Development patterns have placed New England's rolling landscape at risk according to a new study that has come out of Clark University and examined Marlborough.
"New England is renowned for the beauty of its landscapes and the fall color we all enjoy so much," said Clark University geography researcher Deborah Woodcock. "It certainly won’t be the same if we flatten all our hills.”
The drumlin — the low rolling hills that were formed by glaciers and have come to characterize New England — have been greatly impacted by development, according to the study. Marlborough has a 40B project in the works and another development on 100 acres of land that is set to appear before the City Council.
“(Drumlins) are being leveled in some cases and cut into, leaving steep cut slopes, in other cases," said Woodcock. "At all the larger excavation sites, there were stormwater and wetlands infractions resulting in enforcement actions and fines in many cases."
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Clark researchers carried out a comprehensive ground-based survey in a three-town area of Hudson, Marlboro and Stow with the goals of establishing the extent to which drumlins have been altered and assessing the associated environmental consequences.
The development projects associated with drumlin modification include single-family housing, multifamily housing, corporate office buildings, and retail developments. The extensive excavations at Indian Head and Hager hills in Marlborough and Potash Hill in Hudson involved removal of large amounts of material.
The findings of the study “Accelerating Anthropogenic Land Surface Change: The Example of Drumlin Alteration and Loss in Southern New England” are slated for publication in the Oct. 9 issue of “PLOS ONE,” an open-access journal that publishes rigorous science research.