Annual Letter to Members, 2016

Dear Friends of Hemlock Gorge:

2016 has been a challenging and exciting year for the Friends.

  • The repairs to the Elliot Street/Central Avenue Bridge made our cleanup more difficult and forced us to move our summer picnic concert to the Newton Side of the River.
  • The Department of Conservation and Recreation put more resources into preserving the hemlocks and other trees.
  • A DCR statewide environmental health crew sprayed and/or  injected more than 30 hemlocks and will be back to do more in 2016 to protect more trees from the hemlock wooly adelgid and hemlock scale.  Two volunteers — one from Lupien arborists and another from the Arnold Arboretum – have expressed willingness to help with our efforts to save the trees.
  • Another DCR crew cut down dead trees and opened up the floor of the Reservation to much more sunlight and made the handful of small hemlocks in the Gorge more visible and accessible.  
  • Evan Westrate put together a proposal for DCR partnership funding of a new metal fence to replace the dilapidated one in front of the Stone Barn near the dam in Wellesley.  
  • Lee Fisher has led the Friends effort to work in partnership with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to replace the rusted and shattered railings on top of Echo Bridge with new steel railings that will keep their appearance far better than the current railings that look every one of their 100+ years.  
  • We’ve begun to study the deteriorated cedar roof of the Stone Barn and possible partnerships for repair. One is with the Army Corps of Engineers who fixed it 20 years ago and second with the U.S. Geological Survey, which has used the building for decades to record the depth of the River.

There are a wide range of possibilities for new projects and expansions of our past projects.

We need your help to build on our success.  

  • Our Spring and Fall cleanups need your continued participation.  
  • Our fundraising projects need your vocal and visible support as we ask Newton and Needham for Community Preservation Act funds and private donors to fund new railings for Echo Bridge.  
  • We will need to replenish the funds that we, The Friends of Hemlock Gorge, have pledged for the new railings by the circular dam and Stone Building. We will contribute $9000 to be matched by $18,000 from DCR.      
  • To partner with public and private agencies, we need to show that Hemlock Gorge has a strong base of community support.  
  • Please visit our web site at and attend our meetings, usually on the first Tuesday of the month. Future meeting, we hope, will be at the Whitney House, 260 Elliot Street. This is the former St Elizabeth’s Center in Upper Falls.
  • Please patronize the businesses in Newton and Needham that lost revenue because of the bridge closing and encourage your friends to do so as well.
    Dunn-Gaherin Restaurant in Newton has been particularly generous to the Friends.
    Buy gas and get your car repaired at the Echo Bridge Service Station on Chestnut Street in Upper Falls and check out their historic photos of the area.
    Do some holiday gift shopping at the shops in the Mills Falls complex and the shops across the River.
    Patronize the Charles River Restaurant in Upper Falls and Panella’s in Needham.
  • Finally, please come to the Bridge area from 11 A.M. to 12 noon on Saturday, December 17th to celebrate the re-opening of the Bridge and demonstrate to the community how many Friends Hemlock Gorge has.

We hope to receive your commitment and financial by your return mail,

Lastly, we especially hope to see you at our activities and meetings.

Thank you for all you have done for Hemlock Gorge Reservation in 2016 and for all you will help the Friends do in 2017.

Brian Yates, President

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