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Introduction to Danger in the Reeds
with State Senator Bruce Tarr

Danger in the Reeds is a video series about the invasive reed, Phragmites australis.
In most of the segments we feature members of a task force created by Geoff Walker and Peter Phippen in 2010. The task force has been instrumental in coordinating the efforts of over 40 agencies, nonprofits, academic entities, municipal, private organizations all interested in the health of the Great Marsh.

State Senator Bruce Tarr, a key member of this task force, recorded the introduction to "Danger in the Reeds" on October 16th. The Senator recalls the task force's history, key members and urges communities in other regions of the country to follow this successful model in dealing with the problem of Phragmites.

Session Date Rough Edit Transcript Tight Edit Youtube Posting
10/19/13 12/02/13 12/06/13 12/28/13 1/17/14

State Senator Bruce Tarr, Peter Phippen and Geoff Walker after video session introducing Danger in the Reeds
From left to right: State Senator Bruce Tarr, Peter Phippen and Geoff Walker.

Hi, I’m State Senator Bruce Tarr. I’m the minority leader of the Massachusetts State Senate and my home town is Gloucester. I have the honor of representing 17 communities in the northeastern part of Massachusetts. I’m also honored to be the co-chair of the Great Marsh Revitalization Task Force – a truly grass-roots organization that’s comprised of all the stake holders in restoring beautiful places, like Joppa Flats over my shoulder, to the nature that they should have. And, a lot of that involves eradicating the Phragmites plant because Phragmites is a problem all across our state and it’s well known to coastal communities. But, up until now, there hasn’t been a focused, comprehensive effort to try to address it. That’s what’s so special about this Task Force, the fact that stakeholders came together and decided that in a comprehensive, coordinated way, we would find solutions to an invasive plant that has been plaguing us for decades. And so far, there’s a lot of progress to report. One of the key elements to this entire project has been understanding exactly how to address all of the problem, so that we address migration, so that we isolate intensive stands and we make sure that we’re able to say to all of our partners, that you’re part of something meaningful that’s going to deliver lasting results as opposed to one-time fixes.

One of the great things about the Great Marsh Revitalization Task Force is that it capitalized on the efforts of volunteers. And, two of the most critical people in that category are certainly Peter Phippen and Geoff Walker. For years, these two men have been working in the Great Marsh trying to understand problems and address issues one at a time. They decided we needed to do something more. And so they came together and said how can we put together a task force that’ll involve all of the stakeholders. But, before they did that, they did a lot of work.

And, along the way, they’ve certainly been the staff to this task force and they have been its backbone. Every single day, they work to carry out the mission of the Task Force. They’ve got a lot of help, and they’ve integrated with a lot of different people, but the one thread of consistency in this Task Force has been the work of Peter Phippen and Geoff Walker. I can’t say enough about them. I know you’re going to hear more about them later, but for right now, let me just suggest that they were the genesis and they are the backbone of the Great Marsh Revitalization Task Force.

One of the great things about the Great Marsh Revitalization Task Force is that it creates a model for cooperative work that can be followed in other places and in other states. We learned that very well in Massachusetts, where too often, we had state agencies, federal agencies, individual, non-government organizations all working to solve the same problem, but without the kind of communication that could make them far more productive. And, that’s why what we’re creating here is not just a set of solutions for the Great Marsh and Joppa Flats, but a set of solutions that can be used, and a process that can be used, in other places. What do I mean by that? Well, quite frankly, we don’t do ourselves any good if people are working in individual silos. So, having all of the stakeholders at the table are important. Yes, that does mean regulators. It means folks like we’ve used here in Massachusetts in our task force, like the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. It means having our federal colleagues involved. It means discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers, the folks from the Department of the Interior and the Wildlife Refuge. It means having local officials – selectmen, town administrators, conservation agents, all of the people that in one way or another touch the projects that we want to undertake. Why is that important? Because, frankly, if we don’t have them at the table, we’re going to have to address these issues time and again, one at a time with each of these individuals sequentially. Why not put them at the table. Now granted, we have robust discussions, and we have folks at that table that have a wide array of knowledge, like folks in academia. They can share that knowledge with the people working on the ground, like Peter and Geoff, and we can all come together and agree.

We haven’t talked so much about the other players. One of the critical elements of the Task Force has been the leadership that’s come from state officials. So, for instance, the Legislative delegation: Senator Steve Baddour succeeded on the Task Force by Katie O’Connor Ives, State Representative Mike Costello, State Representative Lenny Mirra, State Representative Harriett Stanley, all working together across party lines for the common goal of addressing this environmental issue. Beyond that, we’ve had tremendous participation by folks who are really invested in the process, and you’re going to hear from a lot of them along the way, but note carefully that they sound a common theme, whether they are from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Environmental Protection, our folks from the Department of Interior and the Wildlife Service. Whomever speaks to you is going to tell you about one thing, the fact that they’re invested in a project that’s larger than any one agency, and that’s not only true of state agencies, it’s true of federal agencies and it’s true of local agencies.

So, listen carefully as you see the personalities, the individuals, the expertise. They’ve all got something special to say. We’re going to let them say it to you directly, but bear in mind that they are part of a fabric that’s been woven together by common interest of doing the right thing for our great marshes and addressing the Phragmites problem which, all too often, is something that folks throw up their hands and say it simply can’t be confronted. The folks that are going to speak to you actually prove that it can be.

By watching Danger in the Reeds we hope you’re going to have a greater appreciation of how a group of committed individuals, regardless of where they come from, from a prospective, can come together and address a sensitive environmental issue. You’re going to hear form folks that are incredibly dedicated to that, and you’re going to hear about a process that can integrate different perspectives to a common goal and productive results. So, I hope you enjoy this video and I hope you enjoy learning more about the Great Marsh Revitalization Task Force, and we’re particularly appreciative that you’ve taken the time to watch Danger in the Reeds. It’s a documentary that gives us all a lot to think about, and once we think about it, a lot to do. Thanks again for watching and we look forward to working with you again soon.

Richard Hydren recording video session on October 16.
Robert Buchsbaum sits under the Easy-Up used to block wind and direct sun during video sessions. Thanks to Brea and Robert for this photo.

Danger in the Reeds is being produced by Staddles Productions
with the help of Dr Gregg Moore, Peter Phippen and Geoff Walker.

We would all like to express our graditude to our many Kickstarter supporters
without whom this project would not be possible.

Rick Hydren  ~ Office: 978-948-3346, Cell: 508-954-1298
PO Box 715, Rowley MA 01969


Portrait Photography ~ Real Estate Photography