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Maynard Biodiversity Talks: A Tour of Hudson's River Walk

Biodiversity is an important measure of the health of our wildlife. The greater the variety of plants and animals, the healthier and more resilient the environment—and the better able it is to adjust to a changing climate.

So how do citizens of Maynard think about biodiversity, and what steps are they taking to foster it? What do people value about the wildlife in the gardens, woods, wetlands, and meadows in town? How and why do they cultivate biodiversity in their gardens? How do they protect and enhance biodiversity in the landscape? This blog attempts to answer these questions through conversation with a range of individuals with diverse viewpoints and approaches. We will look at efforts both small and large, from the cultivation of a single Bee Balm plant in a pot to town-wide initiatives.

First, a bit about me. I am interested in the biodiversity in my garden, and my efforts have been rewarded with a steadily increasing range of insects, plants, and amphibians. But I am neither an expert gardener nor a botanist, so I am curious to learn from others. I bring my interest, my questions, and a desire to understand how people think and respond to a changing world.

On April 19, Pam Helinek gave Abbie Barrett and me a tour of Hudson’s newly created Downtown River Walk. Pam is the Assistant Director of Planning and Community Development/Conservation Agent for Hudson and was instrumental in the planning and execution of this project. In the video she tells us about a multifaceted project to renovate this stretch of the Assabet’s river edge. The town of Hudson’s objectives included giving public access, restoring native vegetation, and stabilizing riverbanks to reproduce some of the processes of healthy riparian zones. Pam gave us a detailed account of how the project was funded, the stages of the project, and how they worked with volunteers.


This project interested us because a group of us have recently been trying to reimagine Maynard’s future relationship to the Assabet River, although an important difference is that this project took place on town land, and the bulk of Maynard’s stretch of the Assabet is privately owned. 


Hudson’s river walk involved soil remediation, because the most visible parts of the landscape represent less than 10 percent of the necessary components for a healthy succession process to advance. The remaining 90 percent of the landscape exists in soil. So, they added minerals, three classes of fungi, and other microorganisms in compost to improve the functioning and texture of the soil and to speed up healthy plant succession. Planting then included native grasses, ground cover plants, and native perennials, bushes, and trees. 


They have more work to do, but already the result is good for biodiversity and a great success for Hudson’s restaurants, which thrive on proximity to this attractive natural walkway. 


To learn more about how this project was planned, view the consultants’ storymap or view the full plan set.  


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