Thursday, February 18, 2010

Revere DCR offers beach program

REVERE - The Department of Conservation and Recreation is working to get families into the fresh air and off to the various state parks throughout Massachusetts, even if it means spending an hour in February's 35-degree weather on Revere Beach.

On Wednesday, Matthew Nash, the northern region visitor services supervisor for the Division of Urban Parks and Recreation, rolled a box of props onto the sand for DCR's Beach Discovery program, which is a part of February Vacation at Revere Beach.

"The program is on the ecology of the beach and also the need to keep it clean," Nash said. "That's an important message we convey in that it's a home for animals and it needs to be kept clean. We are going to be learning about the animals that live in the sand on the beach and come to the beach like the various gulls, animals with shells, like the surf clam, and the animals like a rock clam that actually have a life under the sand on the beach that we're walking on. We won't be digging up the sand disturbing them, we'll be looking for the shells that are left on the beach."

The DCR started the No Child Left Inside initiative hoping to encourage Massachusetts residents and visitors to enjoy the recreational resources and outdoor activities in the state parks from Cape Cod to Boston and the Berkshire Hills. They frequently offer free programs that are open to the public, schools and non-profit groups alike.

"It's important because we have generations now that are inside with computers not getting adequate exercise for health so it's a campaign to get people outside to enjoy the parks and get proper exercise for their health," Nash said.

There were five participants in Wednesday's Beach Discovery program, including Anna Colligan of Boston and her sons Kao Moy, 6, and Ezra Moy, 3.

Colligan said she "just (wanted) to get outside and learn about some local nature."

Nash gave lessons on the surf and razor clams, showing the children the shells and asking them to find their own, or pieces of the shells, on the beach. He talked about the ring billed seagull that sat on the sand beside what he believed to be a herring seagull and moved on to discuss the shells of the crabs he found, including lady and rock crabs. He also found a shell that once belonged to the invasive green crab, which he said is not native to the U.S. and feeds on the clams and oysters our fishermen hope to catch and sell.

Maylin Canales, 6, of Chelsea said that she learned a lot about crabs and clams, but her favorite part was playing the game of tag.

After the game, Nash told the kids why it is important to keep the beach clean, explaining that seals can get tangled in ropes and strings and that turtles could confuse plastic bottles with food. He asked what they should do with their bottles when they go on beach picnics, and Kao Moy said they should recycle.

The kids left with passports that allow them to get stamps at each park they visit and Canales' mother, Holly Brooksbank, said it is a good program.

"I like to get my daughter outside and I believe that anything to do with learning is very good for any child and it was very informative today," she said, adding she plans to take Canales to the Bird Discovery program as well as to the Beach Campfire on Friday for some toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate.

The program continues today with a Bird Discovery event from 11-noon and the Beach Campfire on Friday runs from 6-8 p.m. Participants will gather at the Reinstein Bandstand on Revere Beach Boulevard (cross streets are Shirley Avenue and Beach Street) for each of these programs.

Cleanup at the Willis Fishing Pier will take place on Feb. 28 from 2-4 p.m. Participants will meet near the 'jug-handle' turn-around, northbound side of the Lynnway, just north of the General Edwards Bridge in Lynn. For GPS users, the address is 810 Lynnway, Lynn.

For a list of other events throughout the state, visit the Department of Conservation and Recreation online