Welcome Friends of Harold Parker

e are a non-profit organization formed to support the Harold Parker State Forest. Be sure to join our email list and follow us on Facebook to keep in touch. If you're already on the list, but did not receive the October newsletter, be sure to add fohp@friendsofharoldparker.org to your email address book.

Upcoming Events

Park Clean-up Day
Sunday, Feburary 5, 2017 at 10am
Our February clean-up day will take place along Harold Parker Rd. Meet at 10am at the fish house parking area between Field Pond and Collins Pond on Harold Parker Rd in Andover. (map) Bring work gloves.

Snow cover will cancel this event! Check here or Facebook for updates or changes due to weather.


Field Pond Weed Project Needs Your Help!

Many of you may have heard about the controversy over using herbicides in Field Pond to control infestations of fanwort and variable milfoil in the pond. The Friends of Harold Parker Board is opposed to these treatments, but we were unsuccessful in persuading DCR to consider alternative methods. In May of this year, the Andover Conservation Commission approved the treatment plan. Because of concern over how the treatments might affect private wells along Harold Parker Road, some individual homeowners filed an appeal with the Department of Environmental Protection. As a result, there was no herbicidal treatment this summer.

Meanwhile, we have learned of other lakes where similar infestations have been successfully managed through a program of hand pulling. While this may seem a rather slow and tedious way of addressing the problem, hand pulling has worked in lakes far larger than Field Pond. Once the weeds are brought under control, keeping these invasive aquatic plants from spreading further is manageable with regular maintenance (and vigilant oversight!)

The DEP appeal has now been settled and the Friends are launching a major effort to demonstrate that hand pulling can work in Field Pond. The terms of the settlement are: if, by mid-November, we can clear the weeds at a rate that shows the pond could be completely cleared by working through the 2017 season, DCR will not use herbicides next spring and will allow the hand pulling program to continue. If we are not able to pull enough weeds in the next two months, they will treat the pond in the spring of 2017 to knock the weeds back to a level where hand pulling alone could be used to maintain the pond.

We are seeking volunteers—individuals, families, clubs, scouts and other groups—to help with this effort. Time is short, but the lake is quite low and we can reach a lot of the weeds from shore. Some FOHP Board members have received training from DCR and have tried various techniques already. There are a variety of tasks to complete the process:

Clearing the shoreline

There is a lot of debris along the shoreline and moving it back from the water’s edge makes hauling out the weeds much easier.

Raking the weeds

We have a couple of lake rakes that effectively pull the weeds out by the roots. We need people to wade in and rake the weeds up onto the shore to dry out.

Collecting dried weeds

We need people to move those piles to higher ground so they do not get back into the pond.

Skimming for fragments

The plants spread by fragmentation. Skimming is done with nets—from shore and from a canoe or kayak.

Scouting for missed plants

Wade in and collect individual plants in mesh diver bags.

Certified scuba divers

Perform the same job in areas too deep to reach by wading in.

If you'd like to get involved, we are planning work parties on Saturdays and Sundays starting this weekend on Sunday the 18th through November 13th. Please let us know your availability for mornings (10 am) and/or afternoons (2 pm). Whether you can come just once, for a few hours, or can make a weekly commitment, your participation will be valuable. We will provide equipment and training and a Board member will be on site to help and answer questions. Contact us at info@friendsofharoldparker.org.

Field Pond Foray



The heat relented and we had a beautiful summer day for our July walk around Field Pond. Guided by Harvard botanist and FOHP board member Walter Kittredge, we set out on a trail perfumed by the sweet pepper bushes that lined it. As we followed the edge of the pond we saw turtles basking and learned they do so to keep algae from building up on their shells. We observed all sorts of wildflowers and plants including blueberries, huckleberries, teaberries and dewberries. Walter spotted  invasive purple loosestrife, but told us that a beetle has been found that is a very successful natural control for managing it. We saw a small patch of lady slippers and learned how fire actually helps them to bloom by fertilizing them with ash and increasing sunlight. We also got the latest news on the discovery of a missing link in the symbiotic formation of lichens!

All around the pond we had a breeze cooling us and saw others enjoying the day, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and biking. We rounded the far end and walked along the earthen dam built by the CCC, only to see that the catch basins they used for harvesting fish were completely obscured by invasive buckthorn, another thing we could use volunteer help to clear away.

The goldenrod we saw blooming there was a reminder that fall is not that far off. There's still plenty of time to get out and enjoy what's left of summer. Field Pond is one of 11 ponds in Harold Parker, so there's plenty of shoreline to explore. Don't forget you can now cool off with a swim in Berry Pond after your hike! Check the website for details on the next FOHP monthly hike.

Berry Pond Open for the Summer

Hours are 10am - 6pm, seven days a week, with lifeguards on duty. The day-use fee is $8 per car. There are newly refurbished changing rooms, and about a dozen picnic tables and charcoal grills for anyone to use.

On June 16th The Friends of Harold Parker were honored by a visit from DCR Commissioner Leo Roy,  accompanied by Regional Director Susan Hamilton. Harold Parker staff members Tom Walsh, Peter Luongo and FOHP board members had a wide ranging conversation about many issues concerning the forest. We talked about improving maps of the forest so they include trails that continue on to other conservation lands.  Also having better signage, marking loop trails and improving accessibility. We discussed how to discourage use of unauthorized trails. Another topic was safety at road crossings.

We then made a site visit to see all the work that's been done to ready Berry Pond for opening. We discussed various fund raising ideas we had. The Commissioner stressed to us that the DCR is counting on FOHP for help. DCR will be facing more cuts in 2017. He stressed that support from Friends groups is essential to ensure the state's forests and parks are well maintained. He told us DCR has Trust accounts to ensure that money we raise goes directly to HPSF.  It is important to know that parking and camping fees collected do not go back to HPSF, they go into the general fund.

We ended the visit at the Collins Pond parking lot to show Commissioner Roy where we hope to install a kiosk soon. We talked about our idea of building a viewing platform on the remains of the fish hatchery and our hopes for repairing the Collins Pond dam. Bottom line is: if we want to see these things happen, if we want Berry Pond remain open, if we want better trail markings, it is going to take a team effort and all of us in the community have got to be part of it!  Click here to donate today!

Park Serve Day at Berry Pond

Full of enthusiaum for the long awaited re-opening of Berry Pond in June, 32 volunteers turned up on April 30 to help DCR staff get the area in shape. They dug out weeds from the planting beds, planted trees, shrubs and ground cover and spread mulch. They raked and swept paths, trimmed back over growth and pulled invasive plants. The transformation was remarkable. Our thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work and to Starbucks for donating some goodies to fortify us.

Centennial Success!

A THOUSAND people turned out on a spectacular day for Harold Parker's 100th birthday. Our thanks to all who came out to help us celebrate. Even though we ran out of  hot dogs at one point everyone had a great time. The cherry on the cake of the day was when DCR Commissioner Leo Roy announced that Berry Pond would be open for swimming again in 2016! This has only happened because the Friends have pledged to do all they can to help DCR pay for staffing it. If you're happy about swimming at Berry Pond again please show your appreciation and donate today!


Campground events with the park interpreter are now taking place! All are welcome!


We Walk the Woods

Every Wednesday Morning 10am - 12pm

Exercise, along with a good night’s sleep can increase serotonin, giving a sense of well being.  Combine these two at beautiful Harold Parker State Forest every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. – meet at the headquarters building, 304 Middleton Rd.  This is a moderately paced walk appropriate for all ages.  Wear walking footwear; bring water and sunscreen as appropriate.

New in the Harold Parker Blog

No one ever comes to this small piece of Parker Forest wedged between houses... read more


Park Interpreter Honored

All the Friends of Harold Parker want to congratulate Harold Parker's Park Interpreter, Jason Moreira for being honored as a DCR Friend of the Year at the recent Mass Forest and Parks Friends Network Conference held in Upton on Dec. 5th. 

The theme of this year's conference was “What are Friends For?” and this past year Jason has proved himself to be a wonderful friend of the forest and of FOHP.  As many of you know, Jason's predecessor, our beloved Park Interpreter, Bob Anderson,  was a tireless promoter of the Friends and some of us feared the group might not survive without him. But Jason stepped right up to the task and, in addition to all his regular duties, attended all our meetings, helped out at our work parties, turned up at every event we sponsored, both in and out of the forest, and served as our liaison with forest staff and DCR.

As Board member Beth Thomson wrote : 

The Friends of Harold Parker chose to nominate Jason because he is a model for the personnel needed to protect our State Forests.
He is an active educator, experienced manager and persistent spokesperson for the preservation of wildlife and the state forests. He is undaunted by the new and unknown; he continues to work toward greater understanding and problem resolution. 

Thank you Jason! We look forward to seeing you next year.

Fishing Derby a Success

The Friends are working hard to increase our visibility. On September 12th we participated in the 28th annual Fishing Festival at Sudden Pond. An estimated 160 people turned out on perfect late summer Saturday. We also showed off our brand new pop up tent (donated by a generous Friend) and display at North Reading's Apple Festival on Sept. 19th. We  talked to a lot of people about our group and all we want to accomplish in Harold Parker Forest. Many people signed our email list and took one of our beautiful new brochures, as well as our sample letter advocating for Berry Pond to be reopened in 2016. We hope everyone will write to their local reps and urge them to get the funds needed to staff the pond.  All in all we collected over 30 new emails to add to our mailing list and $130 in cash donations.


Our most recent event was a our Park Serve Day Cleanup on April 25, 2015. Twenty-four volunteers collected 17 big bags of trash from the ponds and surrounding area.  Thanks to everyone who came out to help!

Collins Pond


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