Middlesex Fells Planning Unit

Resource Management Plan

The 2,575 acre Middlesex Fells Reservation contains a wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources. Within and surrounded by the communities of Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham and Winchester (total population 182,934) the Fells provides a natural oasis in the urbanized metropolitan region. Born of its geologic, biologic and, most importantly, human history, the Fells is characterized by rocky outcrops, diverse plant communities, mixed woodlands, open meadows, ponds, streams, and wetlands, and is well used by hikers, mountain bikers, dog-walkers, runners skiers and others.

The Middlesex Fells played an important role in the very beginnings of the land conservation movement in the United States. Used for thousands of years by Native Americans as hunting and gathering grounds, tool sources and possibly habitation; the rocky landscape of the Fells region resisted heavy development by European settlers. Although the Fells were cleared, quarried, grazed, settled and in some places developed during the 1700s and 1800s, by the late 1800s the landscape was primarily still in a natural state. The first piece of the Fells to be protected as public open space was Virginia Wood, donated to the newly formed Trustees of Reservations in 1892. The following year, the Massachusetts Legislature established the Metropolitan Parks Commission (MPC), lead by Sylvester Baxter and Charles Eliot, with the authority to “acquire, maintain and make available to the inhabitants of said district open spaces for exercise and recreation.” By 1900, the new commission had acquired 1,881 acres in the Fells. Today, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (an agency created through a merger of the Metropolitan District Commission and the Department of Environmental Management) owns and manages over 2,500 as a part of our mission to “protect, promote and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources.”

RMPs are working documents that consider the past, present and future of a property. RMPs draw on available existing information to provide an inventory and assessment of existing conditions and activities, enabling DCR to establish guidelines for future management. Results of the planning process include guidance for short and long-term management of properties under the stewardship of DCR. The RMP will identify priorities for capital and operating budgets, and guidance for operational activities.

Public input will be an important component of the process that enhances communication and cooperation with visitors, stakeholders, partners, and the surrounding communities. An initial public meeting was held at the McGlynn Middle School in Medford on January 31, 2011. This is followed by a series of public informational workshops.

As DCR engages in the Resource Management Planning process, we encourage all users, residents and other interested parties to come together in a spirit of collaboration to help us plan for the management of the Reservation and build common ground among all those who enjoy and care about the Middlesex Fells.

Updates and materials concerning the Fells Resource Management Planning process and upcoming meetings will be posted at public meetings website.

Emails and written comments should be sent to rmp.comments@state.ma.us or by mail to Fells RMP Comments, 136 Damon Road, Northampton, MA, 01060.

Questions about the public meetings may be directed to 617-626-4974 or email DCR.Updates@state.ma.us

Project Manager

Paul Jahnige
Director Greenways and Trails Program
Department of Conservation and Recreation
136 Damon Rd
Northampton, MA 01060
413-586-8706 ext. 20