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Riverside Has a New Slab

23 Apr

IMG_0285After years of having a cracked and sinking slab/foundation for their scull (boat) storage, the Riverside Boat Club replaced it this spring. What better way to celebrate the new slab than with a semi-formal SLAB party with good food, good cheer and dancing. The sculls will move back into the boathouse this week. Look for them out on the river.

Other Signs of Spring
Central Cambridge Youth Baseball has kicked off their season with practices at the park and the soccer fields are also in use with soccer and frisbee players.IMG_1299

The Charles River Conservancy organized the first park cleanup of the season on Saturday. Students at Camp Kesem at MIT raked leaves and picked up sticks. Thank you!

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Camp Kesem at MIT did a park cleanup April 22

And the warm sun is drawing out terrace wall sitters as well, passing the time watching the river, the rowers, the geese…IMG_1300

Coming up this Saturday at Magazine Beach:
Charles River Earth Day Cleanup, 9-12 noon (rain or shine).
Kids, Bugs, Art, 1:30-3:30pm (rain date and time: April 29, 4-6pm)
Come join in the fun!

Change is Afoot!

13 Apr

Jean Devine and Barbara Passero of Meadowscaping will give us a wildflower garden in May. Paul Kelley of Mass Audubon and his Nature Heroes will help water it.

A lot is going on at the park today… The founders of Meadowscaping for Biodiversity met with representatives of the City, Mass Audubon and me to discuss how best to bring their wildflower garden to the park in early May. Look for 4-year-old asters, bee balm, blazing stars, blue vervain, coneflowers, coreopsis and more beside the eastern swale come May. The goal is to move them into the swale once we conquer the phragmites. In the meantime, black tarps will remain there, discouraging the hardy phragmites from reappearing.


And DCR is putting in the ADA-accessible path to the Powder Magazine. The bathrooms at the Magazine have been framed out and the place is abuzz with electricians and plumbers. The magazine will be fully renovated by early this summer!

For some, however, there is no time nor change, only contemplation…


Red-Winged Blackbirds, Come Nest!

8 Apr

This morning sixteen volunteers cut down the hedge where the canoe/kayak launch and outlook will go–just in time. The female red-winged blackbirds are just returning to the park, weeks after their mates, and will soon set up housekeeping. The goal of today’s cleanup was to remove the hedge BEFORE they nested at the site. (These bushes will be dug out, but later.) Never fear, most of the hedge is still up. Look for shorebirds–killdeer, snipes and American woodcocks–coming soon. They are usually here by now, but their migration has been delayed by the bomb cyclones.

Many thanks to Riverside Boat Club, the CRLS Charles River Cleanup Project and to Cambridgeport neighbors for coming out to help today. Thanks are also due to the Charles River Conservancy for loaning us their tools and to the City of Cambridge for hauling the brush away.

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Nature Heroes Discover @ MB

5 Apr

Tuesdays, February-June, Paul Kelley from Mass Audubon brings Morse afterschool students to explore the park as Nature Heroes.

The Nature Heroes program at Magazine Beach was created to provide students from Morse Elementary the opportunity to make connections with a nearby green space. Topics we are going to cover include plants and pollinators, water quality, and predator prey relationships. One of my favorite quotes is; “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” (Baba Dioum, 1968.)  

 Through exploring Magazine Beach, learning about its past history as a powder magazine, and creating fun, new memories, students will develop a sense of place with Magazine Beach, empowering them to conserve its beauty and importance as a habitat for wildlife. My hope is that those who attend this program bring their friends and family out to Magazine Beach, and other green spaces in Cambridge, to spread the knowledge and love of such amazing nature in an urban setting. It’s all right there and all you have to do is look for it!

–Paul Kelley, Habitat, a Mass Audubon Sanctuary

Note: This program is funded by the CRWA’s National Fish & Wildlife Foundation grant. Its goal is to improve watersheds and cultivate stewards of them.


A hawk appeared out of no where, within 25 feet of our Nature Heroes as they explored the park.

Interested in nature at the Park? See our spring edition of Nature Notes @ Magazine Beach.

Also… HELP! We Need Volunteers to Cut the Hedges at the New Canoe/Kayak Launch at Magazine Beach Park THIS Sunday, April 8, 9am-12noon

We’ve got to cut down the hedges ASAP at the site of the new, expanded ADA-accessible canoe/kayak launch & outlook BEFORE the red-winged blackbirds nest there. (Construction will probably begin in May, but the birds will begin nesting soon.)

PLEASE join us. We’ll have tools, water and some work gloves. Please bring work gloves (if you have them) and a snack. We’ll be meeting at the current boat launch at the end of the Cottage Farm Plant parking lot—the most eastern parking lot at the park.  Questions? Email or call Cathie of Magazine Beach Partners at 617-460-2716 or THANKS in advance.




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.