Boston Natural Areas Network, organized in 1977, works to preserve, expand and improve urban open space through community organizing, acquisition, ownership, programming, development and management of special kinds of urban land - Urban Wilds, Greenways and Community Gardens. In all of its endeavors, BNAN is guided by local citizens advocating for their open spaces and assisting them to preserve and shape their communities.
Forging effective partnerships has been a hallmark of BNANís work since inception. BNAN brings community groups, public agencies, non-profit organizations and businesses together to develop common visions and to combine resources for the protection and expansion of urban open spaces, particularly Urban Wilds, Greenways and Community Gardens.
Growing BNAN: In 1977, concerned citizens created BNAN to protect from potential loss a special collection of natural lands, the Urban Wilds, across the City of Boston. A report by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) identified 143 sites, collectively representing thousands of acres and containing the Cityís natural, topographical, and cultural heritage. Working in collaboration with partners, BNAN is proud that 831 acres of Urban Wilds have been protected and are publicly accessible as of 2006. Work continues in protecting Urban Wilds and in the effort to provide stewardship for Wilds after they are legally preserved. BNAN will launch a new Urban Wilds website based on its recent survey of Wilds, the most comprehensive ever undertaken on Bostonís unprotected natural land.
In 1982, BNAN began its work in the protection, creation, and management of Community Gardens in Bostonís poorest and most densely built neighborhoods. BNAN helps communities plan for gardens, acquires property, designs and manages initial capital improvements, and oversees ongoing management. With the merge of Garden Futures in 2002, a small nonprofit organization that offered services to community gardens, BNAN has become the voice of Community Gardens in Boston. Now, in addition to working with community gardeners to support the management and maintenance of the 40 community gardens that BNAN owns or holds leases, BNAN provides organizational support to over 150 community gardens and more than 10,000 people who garden in the metropolitan Boston area.
In 1992, BNAN developed a new approach to the protection and stewardship of the Urban Wilds by focusing on the opportunity to connect protected and at risk Urban Wilds with existing public parks and abandoned industrial land to create new linear open space systems: Greenways. The Greenways to Boston Harbor Project: Neponset River Greenway and East Boston Greenway represents 20 Urban Wilds in Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and East Boston. When completed, the Neponset River Greenway, which includes 17 Urban Wilds, will be a ten-mile pedestrian/bike trail from the mouth of the Neponset River to the 5,800-acre Blue Hills Reservation, providing access to the largest open space within 35 miles of Boston. The East Boston Greenway will create a new linear park along an abandoned railroad right-of-way, connecting neglected portions of the historic waterfront from Piers Park to the new Bremen Street Park, Memorial Stadium, Constitution Beach, and three Urban Wilds. The East Boston Greenway will add 12 acres of new parkland and a 3.3-mile pedestrian/bike trail through East Boston. BNANís Greenways are long-term projects. To date three miles of the Neponset River Greenway and over 80 acres of new parks has been completed by The MA Department of Conservation and Recreation. In East Boston, the first half mile of Greenway has been built by the Boston parks and Recreation Department. In 2007, the Mass. Turnpike Authority will open the second half mile together with the new Bremen St Park. BNAN is continuing to work with community and public partners to see both Greenways completed.
In recognition of its growth and expanded work, in 2001, the organizationís name was updated to Boston Natural Areas Network. In the last ten years, BNANís staff and the annual budget have grown five fold. In recognition of the growing demands and responsibilities that rest with the organization, BNAN became an affiliate of the Trustees of Reservations in 2006. The Trustees of Reservations is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving properties of scenic, historic, and ecological value throughout Massachusetts. The affiliation of a state-wide and city-wide organization will bring unprecedented conservation capacity and create a new paradigm for how such work is done in the City of Boston and in Massachusetts; bringing together the complementary strengths of each organization.
To learn more about BNAN staff please click here.
BNAN offers many Volunteer opportunities. Environmental education programs, special events, exhibits and publications are some of the ways BNAN builds an informed and enthusiastic constituency for urban open space.
BNAN is supported by individuals, so please JOIN today.
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Boston Natural Areas Network
62 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02110-1016