Census Program

Anyone who visits the Fresh Pond Reservation knows that it's a busy place. Every day, hundreds of people visit the reservation to complete the loop around the pond, bike, wander throughout the paths and nooks, socialize, and enjoy the urban wild. In 2010, Watershed Division staff members developed the Fresh Pond Reservation Census Program to better quantify the number of visitors and to determine the many different user types. For more information on the sensors, click here to visit their website.

Check out our numbers from last year in the Fresh Pond Census Annual Report 2014

 Bike Path Eco-counter

BP Multi sensor along the bike path. The sensor counts bikes and people passing by.

There are six counters total throughout the reservation. Two are located along the Perimeter Road: one at the water treatment plant (WTP) and the other near Little Fresh Pond (LFP). More recent installations include sensors at popular entrances to Fresh Pond- Black's Nook, Lusitania, and the hill by the golf pro shop. These entrance sensors will help us understand where the majority of users are coming from, and whether they are commuting through or here to recreate. An additional sensor capable of counting bikes and people was installed on the bike path along Fresh Pond Parkway. The Eco-Counters tally both the number and direction of users by using a passive infrared sensor and a lens to detect small temperature changes caused by people passing the sensor. The sensors collect no other information. For quality control, data from the Eco-Counters is downloaded weekly and screened for anomalies. Staff and volunteers conduct surveys of user type, group size, and travel direction periodically at Eco-Counter sensor locations. These surveys function to supplement and quality check the data collected from the Eco-Counter sensors.

If you like what you hear, consider volunteering as part of our census team!



In both 2011 and 2012, the average daily count by the Eco-Counter sensors on the Perimeter Road was 1,100. That number rose to 1,200 average daily users in 2013 and 2014. That difference may seem insignificant at first glance, however that's an average of 100 more people per day visiting the reservation!  An example of average daily counts for entrance sensors is provided below.

Fresh Pond Census Data:2014 Entrances 

User type data collected from 2014 surveys, shown in the pie chart below, indicates that over half of all users at the Reservation are walkers, while almost 20% are dogs. These data help us inform our shared use management strategies!

 Fresh Pond Users by Type 2014

The data collected from the Eco-Counters is compared to the walkers, runners, and cyclists tallied in the surveys. Reservation users who are shorter than the height of the Eco-Counters, such as children and dogs, are not tallied by the Eco-Counter and thus not included in the error calculation. The running average error between the sensor counts and survey data is approximately 10%, the majority of which is attributed to differences caused by side-by-side groups the sensor detects as one count.  Comparisons between the surveys and sensor results imply that the sensors consistently underestimate total user amounts, indicating that the Eco-Counters provide conservative estimates of Reservation usage.