Watertown Celebrates Arbor Day Outside Commander’s Mansion

The sun came out Thursday for the Town’s annual Arbor Day Celebration at the Commander’s Mansion in the Watertown Arsenal. 

Attendees could visit tables of local organizations and businesses, or enjoy some of the activities for children. The event drew a number of youngsters, said Michelle Cokonougher, who coordinated the event on behalf of Trees for Watertown. “A whole class from Bright Horizons came over right at 11 (a.m.),” Cokonougher said. Arbor Day is an American holiday were people are encouraged to plant trees. In past years, the Tree Warden put together the Arbor Day event, but Watertown currently has no warden.

Tour of Chemical-Free Gardens in Watertown Planned for Early May

The organizers of a tour of gardens which do not use chemicals will be held on May 6, 2018 , from 1 to 5 p.m., at homes around Watertown. Organizers provided the following information:
We look forward to Watertown’s 20th Life-Friendly Garden Tour! Imagine a Sunday afternoon in May, redbud and dogwood in blossom, tulips and late narcissus in bloom, where bees are buzzing, robins are singing, and you are viewing flourishing plantings and learning from your host or hostess about healthy, earth-friendly gardens. On Sunday May 6 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m., a chemical-free, admission-free garden tour will be sponsored by Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice, and the Environment. This will be the 20th Life-Friendly Garden Tour since the first one in 2007!

Charles River Watershed Association Hosting Cleanup, Canoe & Kayak Race

This weekend will be a big one along the Charles River as advocates for the waterway will host a cleanup Saturday and on Sunday will hold a canoe and kayak race. The Charles River Watershed Association provided the following information:
River Cleanup
On Saturday, April 28 at 9 a.m., Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) will sponsor the Earth Day Charles River Cleanup. Volunteers from over 35 Massachusetts towns will work together at 104 sites along the Charles River to remove litter and beautify the river and its surrounding parklands. The largest one-day river cleanup in the country, this annual event brings together people from corporate, community and youth groups to protect the Charles River, an important natural resource for our whole community. After the Cleanup, volunteers will relax at one of three picnics, including a celebration at DCR’s Fiedler Field on the Esplanade.

Public Works Has Rain Barrels Available for Purchase at a Discounted Price

With spring here (or almost here?) the Watertown Department of Public Works announced it has rain barrels for residents to purchase at a discounted rate. 
Rain barrels can offset homeowner’s water usage, particularly in the spring, summer and fall seasons when outdoor watering needs increase. Also, stormwater from the Town’s drainage system flows directly to the Charles River without treatment and is one of many contributors to pollution in the river. Rain barrels can help reduce stormwater runoff. The DPW requests that people call in advance (617-972-6420) before picking up a barrel. The DPW sent out the following information:

Did you know that using a rain barrel to collect precious rainwater not only conserves energy and you may even save money on your next water bill?

Watertown State Reps. Call for State to Invest in Electric Vehicle Technology, Infrastructure

Representatives Jonathan Hecht and John Lawn joined 36 other legislators who weighed in on the allocation of $75 million that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is scheduled to receive from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund, the two reps from Watertown announced. Members urged the Department of Environmental Protection, which is charged with dispensing the money, to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and invest the balance of the funds in fully-electric transit and school buses. The money will be received as part of a multi-state settlement with Volkswagen after it used a cheating computer system that ran emissions controls during testing but not during normal vehicle operation. Emissions from these vehicles were 15-40 times the federal Environmental Protection Agency compliance level. Volkswagen has agreed to spend nearly $15 billion on remedial action, including $2.9 billion that is being divided up among participating states and territories.

Conservation Commission to Hear About Studies of Whitney Hill Park’s Plant, Animal Life; More Info from Annual Report

The annual report on Watertown’s last piece of wooded land, Whitney Hill Park, recommends continuing to study the trees and animals on the land. The report will be discussed by the Conservation Commission on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Lower Hearing Room in Town Hall, 149 Main St., Watertown. Activities in 2017

Several studies of Whitney Hill took place last year, looking at the plants, animals and more. Data about the lower woody vegetation (which includes saplings and shrubs) on Whitney Hill have been digitized by ConCom member Patrick Fairbairn. This will be used as a baseline to track future changes of the hill.

Noted Environmentalist Speaking at Charles River Watershed Association’s Annual Meeting

Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), the leading science and advocacy organization for the Charles River and its watershed, announced it will highlight its programs and progress helping Massachusetts communities better withstand climate change at its annual meeting on March 8th at the Boston Marriott Newton. At the meeting, executive director Bob Zimmerman will review CRWA’s recent accomplishments and current efforts to improve neighborhoods’ resiliency to the extreme storms and frequent droughts brought on by the warming of the earth’s climate system. The keynote speaker will be noted environmental activist Alexie Torres-Fleming, who will demonstrate the power a community has in shaping its own environmental destiny. Drawing from her experience in spurring restoration of the Bronx River in New York City, Torres-Fleming will help frame CRWA’s work in climate resilience through the lens of community empowerment. “At a time of retrenchment in federal environmental policy, Torres-Fleming’s insights on activism are particularly instructive,” said Bob Zimmerman, CRWA executive director.

OP-ED: Sen. Brownsberger Looks at Local Flooding Risks From Climate Change

As a legislator, I’ve been concerned to reduce our contributions to climate change.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to better understand the local flooding risks caused by the climate changes we seem unable to prevent. It’s hard to know how much the seas are going to rise. First, no one knows how much the people of the world will be able to reduce carbon emissions. Second, even within a given emissions scenario, the uncertainties are considerable.  For example, if we just assume continually growing emissions, the estimates of probable local sea level rise vary by a factor of two from 3.2 feet to 7.4 feet by 2100. Much of Boston lies quite low, so these uncertainties matter.