Trash Free Malden River Counts!

By Karen Buck, Project Manager of Trash Free Malden River and President of the Friends of the Malden River

“Welcome to my office”, Karen Buck remarked to the City of Malden Councilors and Officials during a canoe tour. She smiled as she pointed to the multiple full trash bags lining the fence that separates the Malden City Yard from the Malden River.

City officials, Mystic River Watershed Association, Malden River Works, and Metropolitan Area Planning Council members meet at Buck’s office (a.k.a. the City Yard) before a canoe tour

Ms. Buck was pointing to bags of trash collected by volunteers for the Trash Free Malden River Project, funded by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET). By purchasing these specialty license plates, funding is procured to protect our coasts and waterways through local environmental groups. The Friends of the Malden River thanks the Massachusetts Environmental Trust for their one year grant financial support. The Mystic River Watershed Association provided valuable assistance to this project with ongoing administrative support and volunteers.

Caricature of Rocky Morrison, founder of Clean River Project

The MET grant of $9,805 will continue to support the Friends of the Malden River’s maintenance of the trash boom through June, 2020. The trash boom was donated by the Clean River Project (CRP) of the Merrimack River Valley. Neal Anderson, Malden City Ward 6 Councillor, and myself, Karen Buck, met Rocky Morrison, the founder of CRP, when we picked up the donated boom in Methuen. Morrison offered us a ride on his platoon. Not only did we have a tour of his cleanup sites, we met a woman who happened to be homeless and living on the shores of the Merrimack River. She was grateful not only to Morrison’s shoreline cleanups of homeless camps (funded by MET), but also for his supportive presence on the Merrimack River.

July 7, 2019: Photo of the newly installed trash boom. Look up the Malden River to see the large culverts. Most of Malden’s street stormwater drains flow into the Malden River through these culverts bringing street litter into the river.

The trash boom was installed on July 7, 2019. The boom spans the Malden River behind the 188-200 Commercial Street Plaza. This is just below huge culverts where the Malden River “daylights” (emerges from the underground storm water system). Most of Malden street stormwater drains empty through these large culverts. Street litter is pushed through the storm water system into the Malden River during every rain event.

The Trash Free Malden River initiative clears the trash boom of trash on a monthly basis and run volunteer Malden River Cleanup events below the trash boom. Volunteers separate and count the collections for data analysis after the monthly cleanups.

July 12, 2019: the newly installed trash boom did its job blocking trash from flowing down the river after a rain storm.
Malden Girls Scouts pitch in with
helpful hands

The Girl Scouts of Malden visited the Malden River for a Clean Water Badge. The Girl Scout motto: “Many hands make less work” prevailed during our monthly trash sorting adventure. Among the many items, they noted the huge amount of cigarette butts in the assortment. The Girl Scouts provided ideas including ash trays for public picnic tables along the river.

The YMCA leaders pitched in many hands as well! The group helped with the Canoe on the Malden River event on September 28th.

They enjoyed the event so much that they asked to paddle again on the river. On October 5th, not only did they have time to paddle, they collected more trash than what they could count. The outdoor club of Tufts University also participated in the cleanup pulling out heavy items out of the river including four car tires.

Members of the Malden Teen Enrichment Center (MTEC) are both dismayed and challenged by reducing trash in the city of Malden and in the Malden River. Twenty-one Malden High School/MTEC students gathered at a brainstorming session in November to organize actions to both educate the public and to reduce the amount of Malden’s street litter that flows through the street stormwater drains directly into the Malden River.

Members of Malden Teen Enrichment Center Summer program.

So, let’s do the math! The Trash Free Malden River recruited 74 volunteers who donated 316 hours! We collected 1,120 single use plastic bottles, 976 alcoholic “nips”, 57 pounds of dry polystrene (Styrofoam), and 300 pounds of miscellaneous trash out of the Malden River.

Meet Trash Free Malden River’s Pow, guardian of the trash boom.
Pow will not accept the street litter that pollutes the Malden River.

Some of this trash would have flowed down the Malden River into the Mystic River and may have continued into the Boston Harbor. Some of this trash would have been caught by the vegetation along the shoreline, disrupting the balance of nature. Without any cleanups, all of the plastic trash would have degraded into microplastics in the water, ruining our ecosystem and poisoning our environment. Microplastics harbor toxins and harmful bacteria.

What can we do to keep and protect our environment, especially our marine environment? We can and we need to create change in our daily lives and habits.

  • Refuse plastics and polystyrene (Styrofoam). Easy first steps include bringing your own reusable shopping bags. Nylon bags fit easily in your life. Usually, a local butcher will wrap meat or fish in wax coated paper and a plastic bag. But, that plastic bag can be used for containing trash properly disposed. Ask for paper containers for left-overs from restaurants. You can bring your own take home containers.
  • Reduce your waste by changing your habits. There are simple ways and more extensive efforts to create change. Use reusable containers for hot drinks. Use reusable bags for shopping vegetables and fruits. Every reduction makes a difference.
  • Recycle and compost properly. Review your city recycling policies. Plastic bags and polystrene (#6 Styrofoam) are not accepted in curbside recycling pickups. Clean white foam can be deposited inside the Save Your Stuff trailer at the City Yard. There are commercial composting companies that service Malden: Bootstrap Compost and Black Earth Compost
  • Keep your yard and local street storm water drain clean of all debris, especially trash. Leaves and dirt are also important to remove from the street storm water drains. These clog the drains and impede drainage. They also contain phosphates from inorganic fertilizers and poisons. Avoiding use of inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides also protect our environment from toxins. These toxins are flushed into our waterways via street storm water drains.

Have fun role-modeling. I have been working with youth for years with Efforts in Going Green. To be a good EGG, is rewarding. As Kermit the Frog sings: “When green is all there is to be; It could make you wonder why; But why wonder; why wonder; I’m Green it will do fine; It’s beautiful. And I think it is what I want to be”.

Malden Works receives Norman B. Leventhal Prize to improve access to the Malden River

The Steering Committee and Prize Team coordinated a successful public kick-off meeting for the Equitable Resiliency project on the Malden River. Over 90 people came to listen and to share their thoughts about our valuable gem. Please contact the to participate in this public process.

Neighborhood View

Malden River (Photo by Khalil Kaba)

By Kevin Perrington-Turner

A Malden urban coalition has won a prestigious $100,000 prize from the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that will be used to fund a two-year program of projects on the Malden River to create greater access to the river for Malden’s diverse population.

Malden Works for Waterfront Equity and Resilience, known as Malden Works, was named the winner of the first Norman B. Leventhal City Prize in September. Malden Works has formed a steering committee to ensure all communities are represented in upcoming projects.

The $100,000 triennial prize was established by the Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism to catalyze innovative, interdisciplinary urban design and planning approaches worldwide to improve both the environment and the quality of life for residents.

“The prize was a really difficult competitive event,” said Kathleen Mead Vandiver…

View original post 855 more words

The Massachusetts Environmental Trust awards Trash Free Malden River grant to the Friends

The Friends of the Malden River (FoMR) received a financial boost with a $9,805 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET/the Trust). This funding and in-kind services ($6,850) from Gentle Giant Rowing Club, PaddleBoston, Preotle, Lane and Associates, the National Park Service, Mystic River Watershed Association, and FoMR volunteers will help create a Trash Free Malden River.  FoMR also received a critical donation from the Clean River Project (Located on the Merrimack River in Methuen) of a trash boom that will help to restrain the trash from flowing from the municipal storm water systems into the Malden River and eventually into the Mystic River.  

Trash Boom donated to the FoMR from the Clean River Project of the Merrimack River in Methuen. Photo by Karen Buck July 11, 2019

According to Trust Program Director, Kim Tilas, the Trust will provide $471,512.00 in grants to 18 organizations, thanks to motorists who choose to purchase one of the Trust’s specialty license plates. “Trust plates, including our signature Whale Plate, are the only specialty plates that exclusively fund environmental initiatives,” said Tilas.”When you purchase a specialty plate for $100.00 from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the $40 specialty plate fee goes directly to the Trust to fund water-focused environmental programs.” 

“Funding from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust will enable us to create a trash free Malden River for the public and for our environment”, says Karen Buck of FoMR.  “Collaboration and educational modalities with the Cities of Malden, Everett, Medford, and Melrose, the Malden riverfront landowners, and the public is essential to reduce the amount of trash that flows into the Malden River. The benefits of trash reduction and retention will be evident and long lasting.” 

This trash flowed through our storm water system from the streets of Malden during the rainfall of July 12, 2019. Accumulation of rainfall was .64 inches – just over 1/2 inch.
Photo by Karen Buck

Supporting the environmental programs funded by the Trust in your community is easy: choose one of three environmental plates, the Right Whale & Roseate Terns, The Leaping Brook Trout, or the Blackstone Valley Mill when you purchase or lease a new car or renew your registration with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  Recently, Governor Baker announced a new plate, commemorating our Striped Bass (who follow the migration of our massively increased herring population up our rivers, thanks to the fish ladders installed on some of our dams).  

These license plates beat any bumper sticker!  Wear your plate proud and offset your automobile’s carbon output at the same time!  

The standard registration fee for a Massachusetts plate is $60.00. The special plate fee is an additional $40.00 (tax deductible every two years) for a total cost of $100. Every time you automatically renew your registration, the $40.00 goes to the Trust. 

Visit your local Registry of Motor Vehicles to order a plate online at or You can also visit us at to learn more about the Trust, the programs it supports, and the specialty license plate offerings.

Cruising and Cleaning the Malden River — Neighborhood View

, By Karen Buck Photos by Anne D’Urso Rose and Kelsey Menon On the eve of the 2018 Autumnal Equinox during the mystical moment of twilight, two launch boats from the Gentle Giants Rowing Club (GGRC), towed 10 canoes from the Blessing of the Bay up the Malden River. Aboard were Pastor Edwin Menon of Highrock […]

via Cruising and Cleaning the Malden River — Neighborhood View

Malden’s second “City Nature Challenge” takes place April 28 — Neighborhood View

Mother Nature is calling. Will you help her out? Do your part for biodiversity by participating in the second City Nature Challenge, a global contest for cities to compete for the highest number of natural observations within their regions. This Sunday, April 28, the Friends of the Malden River and the National Park Service of […]

via Malden’s second “City Nature Challenge” takes place April 28 — Neighborhood View

National Grid’s refusal to the Friends of the Malden River Motion to Participate

The Friends of the Malden River wrote this letter to the editors (ltte) of local papers to bring insight to National Grid’s refusal to have a community advocacy group participate in a motion.  National Grid is appealing  the Massachusett’s DEP’s decision  upholding NGrid’s Chapter 91 public responsibility for their 1100 plus feet of river bank frontage.  This is an important link for the Malden River Greenway and the Mystic River Greenway.

Chapter 91 is a Massachusetts General Law upholding the public’s right of access to tidal water bodies.  This includes all historical tidal properties.  Formerly tidal, the Malden River is subject to the public access rights of the state’s Public Waterfront Act. Many
riverfront properties are not in compliance, including National Grid’s

From the LTTE: “In a decision promulgated by the Department of Environment Protect this fall, National Grid was instructed to fully comply with the requirements of Chapter 91. DEP required that National Grid build and maintain a 10-foot wide half-mile waterfront path along its property situated in Malden and Everett. National Grid was required to submit a plan within one year and complete the building of the path within two years. The DEP decision had been a rebuke to National Grid’s proposal in 2016 to build a 100-foot path and bench on the north side of its Malden/Everett location with the remaining 2,000-plus feet of riverfront blocked off to the public.”

National Grid’s decision to appeal these requirements is being countered by the Conservation Law foundation and legal counsel from the cities of Malden, Medford and Everett. The denial of a seat at the table for Friends, resulting from National Grid’s challenge, demonstrates their lack of corporate and social responsibility. The decision sends a chilling message to those working to better one of our area’s most valuable resources. Those most concerned and affected by the degradation and unmitigated pollution of Malden River are not being allowed to voice the concerns and vision of a restored and improved Malden River.

The Friends of the Malden River are outraged at this decision. We seek only to have quality access for area residents to the banks of the river as required under law. Our community deserves this. We expect better examples of good corporate citizenship than the one recently on display by National Grid. Help us reach our goals by joining the Friends of the Malden River and voice your support by emailing Visit and “like” our Facebook page at Friends of the Malden River.”

This is the Malden Wicked Local site for the letter

 Letter to the editor

Monthly Meeting Dates/Events


Meeting dates are every second Monday of each month (6:30-8:00 PM):

June 10th (Monday) starting at 6:30 until 8:00 PM

July 8th (Monday) starting at 6:30 until 8:00 PM

August 12th (Monday) starting at 6:30 until 8:00 PM


We will be meeting at the Cambridge Health Alliance on 195 Canal Street, Malden in the Community Room (first floor to the left of the main lobby).

There is plenty of parking. Cambridge Health Alliance is right across the street from the Northern Strand Trail.  Enter the building via the large parking lot.







Here is an article recapitulating the comments: September 2nd issue of the Malden Advocate

Press Release of August 30, 2016:

MALDEN, Mass. – Friends of the Malden River (FoMR), a local advocacy group, is asking the state Department of Environmental Protection to require a Malden property owner to greatly improve its plans for a river path along the Malden River. Together with the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), the Friends of the Malden contend that Combined Properties’ plan to redevelop 295 Canal Street fail to meet regulatory requirements designed to promote active use of the Malden River shoreline.

In addition, the group is asking the state to require that an adjoining property, also owned by Combined Properties, be held to the same current regulations. The group bases its position on a Colonial Ordinance first enacted in 1641 and codified as a state statute in 1869, now known as Chapter 91.

In addition, the Friends argue that, because of anticipated use of the path, the increasedon-site parking of over 140 spaces, and the nearby busy intersection, a traffic study should be required to determine appropriate mitigation to ensure the safety of pedestrian, bike and physically challenged users.

Combined Properties, a regional real estate firm, plans to demolish the existing one-story building at 295 Canal Street and replace it with a five-story commercial enterprise. Chapter 91—the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act—requires public access along a quality riverfront path. Both MyRWA and FoMR seek to have the owner provide a 12-foot minimum right-of- way for accessibility, including benches, lighting, trash receptacles, signage, and landscaping.

The two organizations believe that, with a bit more thought and planning done incollaboration with MyRWA and FoMR, the Combined Properties project can be an excellent neighbor in a neighborhood thirsting to reconnect with its own river.

Friends of the Malden River is a grassroots group of community members—most of them residents of one of the three cities (Everett, Malden, and Medford) that ring the visible Malden River—who are deeply concerned about the ecological and recreational health of the river. FoMR’s mission is “to promote awareness of and interest in the Malden River, improve its water quality, and increase access for public enjoyment.”

Formed in 2012, the group is strongly committed to restoring the Malden River to, and preserving it as, a priceless community amenity and natural resource. For more information about the Friends, visit or email

The Mystic River Watershed Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1972 by a group of concerned community residents. MyRWA’s mission is to (i) protect the Mystic River Watershed, (ii) restore and maintain clean water and the natural environment in a healthy state in the Mystic basin’s 22 communities, and (iii) promote responsible stewardship of our natural resources through educational initiatives in the watershed. MyRWA accomplishes its mission by forging strong links with citizens’ groups, universities, businesses, and government agencies.

DCR collects public comments on MacDonald Park improvements

The Department of Conservation and Recreation presented their ideas for long awaited improvements for the MacDonald park that borders the Mystic River in Medford.  This is the largest green space along the Mystic River that spans from the intersection of Routes 28 and Routes 16 beyond the Meadow Glen Mall.  You can see the green space wrapping around the river west of the Malden River.

Mystic River Urban Trail Map


The Mystic River Watershed Association collected public comments through a survey and presented them to the DCR in letter form.  The Friends of the Malden River also commented upon their vision for the park via a letter to the DCR.

Both letters are linked below.  Please feel free to comment via our facebook page: Friends of the Malden River.  Thank you for participating.  We will keep the public informed of this important piece of the Mystic River Greenways!

MacDonald Park Upgrade – FoMR Comments – 5-26-16 –


MyRWA Comments to DCR – Macdonald Park – 5-2016


DCR presentation for MacDonald park improvements

Rain Garden Rejuvenation – April 23rd at West and Wellington

Let’s bring new life to the established rain garden at the Everett tail end of the Northern Strand Trail.  This rain garden diverts storm water runoff from our Mystic River.  We will learn the importance of rain gardens from Clay Larson who first helped to establish this garden through a grant provided by Mystic River Watershed Association.  Clay spoke at our last meeting about rain gardens.  Now we can get dirty!

The Friends of the Malden River will be maintaining this garden as part of our community efforts to protect our watershed through public education and involvement.  We will glean as a group the actual and the potential benefits of rain gardens.

We are accepting donations of native and hardy plants to enrich this garden.  You may bring your plant to share!  Tools will be provided.  Wear long sleeves and long pants and other protective clothing (gloves, hats, boots) for more adventurous cleanup, if you like!

Looking forward to seeing you there.  Please contact us at for any questions or concerns.  You can visit our facebook page for updates:  Friends of the Malden River