Muddy River overhaul poses threat to wildlife

October 19, 2012

The Boston Globe

The kickoff to the Muddy River renovation project has me concerned about local wildlife populations ("Flood-prone Muddy River to get an overhaul," Metro, Oct. 11). As an assistant professor of biology at Wheelock College studying local plants and animals for the past six years, I know how valuable this river is to local residents and to the diverse populations of animals that inhabit this area.

My students and I documented more than 60 species of vertebrates in our study site alone, which extends from the Longwood Avenue bridge to the culvert by the Landmark Center. The project, if it proceeds as planned, will have devastating effects on local wildlife species, including muskrats, little brown bats, turtles, and birds. The impact on local wildlife has not been properly assessed by a wetland biologist, and there is currently no wetland biologist advising on the project.

The plan to remove common reed from the site, followed by repeated applications of herbicide to the area, is ill advised. This plant, while considered invasive by many, is actually the appropriate emergent wetland species for an urban river edge and supports a large percentage of our animals as habitat and food source.

The denizens of our community, both small and large, deserve better.

Sara Levine

Cambridge

Assistant Professor of Biology

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