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Old 04-25-2019, 04:51 PM   #1
FK4
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Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

I wanted to start a thread specifically devoted to the natural environment and ecology in the Boston area. I was thinking this would be a place to

- discuss any issues of environmental threats, related or not related to specific developments or proposed projects

- ideas about preservation

- resources or just nice places to enjoy the environment around town

- climate change (an area Iím personally less interested in, and envisioned this to be more for discussions about the physical spaces in our region... but obviously an important and related topic)

Part of this comes from my perception that on here, I donít often hear much discussion of the wildlife side of developments, and when it comes up, itís often pilloried as NIMBYist obstruction. This thread doesnít need to necessarily be political, but since Iím starting it, I would lay out my opinion that the region faces as much ecological threat as it ever has. There are really two major threats:

1. There is an intense interest in redevelopment of Bostonís waterfront. So far, in the Seaport and east Boston where much of this development is concentrated, I think the city quite frankly completely blew an opportunity to restore wetlands and recreate environmental corridors, that would have been seamlessly integrated into new developments in a tasteful way that would have been appreciated by all. Itís too late for the Seaport, but East Boston is now front and center, and with more activism, perhaps not too late to push future developments to do more than just build lawns and trees with an occasional sculpture.

2. Filling in of open space in the suburbs: not a new issue, but there is much more undeveloped land, especially around JP, W Rox, Roslindale and S Brookline than you might think. As the City of Bostonís official policy is now to focus development on the outlying neighborhoods, open space corridors that serve as important habitats for wildlife are under threat, something that in the broader scheme of things should give everyone pause... since open space ainít ever coming back once developed.

So, thatís the purpose.
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Old 04-25-2019, 05:15 PM   #2
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

Id love to see the fort point channel cared about...at all. Idk how this isnt a thing at all. The only thing I ever hear is for it to be filled in more. Id like to see it at least partially restored, not into the South Bay... obviously, but there was a point where it didnt just peter off like it does now and the usable part extended further than it does along the South End. Even just widening it now could lead to a water taxi serving ink block/the south end.

I know its a mess now with rail yards and all kinds of crap going on, but Id like for them to pick a certain area slated for partial restoration in the future when viable. Meaning.. you dont have to do anything right now, but no widett circle decking because this is protected to be partially restored one day in the future. Ill try to find the map, but I believe right around 1900 South Bay had been filled in, but there was still a channel going much further inland. Returning back to this is probably all thats possible and thats fine and still fits in line with the history of the channel, nobody is saying restore the back bay either... but they did leave a waterway behind still that was reshaped. The channel never got to shine as it was polluted, but so was the Charles.

-Maybe its a lost cause and it would just take valuable land away. Idk, Id like to see this studied at least. I think its unfortunate that half of this waterway has been filled in and nobody cares. With how many things can be restored and areas revitalized I think its something to at least look at. One day maybe this could be a major asset to the city.

Heres one picture showing it right up to the South End. Imagine if instead of filling this in it had been cleaned up eventually. Across the water still are the rail yards, but if it had been kept and decked who knows how great it could have been. Again its probably a lost cause, but who knows in time.


Edit: Basically what Im saying is today in the area of the old channel, (the channel above thats after South Bay was filled in but before the highway and city services filled over the channel that was left) is warehouses, tracks, and highway. Maybe do a study and leave an area exempt from plopping buildings down on top of, that eventually could lead to a partial restoration of the other half of the channel thats been filled in and covered and lead to a revitalized area with a navigable waterway in a transit strapped city. Then maybe piece by piece it could be slowly brought back as places are sold, new highway projects happen, rails move etc.


--and to wrap that up even more, I just think they should at least do a study to see the potential of the channel and its old path for possible partial restoration at some point in the future. Like how they know where the Emerald Necklace will eventually go and slowly add more and more to it. There is a historical precedence to this in restoration of a historical waterway vs saying just extend the channel just because... thats why this holds weight and why Im surprised there is NOTHING about this. Where the channel ends now is sad.

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Old 04-25-2019, 11:46 PM   #3
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

The Seaport District and also NorthPoint would have been better off with some canals and wetland areas, both for aesthetics, flood control, and environmental balance. They are unfortunately cast in concrete (pun intended).

However, the Widett Circle future development would be a great opportunity to extend/restore the Fort Point Channel and South Bay. I think the part of Chelsea west of Route 1 is another, and parts of East Boston along the waterfront and around Logan as well. Canals and wetland corridors would be awesome on several levels in those and other locations to be redeveloped in the future.
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Old 04-26-2019, 07:29 AM   #4
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

I have notice even outside of Boston any area with trees, plants that poses a buildable lot gets ripped up or torn down. Everything is getting built upon without any concept of having anytype of natural surroundings at this point. Very sad.

This action should justify higher and larger skyscrapers in downtown Boston.

Lets try to save what is left for the natural environment for future generations.

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Old 04-26-2019, 08:54 AM   #5
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

FK - I appreciate this thread, so thank you for kicking off this discussion.

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However, the Widett Circle future development would be a great opportunity to extend/restore the Fort Point Channel and South Bay. I think the part of Chelsea west of Route 1 is another, and parts of East Boston along the waterfront and around Logan as well. Canals and wetland corridors would be awesome on several levels in those and other locations to be redeveloped in the future.

Right on, Charlie. As you know, I'm pretty involved with HYM's Suffolk Downs proposal. The wetland reclamation element of their plan is good, but many of us want to make sure that there's synergy with other local initiatives and priorities, and that it's scalable for the future (i.e. the removal and reclamation of the tank farm that's contiguous to their site).

In regard to the already-developed Massport parcels near Jeffries Point and Maverick Square little thinking was done from the standpoint of resiliency beyond adhering to MEPA's guidelines and Article 80 -- there's nothing "visionary" here, only the monetization of the spectacular view of Downtown.
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Old 04-26-2019, 09:05 AM   #6
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

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Id love to see the fort point channel cared about...at all. Idk how this isnt a thing at all. The only thing I ever hear is for it to be filled in more. Id like to see it at least partially restored, not into the South Bay...
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The Seaport District and also NorthPoint would have been better off with some canals and wetland areas, both for aesthetics, flood control, and environmental balance. They are unfortunately cast in concrete (pun intended).

However, the Widett Circle future development would be a great opportunity to extend/restore the Fort Point Channel and South Bay. I think the part of Chelsea west of Route 1 is another, and parts of East Boston along the waterfront and around Logan as well. Canals and wetland corridors would be awesome on several levels in those and other locations to be redeveloped in the future.
I think the original discussions of North Point were to daylight more of the Millers River, but I could be wrong. There is a very small wetland at North Point but it could have been larger; as has been discussed many times on that thread, what's most disappointing is the waste of land on multiple mini-parks that nobody will use. Olmstead was brilliant in that he allowed his grand parks to have both landscaped and wild areas, realizing that both were important; North Point would have been a prime opportunity for an actual addition to the Emerald Necklace.

But at least there's something - better than the Seaport, which is 100% landscaped/planned when there was ample opportunity for something semi-natural.

The most disappointing aspect of the Seaport for me is not the absence of canals but the actual shore, which would have benefited from some marsh/flats restoration instead of nothing but sharp land/water demarcations, which basically exist to expand dock space for yachts. Marsh and/or barrier island construction would also help absorb the inevitable storm surges to come, as well.

As for Widett, I agree. It's unrealistic, of course, to hope for a real restoration of the South Cove, but perhaps not so much to consider some restoration of marsh into the city-owned lands along 93. There are many reasons to do this, including flood control, which has been written about already by others. It's certainly not too late to advocate for this.

Overall, it is upsetting that these massive areas of development are also some of the last spaces to add truly great, new city greenspaces. I know the City Beautiful movement is long dead and buried, but in the 19th century, large swaths of planned development incorporated both buildings as well as grand parks. What happened to the desire to do more than just a corporate-designed mini-square?

Edit - BB, was writing as you posted above - really glad to hear there's advocacy for Suffolk Downs, especially around planning in anticipation for future projects. For the bigger developments, thinking ahead to ways to connect one greenspace to another from a different parcel is the crucial way to get bigger and better projects.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:55 PM   #7
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

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As for Widett, I agree. It's unrealistic, of course, to hope for a real restoration of the South Cove, but perhaps not so much to consider some restoration of marsh into the city-owned lands along 93. There are many reasons to do this, including flood control, which has been written about already by others. It's certainly not too late to advocate for this.
The only substantial structure standing between the existing South Bay stub and Widett Circle is the Boston Public Works facility. In a grand plan for redevelopment of the area, this shouldn't be that great of a barrier. Remove it, and there could be a wetland/canal corridor alongside the east side of I-93 to the Widett Circle area. Not a full restoration of the large historic South Bay, but a connecting canal/wetlands corridor to new wetlands in Widett Circle, integrated with the future development there.

Also, further north, redevelopment of the Gillette complex would offer ideal siting for wetland restoration along the east side of Fort Point Channel in conjunction with the new development.
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Old 04-29-2019, 04:40 PM   #8
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

I learned recently that the water you see from the arboretum path near forest hills is the only above ground part of Stony Brook left. I know the Brook will probably never be restored, but was pretty cool to learn, nonetheless.. and to imagine how JP would be if it had a brook running thru it like the Muddy.

Edit - after further research, that may not be true... the tunnel for Stony is on the other side of the tracks, but the course of the Stony was moved a lot for the duct. As far as I can tell, though, the original course was on the south/east side of FH.

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Old 05-07-2019, 04:52 PM   #9
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

I explored the Eldon St Urban Wild yesterday... despite living so close, I had never been. It's much bigger than I imagined. Hopeful that the neighborhood and concerned parties can successfully fight off the development that wants to cram in three condo buildings right up against the margin of the wetland... right now, it's all backyards off Walter St taht then slope down, and the current housing on that side of the space is not felt at all.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:55 PM   #10
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

Why are we having such a hard time planting trees? We had like a million tree goal and like 30 thousand got planted and over half died. Something like that. You go around the bulfinch triangle area and entire streets have not a single tree on either side, roads with new development too... unacceptable. Haverhill st, Medford st, Friend st, Portland st... not a single tree, then you get to Lancaster st and it has... 1. With renewed focus on the Bulfinch triangle they need to address this. Its probably the most glaringly sparse area in the city. Streets like Haverhill dont have a single storefront either so its even worse, just two blank walls and then pavement, this as a route to walk to the garden. Some trees would at least make it not a dungeon.
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:58 PM   #11
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

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Why are we having such a hard time planting trees? We had like a million tree goal and like 30 thousand got planted and over half died. Something like that. You go around the bulfinch triangle area and entire streets have not a single tree on either side, roads with new development too... unacceptable. Haverhill st, Medford st, Friend st, Portland st... not a single tree, then you get to Lancaster st and it has... 1. With renewed focus on the Bulfinch triangle they need to address this. Its probably the most glaringly sparse area in the city. Streets like Haverhill dont have a single storefront either so its even worse, just two blank walls and then pavement, this as a route to walk to the garden. Some trees would at least make it not a dungeon.
I'm totally with you. But I would draw attention to outlying neighborhoods if you want to see true deficits of street trees ó huge swaths of Mattapan, Hyde Park, Rozzie, Roxbury, Brighton, and Dorchester have few to no street trees at all. I would rather see attention directed to these areas, for equity's sake, as well as the fact that greening a neighborhood street in a semi-urban, mixed economic area would do more for the residents.

Edit - you would think the city could have made a deal with all these new developments to plant trees and tend them for the first 5-10 years, though, in re: Bullfinch Triangle and other new areas.
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Old 05-08-2019, 07:46 AM   #12
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

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I have notice even outside of Boston any area with trees, plants that poses a buildable lot gets ripped up or torn down. Everything is getting built upon without any concept of having anytype of natural surroundings at this point. Very sad.

This action should justify higher and larger skyscrapers in downtown Boston.

Lets try to save what is left for the natural environment for future generations.

I'm posting this again.

We are losing our natural surroundings at a rapid pace in and around our city. This alone should justify higher and larger footprint skyscrapers in a centralized locations to save our natural surroundings.

Even parts of the Fells near Stoneham which was private land is getting developed.

Its very sad that we are losing our Trees and vegetation life.
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:52 PM   #13
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

Went for a kayak yesterday on the Neponset. I wanted to go as far upriver as possible so picked a spot on the map where it went under a building, and drove to that point to put in. It ended up being a giant old factory complex at 83 Morse Street in Norwood, that was recently renovated and has many artist spaces and businesses as well as a very cool brewery (Percival Brewery) that has its own coffee roasting company in it, too. There was an event space next door with live music as well, and not one but two food trucks... all of this in an area I donít know at all and felt like the middle of nowhere. It was a lively scene and itís great to see it blossoming in places like this, outside of urban and/or non-urban-but-upscale yuppiedom. We popped into Castle Island Brewery on the way back to pick up the boats, since it was on the way ó also a nice spot, though I liked Percival's location better.

Anyway, we checked all that out when we came back to retrieve the car. Where we put the kayaks in, the river was basically a fast moving stream, and it was definitely pushing the definition of "navigable". A few rapids at the beginning stretch made it tricky. It was narrow and very fast for about a mile and half, then widened out for most of the rest. It was beautiful and felt surprisingly secluded for the entire way, despite the fact that much of the reservation is pretty narrow for the more upriver parts. Lots of fish, birds, very clear water for much of the way. We finished at Signal Hill Reservation in Canton (which happens to be across the highway from another brewery, Trillium, although that was never the intention; I'd never been there either and it was about to close, but still plenty of people; probably more impressive was the sheer number of businesses and jobs that exist on University Ave).

I've spent subsequent hours reading about East Walpole and Norwood, the Neponset and its tributaries. It's an interesting corner of the state; the river is narrow and is fed around here by many brooks, which are seemingly insubstantial but due to their flow, this specific area was a very dense region of some serious factories and mills back in the 19th century. Some have been redeveloped (there's also the Furniture Mill in Norwood on Hawe's Brook); others demolished; others remain abandoned. Obviously, pollution was horrible here and it persists in the sediments. Development has been intense, particularly in Norwood, and there are increasing pressures to develop further. We are lucky in this state to have so much environmental protection, but even despite that, there's limits, disappointing ones it seems, from what I have been reading on the Neponset River Watershed Association's site. They are very active in protecting the watershed, and mention several other local groups (including the CLF and local fishing groups). The area itself was interesting in that it seems to be criss crossed by railroads (one abandoned, one active) and its older housing stock is that usual mix you see in the old factory towns, of grand estates, nice middle class Victorians and then the random tenement villages with some surviving retail on the first floor... Also, along the abandoned rail line, this interesting remnant of old 19th C. hall (turn left to see old RR embankment.

There are many dams on the brooks that feed the Neponset around here, and this led to learning a lot about something I've heard about occasionally in the news but never given much thought to ó the thousands of dams on MA rivers severely limited many, formerly abundant anadromous fish populations. The state Division of Ecological Restoration (also a good Twitter feed) and local associations have been doing an impressive job getting rid of these, though... the Town Brook project in Plymouth is a really nice example that successfully brought back herring, just a couple weeks ago in April, after being finished in March. Some of these way-upstream Neponset brooks somehow have thriving brook trout populations, even despite all the disruption of the last two centuries. Lastly, I am amazed at the sheer amount of federal reach on this river, both from a hydrological standpoint as well as an environmental one. There are multiple USGS river gauges monitoring flow and depth on the Neponset, transmitted by satellite, just crazy how information is collected (and for how long - some of the gages have been monitored since the 1930s).

All in all, I used to think of the Neponset as being a boring, wide-mouthed cousin to the Charles, that petered out somewhere just after Milton, but it's a great resource (and rabbit hole for hydrology, ecology, governmental & nonprofit organizations, and history) and it was cool to see it from the water.

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Old 05-13-2019, 11:00 AM   #14
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

What I don't understand about CLF--- Which is supposed to be protecting our environment surroundings.

Quote:
Our Vision
"Weíre working towards a Massachusetts powered by low-cost, clean energy, with air free from dirty pollution and waters you can swim in, fish, and drink from without worryÖ a Massachusetts with a flourishing ocean untainted by pollution where fish are bountiful and our shorelines resilient to climate changeÖ and a Massachusetts with neighborhoods where you can easily walk and bike to the grocery store and work Ė and where everyone has easy access to public transit. This is the future that CLF is fighting to create."
How is suppressing downtown developments in the city good for the environment which provides public transit access to all only to push more developments outside of Boston which destroys Trees and Vegetation growth along with creating a very complicated traffic scenario which increase pollution.

This non-profit agency vision does not make any sense.
https://www.clf.org/serving-new-england/massachusetts/
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:33 AM   #15
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

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What I don't understand about CLF--- Which is supposed to be protecting our environment surroundings.


How is suppressing downtown developments in the city good for the environment which provides public transit access to all only to push more developments outside of Boston which destroys Trees and Vegetation growth along with creating a very complicated traffic scenario which increase pollution.

This non-profit agency vision does not make any sense.
https://www.clf.org/serving-new-england/massachusetts/
As you already know, every possible nuance of that discussion has already been litigated on other pages here (mostly by posters who have zero concern for anything closely resembling nuance).
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:34 AM   #16
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

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All in all, I used to think of the Neponset as being a boring, wide-mouthed cousin to the Charles, that petered out somewhere just after Milton, but it's a great resource and it was cool to see it from the water.
This is a great write-up. My experience with the Neponset is pretty limited, but I've enjoyed every minute I've spent nearby- on the river trail, exploring in and around Lower Mills/the old chocolate factory, even viewing the reservation from the Mattapan trolley. It's an incredible resource, and it sounds like I have more to see.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:44 AM   #17
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As you already know, every possible nuance of that discussion has already been litigated on other pages here (mostly by posters who have zero concern for anything closely resembling nuance).
I don't know. I have not read all the discussions concerning the overall environment what is healthy or not healthy for the city of Boston. The surrounding areas ECO systems in Boston are being destroyed because of the suppression of bigger and taller skyscapers in the core of the city.

There will be no trees left. Even private lots close to the Fells near Stoneham are getting ripped up.

Traffic is becoming a toxic which creates more pollution and frustration for the masses.

CLF contradicts itself and is a driving force for development suppression which supports reckless development opportunities outside of Boston.

The Mayor should be in talks with FAA, Massport and other authorities to lift height restrictions to build in the city.

More traffic, pollution and lack of trees= not a very healthy environment for humanity.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:46 PM   #18
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

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There will be no trees left. Even private lots close to the Fells near Stoneham are getting ripped up. ...
More traffic, pollution and lack of trees= not a very healthy environment for humanity.
Fells near Stoneham? Medford, maybe? Please attend the next meeting of
Medford Tree Advocacy Group
https://www.facebook.com/MedfordTrees/

And report back what you volunteered for. Seriously. I love the group (but am busy enough doing Walk Medford and Medford Bike things), and you don't have to live in Medford to speak for its trees.

Since the Lorax was lifted, it is up to you and me.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.

Unless.



PS if your town doesn't have a Tree Warden (best job title of all time, and, at least in Medford, a super-competent city official named Aggie Tuden), see what it takes to get your town one.

Having a Tree Warden I think fulfils one of the 4 criteria for being an Arbor Day "Tree City USA"
https://www.arborday.org/programs/tr.../standards.cfm
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:04 PM   #19
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

Cambridge has a good urban forest plan:

https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departme...restmasterplan
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Old 05-20-2019, 02:08 PM   #20
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Re: Ecology/Environmental issues, preservation, resources in Greater Boston

We got talking about the Norway Maple (all removed from the Volpe site in Cambridge).

Medford was big on Norway Maples in the 1920s, planting them in the narrow 4' verge between sidewalk and curb...they were (are) a disaster. They seem to have started heaving curbstones at age 40 and then by age 90 (now) were falling apart.

The roots are really knarly and tend to heave/move curbstones and also "bulb out" where they get hit by trucks, gashed, and half killed. Until they'd planted and waited 40 years it'd have been hard to know that they'd turn out that badly.

Other trees now being planted have a more "columnar" stump...(not cone/pyramidal like the Norway Maple) with their shape going "straight into the ground" rather than pushing out sideways.
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