Young Environmentalist Saves Massachusetts Wetlands Area

Twelve-year-old Andrew Holleman galvanized his hometown to keep a land developer from building condominiums in nearby wetlands.

| March/April 1990

Chelmsford, MA—“Mom, I've got to go to the library. Can you drive me?” That was the first thing I said after I read a registered letter that my parents got. It concerned the development of land near my home and stated that a meeting about it would be held at the town hall.

It made me mad. "How could this be happening?" I asked myself. I knew these woods—I had loved, studied, explored them; I practically grew up there. Now an $11 million, 180-unit condominium complex was going to be built on one privately owned parcel (sandwiched between two pieces of preserved conservation land). That parcel was almost half wetlands. It contained wood turtles, blue-spotted salamanders (both declining species rated "of special concern" by wildlife authorities), great blue herons, various hawks, lady's slippers, and mountain laurel.

I was angry because this beautiful piece of land and wildlife habitat was about to be destroyed. Weren't people aware of their environment after being informed every day from so many sources that our world is at stake?

I also had so many memories based in that area. When I was very young, I took nature walks there with my family and even remember having a winter picnic in the snow by a stream with them. Later, when I was older, I went there with my friend on our own nature walks or to go ice-skating on a pond in the woods.

Now I go there to sit and think for hours on end. There are times I just sit and watch the deer, fox, and other animals. I go fishing sometimes in the ice-skating pond and have caught a 12-inch bass (this is not a fish story).

I guess I was just plain angry that "my land" was going to be destroyed and that it was one more insult to the environment. I had to do something.

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