Opportunities to get involved and make a difference with Friends of the Fells

A Message from Your Executive Director:
Opportunities to get involved and make a difference with Friends of the Fells

Greetings, and Happy New Year!

In the first four months acting as your Executive Director, I’ve been impressed by the vibrant community of dedicated volunteers who generously give their time to care for our Fells forest. Why not consider joining other like-minded people who share your love for the forest and volunteer with the Friends in 2020?

Opportunities abound for involvement. If you’re an avid hiker in the Fells, you might consider becoming a Trail Adopter to help us maintain over 100 miles of trails in the Fells. If you enjoy young children and are enthusiastic sharing nature with them, you might consider learning more about our Babes in the Woods program (which brings young families on hikes just about every Tuesday morning of the year), and joining the volunteer team leading these hikes.

If you have a passion for improving habitat and saving trees from invasive plants (think Oriental Bittersweet), consider visiting our Stewardship Committee and learning more about our plans for on-the-ground efforts this coming spring. Or, if you like digging into local politics or tracking environmental legislation at the statehouse, you might be a good fit for our new Advocacy Committee, tasked with cultivating relationships with decision makers, advancing the Friends’ policy positions, and sniffing out and combating external threats to the Fells (e.g. our recent work to protect the 90mm site).

We’re also developing a new Conservation & Science Committee. Initial focus areas will include ecology, citizen-science research, biodiversity, and the effects of climate change on the Fells.

Finally, we’re also on the lookout for volunteers to help fulfill some unique “skill” volunteer positions in many additional areas, including finance, fundraising, social media, and more.

A list of upcoming committee meetings is provided below. Please consider attending an upcoming meeting to learn more about how volunteering for the Friends can be put into your action plan for 2020.

 January Board Meeting:  Tuesday, January 14th, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

(**Board meetings are schedule for the second Tuesday of every month)

Stewardship Committee:  Wednesday, January 15, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Advocacy Committee:  Wednesday, January 22nd, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Conservation & Science Committee:  Thursday, February 6th, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

(This meeting is a conference call.  Please contact us to find out how to participate.)

Development Committee:  TBD; last week of January

NOTE: All Friends of the Fells committee and board meetings are held at the Beebe Estate unless otherwise noted, located at 235 West Foster Street in Melrose.

For more information on volunteering, contact us at friends@fells.org!

Stay warm out there,

Chris Redfern

In a terse Advisory Opinion issued December 30, 2013, the Director of the MEPA Office has endorsed the current claim by the developers of the Langwood Commons project that their redevelopment project inside the Middlesex Fells Reservation is no longer subject to MEPA jurisdiction for environmental impact review.

The developers filed their request to end environmental review after the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) terminated the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that the developers had been required to sign in 2009 by DCR and the Secretary of Environmental Affairs when the developers claimed then that their project was not subject to MEPA jurisdiction.

The MOU agreement obligated the developers to pay $1.8 million to DCR to modify Fells parkways because of safety and other impacts from the additional 4,500 traffic trips to be created by the project. At that time, DCR and the Secretary declared that the redevelopment project could not proceed without completing MEPA review unless the developers agreed to mitigate development traffic impacts.

The termination of the MOU by DCR and this new Advisory Opinion from the Secretary represent a complete reversal and abandonment of their long held regulatory positions, which cited requirements to address unacceptable public safety risks due to traffic increases from the proposed project.

The termination of the MOU and issuance of this Advisory Opinion are only the latest twists in the dealings among the developers, DCR and the Secretary that are being challenged as a violation of MEPA’s prohibition against project “segmentation” in a Superior Court lawsuit that the Friends of the Fells, ten citizens, and the City of Medford filed in 2009.

The case is scheduled to be heard by Superior Court later this year.