Who's the Bossi? Wellesley's new chief tree hugger

wellesley duck pond july 2008

Adam Bossi recently joined the town as Conservation Administrator. We caught up with him to find out how he’s going to help save the planet, starting with Wellesley.

What are your hopes/dreams in this new job?

My friends joke that I’m “the guy who hugs trees for ‘the man'”. In a way, I suppose it’s true!

There are a lot of reasons why I choose to work in environmental protection – the biggest is that I find the interactions between people and places/man and nature to be very interesting. Since the industrial revolution, people have been able to greatly impact the landscape and natural systems at a speed and scale not possible without mechanization and the development of lots of “helpful” chemical compounds. In recent decades, advancements in our understanding of the world’s ecology have shown that many of the great things people learned to do had and continue to have negative impacts on natural systems and the environment as a whole. I believe that with our improved (and constantly improving) understanding of ecology and better understanding of the impacts of our actions on them, we should be making the best decisions possible in terms of why and how we alter the landscape.

My role as the Conservation Administrator for the Town is to ensure that the Wetlands Protection Act, a state law, and Town Bylaw for Wetlands Protection are adhered to when projects are proposed to alter the existing landscape near wetlands, rivers, lakes and other sensitive natural areas. These areas provide a number of functions that are important to human health and safety and the overall health of the local environment. As far as hopes and dreams with this job, it is my hope to do the best job I can to protect these areas to the maximum extent possible in accordance with the laws.

I’m excited to be doing this work in Wellesley. I really value the public benefit that my job provides and in Wellesley, the public is very concerned and in touch with environmental issues. Residents elected a Natural Resources Commission (NRC) who, among many great things, has implemented a town-wide pesticide-free approach to managing parklands, playing fields, etc. Most town’s do not have such a board. It’s progressive and a model for other towns to look at.

I understand you were doing something similar in Lexington, but could you clarify what you were doing previously and highlight the project you worked on there that you were most proud of?

My title in Lexington was the Conservation Assistant. My role there was very similar to here but had broader responsibilities in terms of managing that town’s expansive network of conservation lands. Here in Wellesley, land management issues are addressed primarily by the NRC and DPW. There were a number of projects that I was excited to be involved with in Lexington. The one I was most excited to be a part of was the Master Plan for the West Lexington Greenway. This was a true grassroots project being driven forward by a group of hardworking and enthusiastic conservation and recreation groups. Ultimately, the goal of the plan is to construct a 2+mile long “connector”bike path from the existing Minuteman Bikeway (which runs from Cambridge to Bedford, straight through Lexington) to the Minuteman National Historical Park. There is a lot of town-owned conservation land in the “connector” corridor. Part of the plan was to link up as much of the open space in that part of town. Its a project I’ll be keeping an eye on as it develops.

What are your favorite/least favorite wetland creatures and things?

Least favorite – ticks, mosquitoes, poison ivy and horseflies.

Most favorite – anything that usually doesn’t sting, bite or cause rashes if you come in contact with it.

What’s your biggest hot button regarding wetlands protection?

Ignorance and purposeful violations of the wetlands protection laws.

Anything else worth noting?

I often claim not to be an expert in anything. My job requires me to be a generalist, so to speak. I’m part scientist, part civil engineer, part architect, part landscape architect, part project manager, part attorney, part mediator… So to say the least, my role is very dynamic and interdisciplinary, which I love. I have to be able to talk turkey regarding the wetlands laws with all kinds of professionals and lay persons and effectively communicate how the laws apply to whatever it is they are hoping to do – which can range from planting trees to redeveloping industrial sites.

My educational and professional background is in Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Management and Construction and Ecology. My most recent degree is an MA in Landscape Design and my studies focused on Sustainable Design.