President’s 2017 Annual Report

Beth Wilkinson

Welcome to the Annual Meeting! It’s nice to see those who have been open space activists with the Newton Conservators for a long time, new members, students and teachers who care strongly for the environment. We are an amazing team!

Thanks to all the members who have worked to accomplish the so much since the last time we gathered!


Conservators’ volunteers – aided by the Newton Forestry Department – moved into the second year of our plan to remove invasive plants and trees from Woodcock Meadow. The center of the meadow now is completely open, and the woodcocks returned for a second year at the end of February. Clearly, they approve of our work.


Much of Cold Spring Park is covered with invasive plants. One estimate is 80%. Of particular concern are the dense stands of highly invasive Tree of Heaven in what used to be open meadows and the understory of invasive buckthorn shrubs that have crowded out the seedlings that should succeed the beautiful Red Maples, which may form the oldest forest in the city.

This spring, we presented an invasives-removal and education plan, which was approved by the Parks and Recreation Department and the Integrated Pest Management Committee. Watch for the demo areas later this year!


The Conservators continued to work with the Friends of Webster Woods to support the City in its efforts to work with new owner Boston College to preserve the wooded area of the property. After the entire City Council voted that the city should try to preserve Webster Woods, the Conservation Department hired an appraiser to assess the value of the woods in preparation for negotiations with BC. However, early this year, the appraiser’s contract was terminated for professional reasons. The Trust for Public Lands has offered to negotiate with Boston College on behalf of the city. We hope to hear more soon. Please continue to let your City Councilors and Mayor Warren know how much you value Newton’s largest forest!

Over the summer, the board of the Conservators voted to support the Friends of Herrick Green in their efforts to preserve that historic green at Andover Newton Theological School. Since then, an unknown new buyer has purchased the school. We hope to hear more about that land soon, too.

We joined members of the Conservation Commission and neighbors of Hammond Pond to protest two buildings scheduled to be built on the edge of the pond as part of an expansion by The Street. We were extremely pleased when the owners removed those buildings from the project.


In September of 2012, Andrée and Richard Wilson signed a conservation restriction to protect 1.5 acres of their beautiful, almost-2-acre Newton Centre property for conservation purposes in perpetuity. One provision of the conservation restriction is that the public will have access to a 5-foot wide corridor across the property. That was an important proviso for Andrée, who died this past October. In the summer before Andrées death, Conservators board members conferred with her about where to locate a new path after the old site became eroded. We are waiting for the paperwork for that new location to be finalized. Since Andrée’s death, her son Andre, who is here tonight, has worked with the Conservators to remove invasive plants from the area around the new path.


Our invasives team will continue to work across the city throughout the summer. Please join them if you can. (The schedule is available online and in the spring newsletter).


The Conservators’ walks have always been one of the most popular things we offer. Because they are led by experts, they provide education as well as wonderful strolls in Newton’s open space. As the list of walks has continued to grow and to become more diverse, they’ve grown even more popular. We’d love to hear your ideas for new walks, and we’d be even happier if you offer to lead one-or to take over the whole task or organizing them twice a year.


As much as we delight in all that members have done this year, we have to keep our eyes turned to the future – to the work yet to be done. There is much work waiting for us in the year ahead.

If you would like to work on one of those projects – or have ideas of your own, please talk with a member of the Conservators’ board.

I’ll end with a final thanks to all the members! The board really appreciates your help in accomplishing valuable projects in the past year!

More from the 2017 Annual Meeting