To the Editor:
The controversy regarding the Sprague’s Cove Stormwater Remediation Project has resulted in a number of letters to the editor that have often contained erroneous and/or at best misleading information. In the lines that follow, I have tried to address the more troubling of these accusations.
Accusation: The stormwater system was removed by the Conservation Commission.
Fact: The stormwater system was not removed; invasive species on the periphery were removed.
Accusation: The integrity of the working stormwater system should not be sacrificed.
Fact: The integrity of the stormwater system has not been sacrificed. The earthworks have been protected from further deterioration by the continued growth of invasive species.
Accusation: Sprague’s Cove is a precious or valuable resource.
Fact: Sprague’s Cove is first and foremost an engineered stormwater remediation structure designed to protect the harbor from contamination. While Sprague’s Cove also provides other benefits, these are secondary to its designed function.
Accusation: The Conservation Commission did not preserve and protect natural open space.
Fact: Sprague’s Cove is not natural and it is not open space. It is an engineered stormwater remediation structure constructed in historic dredge spoils.
Accusation: Sprague’s Cove needs saving.
Fact: Sprague’s Cove needs to be saved from encroachment by invasive species through consistent maintenance. Prior to their removal, invasive species had destroyed the diversity of native vegetation that provided preferred habitat and wildlife food production.
Accusation: The clearing destroyed vegetation originally provided by contributions and grants.
Fact: The original vegetation was destroyed by the infestation of invasive species.
Accusation: The Conservation Commission destroyed a habitat used by turtles and waterfowl.
Fact: The original native vegetation had a secondary benefit creating habitat for turtles and birds. The Phragmites that replaced the native vegetation significantly reduced the habitat value.
Accusation: The Marion Open Space Acquisition Committee (MOSAC) has the experience and expertise to continue maintenance of invasive species.
Fact: The Chairman of MOSAC stated on Town Meeting floor that there was no point in treating invasive species – they will only grow back. While this may reflect only the viewpoint of its Chair, this position makes it difficult to accept the assertion that MOSAC would maintain Sprague’s Cove.
Accusation: The Conservation Commission is asking for $12,000 annually.
Fact: The Conservation Commission requested $12K for Sprague’s Cove and other parcels. It was not an annual request.
Accusation: The treatment of invasive species is pointless – they will only grow back.
Fact: I have not found any experts that support this assertion. Invasive species can be controlled by consistent maintenance, in much the way a garden requires regular weeding.
Like many people in Marion, I am concerned with the maintenance of the town’s character, most importantly the preservation of its open spaces, shoreline and wetlands. Maintenance almost always involves action. In this specific case, that action is the removal and control of aggressively invasive plant species. If unchecked these plants, none native to Marion, threaten to destroy our woods, our wetlands and in the case of Sprague’s Cove our engineered stormwater treatment structures.
Member, Marion Conservation Commission
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