~Submitted by Julie Brill
The reality about green space is once it’s gone, we’ve lost it forever. In Bedford, we must stay vigilant to protect what remains. We voted down a paved, widened, and plowed Reformatory Branch Trail in March and must do it again at town meeting on November 14/15.
As a near life-long resident, I’ve had a front row seat to Bedford’s increasing urbanization. Some neighboring towns hold on to their open space. At town meeting last May, Concord voted to keep their part of the RBT natural. But here we repeatedly say yes to development when we should say no.
There’s still time to save the RBT from becoming a road: 18 feet of pavement (12’ of asphalt and 6’ of stone dust margins) with a minimum of 6-foot clearing and grubbing on either side and a 10-foot-deep tunnel to accommodate the Town’s equipment. We have over 50 miles of streets and a paved bikeway you can ride to Cambridge. Bedford doesn’t need more asphalt.
Under the State’s proposal, every tree on the elevation would be clear cut. More trees would be sacrificed to parking lots and a new bikeway running along the DPW driveway off Hartwell. Over 4.3 acres of trees would be destroyed; no wonder the Bedford Arbor Resources Committee voted unanimously against it.
The Town tells us they’d replace trees. But mature forest would be “replaced” at only ten saplings per acre. And even that’s a hollow promise. Money waits in the fund for trees already lost as there is no place to replant them.
The plans also call for “replacing” wetlands. A 2018 UMass study shows this doesn’t work.
If the Minuteman Bikeway extends over the RBT, more and faster traffic will funnel into the threatened Blanding’s turtle habitat in Bedford, west of the proposed turn around and into Concord. Most of these rare species must cross the RBT to lay eggs. The babies, black and the size of a half-dollar, would risk being squashed as they cross into the Refuge and being poached for an international market. They risk hunkering down to avoid a crowded road when they should be crossing. Watch Dr. Bryan Windmiller’s talk on the Blanding’s and the threats they’d face.
The RBT is a popular, safe, quiet wooded corridor already enjoyed by walkers, cyclists, runners, and cross-country skiers. It’s a gem to protect. Please vote NO on Article 10 on November 14/15.