The Great Park Pursuit is On!

Join the Great Park Pursuit at any Massachusetts state park, including the Charles River Reservation. Image via MassDCR.

Join the Great Park Pursuit at any Massachusetts state park, including the Charles River Reservation. Image via MassDCR.

Spend the summer outdoors with your family at the Great Park Pursuit! This summer-long event is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style team exploration of Massachusetts’ state parks, from Bash Bish Falls to Halibut Point. All you have to do is check out either the DCR’s state park maps or its calendar of events, pick six to attend, photograph yourself at a park with the Great Park Pursuit squirrel, and post it to your team’s homepage. To get started, go here, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the registration link.

The Great Park Pursuit squirrel. Image via MassDCR.

The Great Park Pursuit squirrel. Image via MassDCR.

There is one catch: all teams must include at least one adult and at least one person under 18. The event begins today, but your registration isn’t due until August 21. Teams that make at least six trips to DCR parks or events (and snap a photo of themselves with the Great Park Pursuit squirrel!) will be invited to the Grand Finale Celebration at Otter River State Forest in Baldwinville on Saturday, August 24, from 12pm-4pm.

Just to be clear, there are no real rules about what your personal Great Park Pursuit looks like—climbing Mount Greylock counts the same as watching “Wreck It Ralph” at the Hatch Shell. Attend or visit any combination of parks and DCR events and post a photo of yourself with the Great Park Pursuit squirrel, and you’ll be invited to the Grand Finale in August. If you have any questions, please contact the DCR Great Park Pursuit Team via email at parks.pursuit@state.ma.us or by telephone at 617-626-1450.

Spring Cleaning in the Park This April 20—Sign Up Today!

A map of DCR parks on the Charles. Come lend a helping hand on Park Serve Day, this April 20.

A map of DCR parks on the Charles. Come lend a helping hand on Park Serve Day, this April 20. Image via DCR.

After a long, snowy winter, the first green shoots of spring are starting to pop up. In homes across the Commonwealth, families are shaking off the cobwebs, throwing open their windows, and welcoming the return of sunnier days. And just as families are planning for spring cleaning, so is the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

This April 20 marks the sixth annual Park Serve Day, a chance for people of all ages to pitch in around the Commonwealth’s parks. The DCR maintains more than 440,000 acres of public parkland, and they need your help to plant flowerbeds, trim shrubs, remove downed trees, repair trails, and much, much more. Last year, almost 4,800 people came out to volunteer their time and their sweat, and this year, I know we can do even better.

Sign up to volunteer for the Commonwealth’s sixth annual Park Serve Day here. Each park and beach is different, and each DCR park has different needs; you can find a list of the Park Serve activities for each park here. The majority of Cambridge’s Charles River shoreline is DCR property, so you don’t have to travel far to lend a helping hand. Do the right thing and help make our parks the best they’ve ever been.

Charles River Dam Locks Closed Starting Tomorrow

Charles River Dam Locks closed until December 12

The Charles River Dam Locks will be closed to pedestrian, bicycle, and boat traffic until December 12. Image via Flickr.

The Charles River Dam locks will be closed to pedestrian traffic beginning tomorrow at 7am. The Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced that work will continue on the locks until 4pm on Wednesday, December 12.

The locks serve as a popular conduit for joggers, cyclists and pedestrians crossing between Cambridge and Boston. Pedestrians who wish to cross the mouth of the Charles are advised to use the North Washington St. bridge or the Craigie Bridge.

The locks are being closed for routine maintenance and repair. This is a continuation of the work done on the nearby commerical locks, and part of DCR’s ongoing upkeep of a vital piece of infrastructure. So, if your favorite walking, running or cycling route includes a quick trip to the North End, be sure to map out a different path until Wednesday, December 12.

DCR Matching Funds Program Now Accepting Applications

The Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced its Partnership Matching Funds program for 2013. These grants are a great way to leverage local enthusiasm for a particular environmental project, and I encourage anyone with a passion for the environment to come up with a project and apply. To be eligible, projects must improve existing DCR-owned land and applications must be received by December 7, 2012.

No project is too small, as the DCR’s program allows projects under $25,000 to be matched at up to a 2:1 ratio. Past projects have included purchasing bike racks for a community boathouse in Boston, redesigning pedestrian crossings near Jamaica Pond, and installing new lights on a footbridge crossing the Charles in Cambridge.

This program is particularly well-suited to local businesses that want to put on a day of service. The Partnership Matching Funds do not cover in-kind contributions, so if your business is already planning to give back, this is a great way to get the most bang for your buck.

DCR’s crews worked around the clock in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Let’s show them how much our parks and green spaces mean to all of us.

Charles River Skatepark Designs Unveiled

Artist's rendering of new Charles River Skatepark

An artist’s rendering of the new Charles River Skatepark. When completed, the park will be the largest in New England. Photo courtesy of ASD/Santec and Charles River Conservancy.

As reported by the Beacon Hill Times, the latest plans for the largest skatepark in New England were recently unveiled. The new, 40,000-square-foot Charles River Skatepark  represents a group effort by the Charles River Conservancy, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Action Sports Design/Santec, a California-based company that specializes in the construction of skateparks.

This project has been a longtime coming, and it’s part of our plan to reclaim and beautify the Charles River and connect the Cambridge waterfront with Charlestown. I’m thrilled that yet another milestone has been passed.

Have you been to the new North Point Park yet? If not, get out and enjoy this amazing fall weather!