President’s 2018 Annual Report

Remarks at the Annual Meeting

President Beth Wilkinson with Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller; photo by Henry Finch

It’s been another busy year for the Newton Conservators.

I’d like to thank the 20 members of the board who have led walks, written and edited newsletter articles, attended meetings, done advocacy to preserve open space, monitored properties— and so much more—and the esteemed members of the advisory board and all of the other members who have worked with them to make those projects a success.

We have three new board members this year–Peter Barrer, Ellen Gibson-Kennedy, and Nyssa Patten—and more than enough work to go around!

You can read about some of those projects in the president’s message in your program, which we hope you’ll take with you. (In the program, you’ll also list a list of sponsors who supported this event.)

You can read about our efforts to preserve Webster Woods and our collaboration with Bike Newton and the Solomon Foundation and the Conservation Commission to grow the trails along the Charles at Riverside.

Many of you have enjoyed the path at Bracebridge Road. Only last night, a family of four came bounding over to my yard to say that they’d just walked it for the first time and loved it.

The program had room for only our major projects . . . There is so much more . . .

We had three projects for Newton Serves Day—Dolan Pond, Blue Heron Bridge, and Cold Spring Park.

We participated in the Needham Street Area Vision Group with the dedicated members of the Planning Department, making the case for more open space—and more connections to already existing open space that is nearby—and for more trees and storm-water drainage along Needham Street.

We’ve been represented at meetings sponsored by the Parks and Rec. Department to review plans for re-doing Levingston Cove at Crystal Lake to mitigate the damage from erosion.

Soon, we will be represented on the Working Group for the Conservation Restriction on Nahanton Park—led by the Parks and Rec. Department.

Looking to the future, we’re creating a group of trained monitors for our conservation restrictions so that we can take on more of that work on our own.

It’s almost time to participate with the city’s Conservation Department under Jennifer Steel in the creation of a new Open Space Plan.

The board is excited that responsibilities of the Conservators continue to grow. But, as I said, there is more than enough work to go around.

The Board is committed and strong, but we’d love more help, too.

Those of you at this event form our core. We hope that you will help us to reach out to the community. Please share your newsletter, talk about what we’re doing.

We are looking for people to help with specific projects. We are recruiting a coordinator for our popular walks. We need a membership coordinator. We’re beginning a revision of the beloved Trail Guide, and we need a project manager to see it through production. If you know someone willing to take on one of these projects, please let a board member know.

With everyone’s help, we’ll have even more to report next year!

Thank you.

Now, it’s time to present our awards for 2018 . . .


President’s Message in Annual Meeting Program

Welcome to the 2018 Annual Meeting! This is a time to celebrate what we’ve done since the last annual meeting and to find inspiration for the year ahead.

We’ve welcomed three new Directors to the board in the past year, continued work on many important projects, and started several new efforts. Thanks to everyone on the Board and all our active volunteers for their work to preserve and maintain open space in Newton!

Webster Woods. Mayor Ruthanne Fuller has fulfilled her campaign commitment by creating a Webster Woods Advisory Committee. The panel has already started work to provide information and counsel to the Mayor in preparation for her discussions with Boston College, in hopes of preserving that critical open space. The Newton Conservators is represented by three directors and three advisors on the Advisory Panel.

Two-Bridges/Riverside Grants. In the past year, the Conservators joined with Bike Newton, Ted Chapman, and the nonprofit A Greener Greater Boston in administering a grant from DCR to do a survey and 25% design of a trail over two abandoned railroad bridges connecting Newton Lower Falls and Riverside MBTA Station. In addition, the Conservators have submitted a joint application (and agreed to be fiscal sponsors) for another possible DCR grant (1) to renovate the historic Pony-truss Bridge Trail, which is in danger of falling into the river in its mid-section near the Pony Truss Bridge and (2) to survey and design the Pidgeon Hill Road as an accessible path from Riverside Street to Oakland Ave.

Monitoring the Conservation Restrictions on seven City properties. Just eight of Newton’s city-owned open spaces are currently protected by a conservation restriction (CR). Newton Conservators “holds” the restriction for seven that do have that important protection. We monitor the properties to ensure they continue to meet the standards laid out in the CR. In the coming year, we will be working with the City Law Department to add four more city properties to our portfolio.

Creating a new path at Bracebridge Road. The Conservators has been working with the Wilson family for more than five years, and last fall we completed the relocated path through the property. Volunteers spread woodchips and worked to remove invasive plants along the path. (The Wilsons’ son André spent countless hours removing invasives and planting native trees and shrubs.) Next year, we will contract a professional baseline assessment of this property.

Interns. From June through August, high-school students Iris Liao and Bennett Walkes joined our team as paid interns. They pulled invasive plants, reached out to the community at our new display tables at the farmers’ markets, and did research on invasive plants, tick diseases, and the tree canopy. They also planted and tended a beautiful pollinator garden at the edge of Woodcock Meadow in Nahanton Park.

Ongoing projects at Woodcock Meadow and Cold Spring Park. With work from the City of Newton Forestry Department, a restoration plan developed by Conservators advisor Jon Regosin (Chief of Conservation for the state’s Endangered Species Program), and the work of volunteers, we’ve restored enough of Woodcock Meadow so that woodcocks are returning to their breeding ground. We’ve used the funds raised for Woodcock Meadow restoration to pay for supplies and judicious application of herbicide to prevent the invasive trees from re- sprouting. At Cold Spring Park, volunteers removed invasive buckthorn from two plots in the Red Maple Wetlands, establishing two demonstration plots to study whether the trees in one of the oldest forested sections of the city will regenerate if we keep the understory clear for native species. We also hope to raise funds for a kiosk in the park to present our progress – and to educate park users of the notable activities and plant species.

Education. We are committed to sharing our work and educating residents of Newton about the importance of open space – from Webster Woods to the proposed Two-Bridges Trail in Lower Falls. Through our annual grants program in 2017, we supported? the city’s Environmental Science Program and helped fund an extension of the fifth-grade learning garden at Peirce School.

Ideas for the Future

As much as we are grateful for all that Conservators members have accomplished this year, there is much work yet to be done. There is even more 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.

All the best,

More from the 2018 Annual Meeting