Annual Letter to Members, 2010

Dear Friends of Hemlock Gorge:

As 2010 draws to a close, we write to update you on the activities of the Friends. In addition, we appeal to you to renew your membership and your personal and financial commitment to our activities in 2011.

In 2011, we will continue to work with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and its Urban Park Bureau. We will also continue our partnership with Site Supervisor Erica Aubin and former Site Supervisor and DCR administrator Kevin Hollenbeck. We hope you will share our pleasure in the accomplishments of 2010 and our hopes for 2011.

The Friends Receive a Newton Preserves Award

Insect Wars: the Woolly Adelgid and new pests

The long struggle to save the trees in Hemlock Gorge remains in the hands of Mother Nature. In 2001, we released 15,000 ladybugs to eat the adelgids. We continue to conduct periodic inspections of the trees during our cleanups, but the news is mixed. Many “sentinel trees” show some evidence of a reduction in adelgid infestation, and many trees that seemed imperiled show new growth. However, a number, of hemlocks have died, and the prognosis for other hemlocks is still guarded. State Forester Charlie Burnham visited Hemlock Gorge in November to review the status of the adelgids and the hemlocks, and we are awaiting his report. For more information, see We will keep everyone apprised of the state of the trees and of the new pests like the Asian Longhorned Beetle that are threatening to attack the hardwood trees of eastern Massachusetts after having been discovered in Worcester County.

Cleanups of the Reservation

We again conducted spring and fall cleanups of the Gorge. These efforts, together with regular attention by DCR staff, have kept the Reservation clean and appealing. Graffiti continues to be a problem, and there is defacement that we will work with DCR to remove in the spring. At our request, DCR has installed better signage to discourage trespassing after dark with its attendant vandalism. We are also working to eliminate invasive plant species from the Reservation.

Our Annual Picnic and Concert Event

In 2010, for the fifth time, we had live music at our Summer Picnic. The Friends’ 2008 Summer Picnic took place under clear skies in early August. About 50 people came. Thanks to the generosity of Karen Osborn Shanley, whom we long ago crowned as the Empress of Hemlock Gorge, we enjoyed a program of live jazz.  Site Supervisor Erica Aubin provided everything needed for our cookout, and a grand time was had by all.

The Friends’ Web site ( )

The Friends’ Web site, online since 1996, continues to generate interest and inquiries from far and wide. There have been nearly 35,000 visitors to our site and more than 6,000 visitors to Ken Newcomb’s book on the history of Newton Upper Falls, Makers of the Mold. The web site continues to be one of our major assets.

Please give us your financial support so that we can continue to send out mailings, maintain our website, and feed volunteers at our cleanups. Enclosed is a return envelope to make your response easy. Please fill out the membership card and return it. Dues categories are listed on the card. We ask that you give us your email address to help reduce our postal costs and get you information faster; it is never shared with anyone.

Our ability to enhance Hemlock Gorge is limited only by our imagination and enthusiasm. If you’d like to take part, please call or email us or attend one of our monthly meetings in the Emerson Community Center on Pettee Street in Upper Falls. Meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of most months. (Exceptions are for elections and holidays.) Dates are given in the meeting minutes sent to members, and the web site has up-to-date information. Your attendance is always extremely welcome!

Despite the financial crisis, 2008 was a good year for the Friends. We trust 2009 will be better. Please be part of our work. Your support is needed more than ever.

With best wishes,

Brian Yates, President

John P. Mordes, M.D., Membership Coordinator and Webmaster