Last year the Conservators, along with the Friends of Nahanton Park and the City of Newton Parks & Recreation Department, formed a joint committee and hired Massachusetts Audubon’s Ecological Extension Service (EES) to do a natural-resources inventory and management plan for Nahanton Park. We did this in part as a way to respond thoughtfully to Newton Community Farm’s proposal to expand their farming into the park. The report, just published last month, gives us a rich blueprint for understanding the needs of this beautiful fifty-five-acre parcel. We are very appreciative of the efforts of the Parks & Recreation Department, particularly the support of Commissioner DeRubeis and the work of Carol Schein, who led the committee. Now the real challenge is to make sure the recommendations are implemented.
Lots of activities go on at Nahanton Park, from community gardening to soccer, birding to dog walking, canoeing to children’s programs at the Nature Center. The goal of the study was to gain knowledge of how various activities affect the park. We wanted to know how to balance all the activities, as well as the proposed farming, and still to maintain a high-quality wildlife habitat and a pleasant overall park experience. Happily, the report tells us how, answering our questions and giving us expert guidance and recommendations about specifically what needs to be done.
These detailed and specific recommendations broadly involve (1) improving community gardening management and continuing to discuss farming at the Park along with wildlife habitat protection; (2) improving the Winchester Street entrance to improve the overall feel of the park; (3) maintaining and expanding wildlife habitat through removal of invasive species, pruning vegetation, investigating storm water discharge, and curtailing snow dumping; and (4) supporting passive recreation by renovating trails, continuing the canoe and kayak rental, managing dog walking and improving the overflow parking lot off Nahanton street.
There’s a lot of work to be done here. In the coming months, the committee will be recommending next steps to the Parks & Recreation Commission. We will need volunteer help and some financial support to clear invasive plants, to restore some habitat and to renovate the Winchester Street entrance and some trails. It is immensely gratifying and exciting that we are thinking about the park as a whole, not simply as a list of activities supported by different interested groups, and working to ensure its health. We hope you share this excitement and that we can count on your support!
Jane Sender, President
Natural Resources Inventory and Management Plan for Nahanton Park (October 2011)