The Middlesex Fells
The Fells is a 2,060 acre natural treasure, something all too rare in this urban/suburban landscape. A diverse landscape of rocky hills, meadows, wetlands, oak and hickory forests, quiet ponds, vernal pools, panoramic vistas and intriguing geological features distinguish this woodland. This range of habitat sustains a variety of wildlife including mammals such as coyote, fisher-cat, red fox, and white tail deer. Reptiles and amphibians are also resident. Birds such as scarlet tanager, eastern bluebird, hawks and many neo-tropical migrants nest, find cover and food here. A wide variety of common and rare trees, shrubs, wildflowers and insects too numerous to mention make their home in the Fells and add to the biological diversity.
The Fells has a long and varied cultural history. Native Americans hunted here for thousands of years before the colonial period when trees were harvested, animals were allowed to graze, and town lots created. Timber used by General Washington in the fortification of Dorchester Heights is believed to have been harvested from the Fells. In the 1800's, Spot Pond provided ice for worldwide export. Extensive rubber manufacturing existed at the end of the 19th century in an area called Haywardville.
The impact of 20th century man can also be seen throughout the Fells in the works of landscape architect Charles Eliot and the Olmsted Brothers firm as well as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Work Progress Administration. Route 93 and many other roads as well as several drinking water projects have impacted the landscape. However, when you walk the many quiet hiking trails and old forest roads that wind through the reservation, you may forget that you are only a few miles from Boston. The Fells includes areas in Medford, Winchester, Stoneham, Melrose and Malden, and is easily accessible from U.S. Route 93 or Mass. Rte. 28, numerous bus lines, rapid transit and commuter rail.
That's right. The Fells belongs to you, to all of us.
In a perfect world all we would have to do is enjoy the Fells knowing that its guardian, The Department of Conservation and Recreation, the DCR (formerly the MDC) is keeping the Reservation safe from misuse.
But it is not a perfect world. The Fells is being misused. And it is threatened. The guardian, despite many dedicated employees, sometimes cannot adequately cope with all the problems.
And that is why the we need your backing.
We have been fighting for years to keep the Fells as natural as it can be, often times with success.
Currently a massive redevelopment of the former hospital site on Woodland Road threatens the Fells Parkways and the Spot Pond Historic District. Substantial community support has enabled the Friends to successfully oppose the developer so far. But we are facing a well financed company determined to have its way.
Our success depends on persons like you willing to help the Friends protect your forest.
Peter Alden and class
Biodiversity Day in the Fells,Spring 2005
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The survey documents who first reported each species, whether it is there now (at least 868 are), how abundant it is, and in what parts of the Fells it can be found. Images of some of the plants seen in the Fells can be found at:
www.foundinthefells.com along with the best time of year to see them and updates about new plant species found in the Fells since the survey paper went to press.
Order your copy of this 80 page comprehensive survey of the plants of the Fells by sending a check for $10 to Friends of the Fells, 235 West Foster Street, Melrose MA, 02176.