Three decades of supporting the Fells

Learn more about the Friends of Fells milestones

In 1993, a group of dedicated volunteers came together to establish the Friends of the Fells (FOF) as a nonprofit. Thirty years later, we continue to protect the Fells through conservation work, guided hikes, and educational programs. Let’s take a look at our key accomplishments and growth over the past three decades:

The FOF office in the garage the Botume House.


  • FOF opened its first office at the garage by the Botume House in 1994 and later relocated to the Beebe Estate in Melrose.
  • In 1999, FOF started its Babes in the Woods program, a group created with new parents in mind. For more information, read this article here.
  • Also in 1999, FOF cultivated its strength as an environmental organization and focused heavily on activism. It successfully opposed the building of a frisbee golf course in the Fells and later defeated the building of a sports complex planned near Greenwood Park.
The Tudor Barn. Photo by Mike Ryan.


  • From 2001 to 2016, FOF advocated to reduce the size of development at the former hospital site on Woodland Road.
  • FOF was instrumental in siting a new MWRA-covered storage on the former hospital site, preserving woodland in the Fells.
  • In 2005, FOF created a coalition to maintain DCR historic parkways in their rustic state.
  • FOF employed its first part-time director in 2005, and by 2023 had expanded staff to include a full-time director, two full-time staff, one part-time staff, and an AmeriCorps member.
  • FOF led successful campaigns to rebuild Tudor Barn (2006) and re-dedicate Wright’s Tower (2008) after securing state funding.
  • In 2009, FOF co-sponsored and published a significant mammal tracking survey of the Fells.
Trail Adopters attend a group work day.


  • In 2011, FOF members and others published a major survey of plants in the Fells, documenting the exceptional biodiversity found there. That same year, FOF mobilized hundreds of citizens to write to DCR to prioritize nature in a new Resource Management Plan, but the plan was not fully carried out.
  • In 2012, FOF re-launched a volunteer Trail Adopter program.
  • In 2016, FOF was awarded a $100,000 Cummings Foundation grant to expand youth programs in the Fells, which helped launch Fells Forest Camp.
  • In 2018, FOF worked with local politicians to prevent the construction of an indoor hockey rink in Lawrence Woods, collecting 7,000 signatures for the effort via an online petition.
  • In 2019, FOF launched a YouTube channel and produced video shorts highlighting people’s connection with the Fells and seasonal nature happenings.
  • In 2020, FOF began a participatory science partnership with Earthwise Aware.


  • In 2021, FOF convened the Fells Caucus, a group of elected officials who represent communities adjacent to the Fells and meet regularly to stay up to date on Fells issues and support the forest.
  • That same year, FOF launched a multi-year Sustainable Fells Campaign that addresses invasive plants, rogue trails, and visitor behavior.
  • In 2022, FOF completed an Action Plan and restructured its staff team to align with plan goals, adding a Community Engagement and Operations staff member and a Camp and Youth Development Director.
  • In 2023, FOF partnered with DCR and Friends of the Blue Hills to launch the Be Kind! Campaign to encourage a culture of care and stewardship in the Fells.

As FOF continues to grow and develop as a professional conservation nonprofit, we plan to expand the removal of invasive species, close rogue trails that disrupt wildlife habitat, develop after-school educational programming, expand our Fells Forest Camp offerings, and monitor the plans for additional construction at the former hospital site.

As we look toward increasing our capacity to better protect and ensure the sustainable enjoyment of the Fells, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can best accomplish this work. Reach out at and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on all things Fells.