Silver Maple Forest Parade Energizes Advocates

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Over 100 participants from the Boston area attended rally and parade Saturday at the silver maple forest between Cambridge and Belmont.
Politicians spoke of challenges to preserve this tall forest which grows on public and private land in Belmont and Cambridge. Mike Connolly, legislative aide to City Counselor Dennis Carlone, described his encounter with three deer on his first visit to this forest just a short walk away from Alewife T station. State Senator Will Brownsberger, attempted three times to authorize state bonding towards an acquisition. He bemoaned possible results of the loss of the forest. Statements rose in optimism as Mystic River Watershed Assoc. Director EK Khalsa noted the practical floodplain value of forest preservation to surrounding residential and commercial enterprises. Quinton Zondervan, Green Cambridge spoke of preserving the forest to increase resilience to known climate change affects such as sea rise and severe storms.

Chair of the Belmont Board of Selectmen, Andres Rojas noted the high value and wish for Belmont to preserve the forest. Phil Sego of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, tied the fate of the forest as wildlife habitat to similar challenges nationwide, noting the need for politicians to hear many citizen voices in order to act. New city counselor Nadim Mazen expressed confidence that a growing movement of concerned citizens can bridge dichotomies between affordable housing and environmental preservation. Anne-Marie Lambert, Belmont Citizens Forum emphasized climate change and storm water issues warning that current precipitation data and upcoming climate change reports are understood before permitting the proposed Uplands 300 unit development. Fred Paulsen of Belmont noted rainfall data used in permitting in 2005 is vastly different today.

Giant Alewife fish puppets accompanied by noted saxophonist Stan Strickland led the parade down Acorn Park Drive along the Bulfinch wetlands and open space meadows. Drums, placards, wildlife images and “Sunny Green,” the giant sun goddess puppet led the parade. Stilt dancer Maya Apfelbaum was the visual highlight in her butterfly wings. Maya Apfelbaum honored the trees for paraders, thanking silver maple forest activists. Red Herring Morris dancers participated and led participants in a colorful maypole dance.

Closing appeals requested a less flood-prone location for affordable housing, to ensure public access to the resources and amenities provided by open space like the forest. A call was also made to reflect on the need for sustainable development, and a plea for regional connections to remain for citizens of Arlington, Cambridge, and Belmont and Somerville to thrive together.

Anyone interested in working to preserve the Silver Maple Forest is encouraged to contact their state senators and representatives to express their support for preserving the forest. Residents of Belmont, Cambridge and Arlington can also contact their local governing officials and encourage them to keep the forest from being cut down on their watch. Follow http://www.silvermapleforest.org/ and http://friendsofalewifereservation.org/ to stay informed on future events and actions!

Planning Team for Silver Maple Forest Rally:

Friends of Alewife Reservation: Ellen Mass elnmass@verizon.net
Belmont Citizens Forum: Anne-Marie Lambert ammlambert@gmail.com
Green Cambridge: Quinton Zondervan qyz915@gmail.com
Sustainable Arlington: David Landskov landskov@gmail.com
Event Master of Ceremonies: Mike Connolly mike.connolly.esq@gmail.com

Sponsors:

Friends of Alewife Reservation, Coalition to Preserve Belmont Uplands, Sustainable Belmont, Belmont Citizens Forum, Green Sanctuary Team of First Parish Arlington, Sustainable Arlington, Occupy Arlington, Sierra Club, Green Cambridge, Lesley University Division of Science and Mathematics, Belmont Land Trust, Mystic River Watershed Association, Tromp, 350 Massachusetts Cambridge Node, Cambridge Residents Alliance, Fresh Pond Residents Alliance, Cambridge City Councillors Dennis Carlone, Nadeem Mazen, and Marc McGovern, Greenport.

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