arts, I have cultivated knowledge of writing, directing, editing, and producing video content. Those skills, and my experience working with veteran filmmakers such as Kelly Reichardt and Charles Burnett, will be put into action developing the Friends of the Fells video presence and sharing what makes the Fells so special.”

 

Paige Colley

Paige during the 2019 Concord Cheese parade posing in front of a 1,000 pound wheel of cheese.

“Hi everyone! My name is Paige and I’m looking forward to working with Friends of the Fells this summer. I’m originally from Anchorage, Alaska, where I enjoyed all sorts of outdoor activities from hiking to kayaking to skiing. I did my undergrad at NYU studying physics, although I have an appreciation for all things science, from astronomy to biology. I recently finished my journalism MS at BU, and am looking forward to staying in Massachusetts for a while and getting to know the Fells better.”

 

The first project that the interns will focus on this summer is a “Community Highlight” series featuring personal narratives from individuals with a love for the Fells.  And for this video series, we need your participation:

What does the Fells mean to you? COVID mental health walks? Pet exercise? Fun with friends? A biological laboratory? Whatever your answer, we need YOU for a new video series. We are seeking on-camera participants who highlight the diversity of the Fells community, both in demographics (age, race, ethnicity, ability, sexual and gender orientation) and activity (biking, research, hiking, boating, restraining your dog from jumping in the reservoir). 😊 The Friends of the Fells welcomes everyone to this special natural resource.

We’re looking for an hour or two of your time to explore your Fells experience, filming content that will be edited into short videos.

If you would like to participate, or you know someone who would be perfect for this project, you can contact Dexter Fadness at 845-399-6662, or through email at dexterfadness@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing this project come together, and to all the new content that they produce this summer!

Making sure that DCR has adequate resources to carry out its conservation mission for the Fells is at the top of our list when it comes to our advocacy efforts. As we’ve alerted you to before, this Special Commission is investigating many aspects of DCR’s operations, and it’s important that this Commission hear from you.

Some of you spoke up at the Special Commission’s virtual meeting last week–thank you!  You can read a summary of this past meeting prepared by Mass Conservation Voters here.

Signing on to Massachusetts Conservation Voters’ petition is an easy way to speak for the Fells — the Friends of the Fells is in general agreement with MCV’s position. You can also send in your own comment by emailing ma-dcr-commission@donahue.umass.edu.

Please note that all comments must be submitted by Tuesday, June 8th, when the public comments period will close!

 

In the meantime, the Friends of the Fells Advocacy Committee is developing a detailed response that addresses specific issues of concern for the Fells — we’ll share that with you when it is complete.

 

Last month, in honor of both Earth Day 2021 and the return of group stewardship opportunities in the Fells, the Friends of the Fells hosted a series of volunteer-oriented events throughout the park.  Between Wednesday April 21st and Sunday April 26th individuals from 3 clubs and from across the community participated in one of six group events that were held in the Fells.

Volunteers joined in activities like trash cleanups, trail maintenance and repair, invasive plant clearing and meadow restoration, and solving some drainage and flooding issues by cleaning, repairing, and redirecting culverts and drainpipe outlets.

The Winchester HS Fells Club ready for work!

We would especially like to highlight the efforts of 3 organizations for their work this week:  Girl Scouts Junior Troop 62732 of Medford, the “Otters” of the BPSA 92nd Mystic Scout Troop (www.92mystic.org), and the Winchester High School Fells Club!

Below is a gallery of the great work accomplished during Earth Week 2021:

Thank you to all the volunteers that participated in this year’s Earth Week events!  Your efforts helped make this a successful week of stewardship for the Fells!

Missed out Earth Week volunteer opportunities?  Not to worry– we will be adding many more group volunteer events in 2021, so keep an eye on our Program and Events Calendar for updates.

The Friends of the Fells welcomes volunteers of all ages and experience levels!  Interested in volunteering, or have a service project to propose?  Fill out our volunteer questionnaire:

 

 

Interested in arranging a group service event in the Fells?  Contact Jesse at Jesse.Macdonald@fells.org.

 

Dear Friends,

The Friends of the Fells (FOF) is excited to announce a significant expansion of our conservation work with the establishment of the Sustainable Fells Campaign

The Campaign includes FOF-led conservation initiatives, partnership building through a new Fells Alliance, and enhanced engagement with state legislators with a new Fells Caucus. We look forward to inviting you to join us in these efforts as projects get underway in the coming months. 

This campaign is the result of two concurrent efforts.  

First, I spent hundreds of hours meeting with members, volunteers, partner organizations, and elected officials to ask them a simple question: How do we balance our enjoyment of the Fells with efforts to protect its natural resources? I also read your advice from our 4,000-supporter survey last fall. 

At the same time, Friends of the Fells volunteers got to wondering how well DCR has been carrying out the “conservation” element of its portfolio, versus the “recreation” element in the Fells. We discovered that DCR’s decimated budget hasn’t been able to accomplish much. But, we did find that as recreation opportunities have expanded in the Fells, the natural resources of the Fells have unfortunately not been taken care of very well.

As we considered the advice we received and recognized the lack of care of nature in the Fells, it became crystal clear that we urgently need to increase our capacity to meet the needs of the Fells — to protect its biodiversity, enhance the health of its natural resources, and promote sustainable enjoyment of the forest. 

The Sustainable Fells Campaign is our answer to that call.

Here’s a brief summary of the Campaign. A more detailed description of the Campaign can be found here

photo by Jeff Buxbaum

Sustainable Fells Campaign – At a Glance

Friends of the Fells has developed three multi-year Conservation Initiatives:

  • Our Reduce Rogue Trails for People and Wildlife initiative will identify illegal trails in sensitive habitat areas and develop and implement plans to close, and keep closed, these trails. 
  • Our Invasive Species Management initiative will identify priority habitat impacted by invasive plant species, develop management plans to control the invasive plant populations, and bring habitats back to health.
  • Our Social Messaging for a Sustainable Fells initiative seeks to reform a “culture of non-compliance” in the Fells with a new culture of care and community stewardship through an innovative communications strategy rooted in behavior change communication and marketing models. 

The Fells Alliance is a network of organizations that share a common understanding of the value the Fells brings to the region and commit to working together to protect, preserve, and enhance the Fells as an invaluable and irreplaceable biological and recreational asset. 

The Fells Caucus engages elected officials whose districts fall within the influence area of the Fells, briefs officials on current Fells issues, and explores opportunities for advancing Fells priorities through legislative action. 

If the Sustainable Fells Campaign is to be successful, we’ll need to expand our capacity on a number of fronts. 

As a grassroots organization, volunteers play an essential role in implementing our work. We’ll need more financial support from our members so we can build a stronger volunteer program to support our volunteers and cultivate volunteer leaders able to help guide these initiatives.  

And, we’ll also need to develop funding relationships with foundations, government agencies, and others to sustain these multi-year initiatives. This work is already underway.

We look forward to your continued input and support of our work. Together we will achieve a better future for the Fells, and in the years to come, we’ll enjoy a deeper sense of joy and satisfaction in our time in the Fells, knowing we have made it a better space for people and nature. 

 

Best,

Chris Redfern
Executive Director