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On Thursday August 6th, my camp went to the state house. The reason we were there was to attend a hearing on the Silver Maple Forest. We gathered our as we watched other testimonies for different events once our topics came up three campers who names are Charlie, Brian and Elijah. All spoke about why they thought the Silver Maple forest should stay and not be turned in to housing. This is an excerpt of what they said: Brian said “that it’s foolish that the contractor is tearing down a natural resource to build a resource that doesn’t need to be there.” Charlie said “I agree it’s foolish and I bet there a lot of vacant lots around Belmont that this contractor can build on because he will be destroying a rare urban forest.” And finally Elijah was saying “I have lived in cities all my life and there is a lot of housing that is completely empty and I doubt this housing will be used.” This hearing was so the DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) can prevent this contractor to build on the forest and make it apart of the reservation. So our representative is trying to pass an acquisition bill and if that happens we may be able to buy the silver maple forest. What is so good about the reservation and Silver Maple forest is it accessibility it is a five minute walk from the alewife train station and basically everyone can go and see it. And if they do build housing on the forest it’s a bad location because it will be right next to root two and there are also almost no schools around and the contractor clamed that it is going to be affordable housing but less then 50 percent of them are going to be affordable housing. We are all hoping that the state will make this forest protected and unable to be constructed on because not only is it a rare environment it is possibly home to rare birds, land animals and fungi. So in a few months they are going to hold another hearing and we might possibly need to take this to the governor or anyone we may need to tell so that this forest can stay for everyone to see.
By Charlie Carbone


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Campers from Cambridge’s Friends of Alewife Reservation and the Mayor’s Youth Summer Employment Program visited the State House, August 6th, for a hearing on the Silver Maple Forest of the Belmont Uplands volunteering apart from their daily program to testify before The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture headed by Senate Chair Anthony Petruccelli and House Chair William Straus. They heard Representative William Brownsberger’s proposed Bill 701, to acquire the forest in collaboration with the surrounding municipal communities. Three of the campers, Brian Haggerty-Perreault, Elijah Scott, and Charlie Carbone testified. They described the forest as a valuable environmental educational resource for the youth of Cambridge, Belmont, and Arlington, who would lose out with the destruction of the forest, because it is presently a wildlife refuge accessible by public transportation with many lessons which cannot be learned in the classroom. Elijah Scott spoke about life as an urban youth, “I'm used to living with many cars, buildings, and people. When we go out to the reservation, particularly the silver maple forest, I feel like I am in a totally different world. It feels good to be able to get out of my natural setting and into the forest with the silver maple trees." Brian Haggerty-Perreault also pointed to the rarity of such a forest within dense urban populations. Charles Carbone highlighted each animal species that uses the forest as their habitat such as deer and fox, which they saw several times. Campers used a 5 foot GIS map of the reservation to show the strategic corridor and forest location to the Committee. Camp Supervisor, Katherine Walsh, pointed to social, economic, and health benefits, and campers’ reactions to their work projects and earth science lessons. Sue Bass of Belmont Citizens Forum testified to the importance of the Belmont region as well. After the Hearing, the youth were guided by Representative Brownsberger to the Governor’s office to deliver letters from all campers requesting that the forest be preserved.

Katherine Walsh
Supervisor
FAR Summer Ecology Camp


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