A Winter Wonderland

14 Mar


Take a walk. There’s snow and lots of it, but spring is on its way: the willow is greening and trees are preparing to bud. A wasp nest is visible (no longer hidden by leaves), the Powder Magazine has icicles, and a snowman awaits–at the park entrance at Pleasant Street.

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Progress! Wading Pool Gone & Powder Magazine Renovations

27 Feb


Straight from DCR’s Peter Seweryn, who is overseeing this work:

The Interior Rehabilitation of the Powder Magazine continues to progress, with tradesmen currently working on the building. To date – the interior stone face has been cleaned and re-pointed, electrical work started, a new water line to the building was added, and the plumbing lines are currently being installed. In the coming weeks, we will see the floor refinished, bathrooms framed out, and 85% of the electrical work completed. After the interior work wraps up, we will have a new ADA path installed to the Powder Magazine. We are shooting for a May 1st wrap up of work to the building, and then some general site clean-up (turf restoration, seeding) to follow.

 Also, take note: the old broken wading pool is now gone! Thank you, DCR!


The broken wading pool is gone! The area will be reseeded soon.

DCR Celebrates Partners, Including MBPs

12 Jan

Sen. Boncore, Rep. Livingstone, DCR Comm. Roy &Magazine Beach Partners’ board members Cathie Zusy, Peter Klinefelter and Brian Conway at yesterday’s State House event

January 11 at the State House, Magazine Beach Partners was honored, along with volunteer groups from across Massachusetts, for partnering with DCR. DCR awarded us with Partnership Matching Funds to mount interpretative signs at the park and build an outlook, for river viewing. DCR matched Cambridge CPA funds 2:1 for the signs and community dollars (raised by the MB Comm. of the CNA and MBPs and donated by YOU) 2:1 for the outlook. Many thanks to all who have contributed. DCR can’t make much needed improvements at the park without us!

2018 will be a big year at Magazine Beach as we move from planning to implementing Phase 2. The canoe/kayak launch and outlook is our first “little” project. Also in 2018, we’ll be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Powder Magazine. Information about that to come…


Needed: More $ for Canoe/Kayak Launch

30 Dec

Needed: More $ for Canoe/Kayak Launch

In January DCR will send the Canoe/Kayak Launch & Outlook out to bid–the first “little” phase of Phase 2 improvements. This will be the first public boat launch on the Cambridge side of the river. It’s at the end of the Cottage Farm Plant parking lot, beside the BU Bridge.

Project Scope: The project includes an expanded and upgraded ADA-accessible kayak and canoe launch, an adjacent river observation deck, and boardwalk structures improving pedestrian circulation through the area.

Funding to date: The City, State, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority and community have all contributed to this, but we remain short. In late December DCR has just pledged to match contributions to Magazine Beach Partners 1:1. Please contribute TODAY! (Remember: Gifts are tax deductible.)

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How to donate: Write checks to Magazine Beach Partners, Inc. and mail them to Marge Amster, Treasurer, MBPs, 10 McTernan St., Cambridge, MA 02139 OR contribute on Paypal. (Note: We’re still setting up our MBPs Paypal account.  You can donate to the CNA here and the money will go to MBPs.)

THANK YOU! For a list of our 2017 Accomplishments, please scroll down. Happy New Year from Magazine Beach Partners!



What a Year–2017!

21 Dec

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We have moved from planning to implementing Phase II improvements. Hallelujah!

Physical Improvements

*In September DCR opened the new spray deck. Now they are removing the broken wading pool.

*Campbell Construction is under contract to make interior improvements to the Powder Magazine—adding 2 public bathrooms. Look for work to begin soon.

*Landscape designers CSS have prepared bid documents for the canoe/kayak launch and outlook. These will go out in January.

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*Magazine Beach Partners organized almost 40 programs, partnering with 12 groups and drawing almost 1,800 participants.


*The CRWA led a campaign to remove Phragmites from the eastern swale. While remaining rhizomes will certainly sprout in the spring, the battle has begun and the black tarp that covers the swale will discourage growth.

*MBPs has raised funds from the City, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, DCR and the community for the boat launch, outlook and interpretative signs.

*MBPS published fall and winter editions of Nature Notes @ Magazine Beach and Jeanne Strahan continued the wildlife inventory.

*MBPs spun off from the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association to become a separate 501c3.

Thanks to all who have contributed with money or time. None of this would have happened without you!

Please help support further improvements and programs by donating TODAY! Generous anonymous donors have offered a $10k challenge match, so your gift will double. Make checks out to “Magazine Beach Partners, Inc.” and send them to Marge Amster, Treasurer, MBPs, 10 McTernan St., Cambridge, MA 02139 OR contribute on Paypal. (Note: We’re still setting up our MBPs Paypal account.  You can donate to the CNA here and the money will go to MBPs.)






Thanks to the Over 330 Who Have Volunteered

19 Nov

Update: Another 22 volunteers help out today, December 2. Thank you! See photo of what the site looks like NOW way below.

Forest Tze, a UMass Boston student, has dedicated 15 hours to this project. Thank you, Forest!

It was perfect in the swales this morning: 55˚ F with a light warm rain and mud everywhere—ideal conditions for pulling out phragmite rhizomes. They came out easily.

Removing phragmites is a meditation. There you are outside, in a beautiful spot with a big sky and good company, focused on accomplishing a physical task. While the project itself can seem overwhelming (and even futile), the task itself is satisfying and, especially today in the mud, even fun. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so dirty.


The rhizomes are thick and extend in a web 3″-6″ deep across the swale.

I have developed extraordinary respect for phragmites. They dominate because they extend a web of 1/2”-¾” thick rhizomes that grow horizontally 3-6” below the surface. They’re strong and jointed like bamboo. They also spread by seed from their beautiful seedheads. A few weeks ago, on a windy day, we watched thousands of these seeds blow across the fields.


Who knows why phragmites overtook the eastern swale? It wasn’t one of the 20 wildflowers planted there in 2009. Curiously, the “sister” western swale at the park is without them.


The western swale is full of wildflowers and volunteer trees.

In the next weeks, Elisabeth Cianciola of the Charles River Watershed Association will lead a few more volunteer events to dig out the last rhizomes and then cover the site with black fabric that will stay down for 2 years. Then, wildflowers will be planted, which, we hope, will out compete the phragmites.

The whole goal of this project has been to replace the invasive phragmites with wildflowers again for the sake of biodiversity and to recreate a richer habitat for insects and birds. May we be successful.


Eastern swale as of 12.2. The CRWA will be covering it with black tarp in the next few days.

Thanks to the over 330 who have already volunteered, to the others who will pitch in in the coming weeks, to the CRWA for leading this effort, to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation for funding it, to the Charles River Conservancy for partnering, and to the City of Cambridge for loaning tools and disposing of the waste. Working together, we’ve got a shot at success. This small project has been HUGE.


Troop 56 Pitches In

10 Nov


Many thanks to the 40 or so who came out on our first cold windy day to lop off the heads and dig up the rhizomes of the persistent phragmites. They are beautiful, but they take over. In 2019 a seed mix of 20 wildflowers was planted in the two swales (stormwater filtration basins) at Magazine Beach. Today the eastern swale is mostly phragmites–which came on their own.

Troop 56’s Gwei Strong-Allen did a fabulous job leading her Venture Scout Project. This is a culminating conservation project, similar to an Eagle Scout Project. She recruited most of the volunteers, oriented them, borrowed tools and applied for permits.

If you’d like to contribute to this battle–man vs. phragmites–you still can. Tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 11, from 9am-12noon, the Charles River Conservancy will hold another invasive removal event and plant bulbs, too.

If you haven’t registered, please bring a shovel, wear boots, and dress in layers. We’ll have everything else you need. It will be cold, but you’re tough and I’m bringing hot brownies…

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11/11/17 Update: On Friday we broke through the “Northwest Passage” of phragmites, opening up the North and South sections of the swale. Today, with the help of 50 MORE FABULOUS volunteers we cleared an even broader area. Students from MIT, BU, Northeastern, CRLS and volunteers from the New England Aquarium, all helped out. See our progress below.


The swales as they look now after the attention of 90 volunteers these last two days. Welcome wildflowers!

Update: 11.18.19: Thank you Riverside, CRLS, CRWA and Cport volunteers for all your digging today. Almost 35 were on site and we cleared more area. We’re getting there! Tomorrow we’ll be there once more, from 8:30-noon, at least. The rain should end around 8:30-9am and we should have clear skies and 55 degree weather for the rest of the day… Wear boots and be prepared to get messy! No need to register. Just come. We’ll have tools, work gloves, and hot brownies…






MB Partners Advocate for Green Budget

2 Nov


As part of Parks & Water Lobby Day at the State House today, members of the board of Magazine Beach Partners and the Esplanade Association met with Rep. Jay Livingstone and staff from Senators Joe Boncore and Sal Didomenico’s offices. The goal: to encourage State legislators to support funding increases for the Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) and Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

The Environmental League of Massachusetts supports adding $10M to DCR and DEP’s budgets in FY19. DCR has lost nearly 400 full-time positions (30% of its workforce) in the past seven years and MassDEP’s budget is down 30%. (See most recent Green Budget report here.)

If we want to see improvements at Magazine Beach, we must encourage the State to invest more in DCR. (Its capital budget was reduced from $120M in FY17 to $93M in FY18!) And we need to raise other public and private funds. Many thanks to the City of Cambridge and to all of you who have contributed to date!


In the Reeds…

29 Oct


Many thanks to the over 40 volunteers who helped dig out phragmites and purple loosestrife at Magazine Beach Saturday. Among them were many members of the Charles River Project at CRLS, other high school students, CRWA members and members of the Fiji fraternity at Northeastern.

There is still much more work to do, but we’re making progress. Venture Scout Gwei Strong-Allen will lead a cleanup Friday, November 10 (when Veteran’s Day is being observed), 9-4pm. Sign up to register here. WE NEED HELP! For more information about phragmites and why they are a problem, click here.

And there will be another cleanup Saturday, Nov. 11, 9am-12noon. Email Sasha to register for that one: svallieres@thecharles.org. (We ask you to register so that we know how many tools to borrow.)

Head of the Charles!

21 Oct

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11,000 athletes are rowing on the river this weekend in the world’s largest two-day regatta. Races run Saturday: 7:45am-4:45pm & Sunday: 7:45am-3:54pm.

Single and double sculls launch out of Magazine Beach–a good place to watch the race and enjoy these gorgeous days. Watch for Magazine Beach’s Riverside Boat Club rowers donning their blue and white striped tank tops. Five of them just competed for the USA in the World Championships in Sarasota, FL.


11.6.17 Update: Just heard that Riverside won the Head of the Charles McMahon Cup, Regatta Points Trophy for the third year running (2015, 2019, 2017), and for the fourth time in Riverside history.  The MacMahon Cup is presented each year to the “non-national-team” institution (e.g., a club, school, college or university) that demonstrates overall rowing supremacy at the Regatta, by compiling the highest number of points.  Way to go, Riverside!

Also, check out the swales. Wildflowers are seeding–ensuring another season of flowers while providing nourishment for the birds.