The Friends of Hemlock Gorge
Annual Letter to Members, 1999
December 3, 1999
Dear Friends of
On the eve of the millennium, at a particularly
special time of Thanksgiving and Holiday Cheer, we again write to
you to mark the end of an eventful year for the Friends. In
addition, we appeal to you to renew your membership and your
commitment to our activities in 2000. 1999 was a year in which
issues critical for the future of the Reservation received major
public attention and came to the verge of significant public
funding. It was, however, also a year in which the Hemlock Trees
that are heart and soul of the reservation began to show the
lethal effects of marauding insects.
- Combating the Woolly Adelgid
Many hemlocks in the Gorge are now infested with the
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Left unchecked, the adelgid
destroys infested trees in as little as four years. At
the request of Senator Cynthia Creem, MDC Commissioner
David Balfour provided funding for the injection of some
three dozen trees to save them. However, the hundreds of
additional trees will require a different intervention.
Senator Creem, Representative Kay Khan, and other
legislators placed $60,000 into the State Capital Budget
to grow a natural predator of the adelgid (P. tsugae) in
the quantities needed to treat the Reservation.
Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed the funds. The same
amount has been included in the operating budget, and we
are hoping for its passage. We are confident that funds
in this budget, or if need be, in next year's budget will
become available to save the Hemlocks.
Part of our success may have been due to major public
attention that was drawn to the issue. The Boston Globe
ran a major Science Section story on this issue. WBZ
anchor Jack Williams also published and op-ed piece in
the Boston Herald. When contacted by the Friends, Mr.
Williams produced a piece on the adelgid featuring the
gorge and interviews with Friends' president Brian Yates
and Dr. Charles Burnham, an expert on the adelgid and a
senior official with the Massachusetts Department of
Environmental Management. The feature was broadcast on
the early and late news on Sunday, September 19. Senator
Creem also arranged for Senate President Tom Birmingham
to visit Hemlock Gorge to gain firsthand knowledge of the
woolly adelgid issue and the need for repairs to Echo
Intensive efforts to combat the adelgid will be a top
priority of the Friends in the coming millennium.
- Restoration of Echo Bridge
Senator Creem and Representative Khan, working with
Representatives Balser, Koutjian, Locke, and Harkins, and
Senator Jacques also were able to place funding for
repairs to Echo Bridge placed in the Capital Budget.
Proposed repairs would include restoration of the Echo
Platform, the metal railings on the deck of the bridge,
and the stairway from Ellis Street to the Bridge.
Unfortunately, these funds were also vetoed, and no
override is possible this year. The Friends will work
with President Birmingham, who was very impressed with
the Bridge and recalled it on a recent visit to Newton.
We believe that the prospects for funding in the coming
year are good.
- The Stone Barn
We have continued to make efforts to find ways to pay for
rehabilitation of the historic Stone Barn Building in the
Reservation. Information on the Stone Barn, including its
history and architects' drawings, is available on our web
site. As a first step in rehabilitation, the Friends have
formulated a plan to 1) install historically correct but
unbreakable windows on the second floor and 2) to install
flooring that would make the interior safer, more
pleasant, and more suitable for meetings. The barn will
be inspected shortly by a master carpenter. It is our
intention to draw up plans for these improvements during
the coming winter and to do the construction this spring.
These efforts will be funded by the MDC and by the
Friends' operating budget, but it may be necessary to
appeal for donations of materials and funds in the coming
- Cleanups of the Reservation
We continued our fall and spring clean ups of the Gorge.
We worked with MDC Staff Members Kevin Hollenbeck and Bob
Hassett, and concluded each cleanup with lunch in the
Stone Barn. These efforts, together with regular
attention by the MDC, have made the Reservation a cleaner
place year round.
- The Friends' Web site (http://www.channel1.com/users/hemlock)
We're delighted to report that the number
of visitors to our web site has now exceeded 3000. We
have had commentary about the site from as far away as
Texas. One interested visitor from West Virginia with
roots in Upper Falls has become a member of the Friends.
We believe that the woolly adelgid section of our web
site is the best general introduction to this issue
available on the Internet. We attribute some of the
increasing interest in our web site to interest in this
issue. Visit the site for the newest news concerning the
- The Makers of the Mold
Ken Newcomb's History of Newton Upper
Falls: Makers of the Mold continues to be a major
attraction on our Web site, with nearly 1000 visitors to
date. Seekers of family history from across the US have
visited the site and sent fan mail to Ken in search of
more information! The section on Churches was used by the
Newton Historic Commission in its decision to delay
demolition of the St. Mary's Rectory near the Gorge. Do
visit the site
- The Friends' Bridge
We continue to work with the MDC to secure the necessary
architect's drawings and engineering approvals that must
precede efforts at fundraising.
To continue these efforts, we need your help.
It costs more than $500 per year to pay for our mailings, our web
site, and food for volunteers at our cleanups. Rehabilitation of
the Stone Barn will also require the help of the Friends. Please
pay dues so that we continue to carry out these functions.
Enclosed is a return envelope to make your response easy. Please
fill out the enclosed membership card and return it. If you wish
to join or renew, dues categories are listed on the card. Dues
for 2000 should be paid now if at all possible. You can
participate in our work in many ways, but your financial backing
Our monthly meeting is held at 7:15 p.m. on the
first Tuesday of most months at the Emerson Community Center on
Pettee Street in Newton Upper Falls. Dates are always given in
the meeting minutes mailed to members, and the web site always
has up-to-date information. Your attendance is always welcome!
Please join all of us in 2000 to make Hemlock
Gorge even more beautiful.
With best wishes,
Brian Yates, President
John P. Mordes, M.D., Membership Coordinator
This page last modified December 7, 1999
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