By Lauren Magee

Meet Charlie Crosby, a passionate and dedicated individual who embodies the spirit of conservation and community engagement. As an active volunteer and member of the Friends of the Blue Hills, Charlie has become an integral part of the organization’s mission. Beyond his volunteer work pulling invasives and adopting trails, his roots in the area run deep, having spent some of his childhood making memories with his family in the Blue Hills. With his strong connection and commitment to the Blue Hills, Charlie is a shining example of how personal experiences can transform into dedication to preserving and protecting our natural landscapes.

Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself and your involvement in the Blue Hills? 

I grew up in Milton. The first house I lived in as a little kid, was on Hillside Street, basically right in the Blue Hills. So that was kind of the start to my career with the Blue Hills. I was in Boy Scouts and stuff as a kid, and so I was always around the Blue Hills as a young man. And then I started my career, went to college, and left the Blue Hills for a few decades.

I came back about 15 years or so ago, and I started becoming a pretty serious hiker. So I started spending a lot of time on the trails in the Blue Hills.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you visit the Blue Hills?

Hiking is probably my number one thing. 

When you think of the Blue Hills, which memory stands out the most and why?

As a little kid, my family used to take me, I was the youngest and I used to go with my family up to Buck Hill. We could hike there from our house and pick blueberries on July 4th.

So, my first memories of the Blue Hills started at age four or five, hiking up Buck Hill. I would say more recently I started doing trail adoption and then getting more involved with the trail work and some of the other work done in the Blue Hills.

Judy really turned me on to invasive species and removal of invasive species like garlic mustard, and a whole bunch of them. That really motivated me. She’s done a good job of helping to connect me back to the Blue Hills through my naturalist personality. She’s reconnected me through the invasive removal out in the Fowl Meadow.

How did you hear about Friends of the Blue Hills?

I didn’t pay much attention until I retired and COVID hit, and I had all this time on my hands. So I reached out and became a trail adopter and got connected via Bob Flagg and Chris Mullin.

Actually, I met Bob Flagg on the trail one day with my son while I was hiking. He encouraged me to start doing some more work with the team. So that’s when I adopted a bunch of trails. I have about six trails I’ve adopted.

Why do you support the Friends of the Blue Hills?

This started out as me supporting my hobby, which is hiking. Now, I’ve kind of turned into a naturalist, and so I really wanna support the environment and do whatever I can to help the wetlands and the hills and the environmental areas we have up in the Blue Hills.

That’s what motivated me to support The Friends because they’re the only group really making a lot of waves, making a lot of progress, and maintaining and taking care of the Forest. The DCR and the state don’t really have the resources to do all the little nitty gritty details.

If the Blue Hills were not protected and preserved, how might your life be different?

My life would be drastically different. I spend probably in the average week, three or four days up there either hiking, doing trail maintenance, mountain biking, and/or pulling invasives. So it’s really my backyard at this point. It’s my go-to place on a weekly basis for fresh air and exercise more than anything.

I think it’s such a fantastic resource. We have it so close to a major metropolitan city. It’s been well taken care of and preserved for the last 30 or 40 years or however long it’s been around. I don’t know what I’d do without it. 

Do you have any other stories, thoughts, or feelings that you’d like to convey about, um, how and why the Blue Hills are important to you?

My family has a strong connection to the Blue Hills. My dad, who’s 98, still talks about it. My brothers and sister and I have that in common, so it’s kind of an important touchstone for my entire family.