Friday, August 31, 2007

Ugh! Did I See PURPLE Near Manchaug Pond?!

Last weekend, driving on Manchaug Road at the edge of Areas 1 and 2, I thought I saw PURPLE on the side of the road farthest from the lake. See it in this photo - look close as it is tiny and almost finished flowering!

My fear was/is Purple loosestrife! A perennial which is flowering now and common along moist roadsides, and small ponds and lake edges. Within a few years an entire pond can become a sea of PURPLE! No exaggeration on my part either! Just think of the fish hatchery ponds on West Sutton Road in Sutton. Clearly smaller than Manchaug, but we don't need our coves loaded with this!

Anyway, I pulled both plants and figured better to be safe and properly identify it later!

Here's the official word on the HIGHLY INVASIVE weed Loosestrife (and there are a number of different species some showy, some not):

"Purple loosestrife is a wetland plant from Europe and Asia. It was introduced into the east coast of North America in the 1880s. First spreading along roads, canals, and drainage ditches, then later distributed as an ornamental, this exotic plant is in 40 states and all Canadian border provinces.

Purple loosestrife invades marshes and lakeshores, replacing cattails and other wetland plants. The plant can form dense, impenetrable stands which are unsuitable as cover, food, or nesting sites for a wide range of native wetland animals including ducks, geese, rails, bitterns, muskrats, frogs, toads, and turtles. Many rare and endangered wetland plants and animals are also at risk.

Adult height: 2 to 7 feet.

Purple loosestrife thrives on disturbed, moist soils, often invading after some type of construction activity. Eradicating an established stand is difficult because of an enormous number of seeds in the soil. One adult plant can disperse 2 million seeds annually. The plant is able to resprout from roots and broken stems that fall to the ground or into the water.

A major reason for purple loosestrife's expansion is a lack of effective predators in North America. Several European insects that only attack purple loosestrife are being tested as a possible long-term biological control of purple loosestrife in North America.

Clean boats, clean waters...

If you are a water recreationalist — boater, angler, water-skier, scuba-diver, sailor, or canoeist — there are some important things you can do to prevent the transport of harmful exotic species from one lake or river to another. In some states and provinces it is illegal to transport harmful exotic species.

* Inspect your boat, trailer, and boating equipment (anchors, centerboards, rollers, axles) and remove any plants and animals that are visible before leaving any waterbody.
* Drain water from the motor, livewell, blige, and transom wells while on land before leaving any waterbody.
* Empty your bait bucket on land before leaving the waterbody. Never release live bait into a waterbody, or release aquatic animals from one waterbody into another.
* Wash and dry your boat, tackle, downriggers, trailer, and other boating equipment to kill harmful species that were not visible at the boat launch. This can be done on your way home or once you have returned home. Some aquatic nuisance species can survive more than 2 weeks out of the water, so it is important to:
o rinse your boat and equipment that normally get wet with HOT (at least 40°C or 104°F) tap water; or
o spray your boat and trailer with high-pressure water; or
o dry your boat and equipment for at least 5 days, before transporting to another waterbody.
* Learn what these organisms look like (at least those you can see). If you suspect a new infestation of an exotic plant or animal, report it to your natural resource agency.
* Consult your natural resource agency for recommendations and permits before you try to control or eradicate an exotic "pest." Remember, exotic "pest" species thrive on disturbance. Do-it-yourself control treatments often make matters worse and can harm native species."

SO if you see PURPLE in Manchaug's watershed - STOP the car, PULL the plant and DISPOSE of it. Do not composted it! Let us each be diligent to keep Manchaug Pond loosestrife free!

Click the title/link for more info!

Labor Day Weekend! Get the Flares Ready!

Just a reminder to purchase your flares to light up the shores of Manchaug Pond! 8:00 p.m. Sunday night! Flares can be purchased at the local compground stores in Area 1 and 4 or from your local Area Representative. Flares are sold at cost: $3.00 each or 2 for $5.00.

When did this tradition start in our 40 year history? Anyone know for sure?

Perhaps we should light the flares both Saturday and Sunday in celebration of the MPA 40 years of service to Manchaug Pond!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"...were planned well.... Officials work to protect the watersheds"

Those were headlines in yesterday's Telegram & Gazette. Not about Manchaug Pond....

...about the watersheds of Quabbin, Ware River, Wachusett Reservoir and Sudbury Reservoir. Credited is "the foresight of engineers at the turn of the century and those who have worked tirelessly since to protect the reservoirs and the rivers and streams that feed them, providing natural filtration - the watershed." Forsight. Watershed.

Yes, they are protecting a water supply which Manchaug is not. But did you know that Manchaug Pond is fed by runoff from the watershed - not springs. Remember when Lycott Environmental conducted our weed survey and gave us that fact at an MPA Annual Meeting. And more recently Lycott did testing up in the watershed... High bacteria counts in one very unpopulated cove... numbers coming from the watershed. That is why we have an educational component to the NonPoint Source Pollution Project - so people in the watershed can learn how to do things, around their lawn and landscape and in the care for their animals, with Manchaug Pond in mind.

The property owners around the lake and in the watershed need to continue working to educate neighbors, and town officials as to the importance preserving Manchaug Pond. MPA efforts to form a watershed district would only strengthen current effort. It would give us the tools we currently don't have in administering the grant and in seeking new funding sources. Our DEP NPS pollution grant addresses only 7 (5 in Sutton, 2 in Douglas) of 27 sites which bring unsafe runoff directly into the lake and directly promote weed growth and poor water quality. All 27 sites need to be addressed. We need to have foresight now and address all pollution around Manchaug Pond.

This week I received an email from the chairman of the prudential committee of a lake district working to preserve a 300+ acrea "Great Pond" in another part of Massachusetts. His story sounded similar to ours... that local conservation districts and environmental groups, the towns and the state were not interested in getting involved with the lake... "when the water rights and dam were own by a paper company that was closing it's doors. The proprietors around the pond decided to form a district." That was in 1994. And yes, the dam seems to be the issue which gets our attention, gets us all thinking, studying, and acting for the benefit of the lake. The water level remains a big issue for us. Our dam is still up for sale with future ownership a question. It was announced at the last Douglas selectman's meeting that Guilford stated they are going to "minimize their liability".

A lake district would definitely put the people around the lake in a position to take control of their own destiny - whether it be issues with the level of the water, the quality of the water, or the protection of the wildlife habitats and the watershed which feeds the pond. A lake district is a good move. A strong move. It takes the political boundaries and town personalities out of Manchaug Pond and puts the lake first. It gives the people of the lake a voice they don't have with town government; it gives the people of the lake 21st century tools to act and be protected. It puts us in a good position.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Municipal Districts Common in Massachusetts

The Manchaug Pond Association continues the work begun last August of educating town officials as to the beauty of Manchaug Pond, the benefits of forming a municipal district, and the need to position the lake community so it can act promptly and effectively in the future.

Municipal districts within cities and towns are common in Massachusetts. Water districts such as the ones in the Sutton villages of Wilkinsonville and Manchaug are simple, easy to understand examples. Sewer districts, fire districts, even school districts, there are also community improvement districts which look to the maintenance of roads, historic preservation and then those that manage a lake,pond or river. The watershed/lake districts look to the issues that are important to nearly all waterways - quality of the water, invasive aquatic weeds and their control, and water level and impoundment issues.

How do districts come about? Well, there is a ground swell of support from the local user group/property owners with a minimum of 80% needed. The support here on Manchaug Pond was and remains over 80%. The citizens bring their request to the town and then in turn to the state legislature for review, input and approval. Once approved, the district management committee will receive training from the government. The first meeting of the district, the property owners will vote to form the district and elect their clerk, treasurer and representatives and approve a budget, etc.

Why are districts desireable? Well, they get things done! They have a special interest in the area inwhich they live, know the issues and develop partnerships with individuals, businesses and government which would otherwise not happen. Their neighborhood is important to them. In this time where cities and towns wrestle with tight budgets and prop 2 1/2, these districts handle their own budgets with no economic costs to the town. They think creatively to secure funds throught the partnerships and grants available to municipalities.

A win-win situation!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Deer Me! Let me give you this thought!

As you drive Torrey Road in Area 3 be ready to brake for deer! Yesterday evening this deer was enjoying a few apples. One foggy morning last week at about 7 a.m., my daughter saw a doe with 3 fawns cross Irma Jones Road. They are common around the lake and in the watershed. And I should probably add - a little too used to us all.

Lyme Disease is also prevelant in this area and I'll talk about that in a later post but...'s a thought the MPA Board and membership hasn't discussed....
Last week our MPA President has found grant opportunities open just to municipalities/municipal districts - thousands of $$ awarded to conservation: to preserve greenways and open space to allow for wildlife corridors, to protect special habitats, and to reduce development in watersheds. We did have a property owner from Douglas offer land in the watershed to the MPA for preservation. The MPA is not in the position to do that so I suggested he try groups such as the Trustees of Reservations and the Metacomet Land Trust or another Conservation group. But.... a watershed district could be given the mission and the tools needed to maintain some of the forested lands in our watershed. Also available to municipals and landowners are grants to maintain our forested resources responsibly and economically- so that landowners are not force to sell to developers. On Manchaug Road, our Sutton planner was instrumental a few years ago in working with new landowners to develop retreat lots on larger parcels to allow for the building of their new home and yet protect large tracks of land in the watershed. Let's at least be open to look at the possibilities and the options!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Our cause was righteous, our intent was good"

Turn on the local community cable station as soon as you can- specifically the Douglas Board of Selectman. This is why I write today - to talk of leadership, committment, vision, integrity and courage. Those are the qualities I would like to see in our elected officials. Here's the link if you want to view it on your computer.

Sunday, as my daughter watched her new episode of Star Trek from the "Captain's Collection", I heard Captain Sisko say "our cause was righteous, our intent was good..." Certainly that was the case with the Manchaug Pond Association. What better cause then the preservation of Manchuag Pond. Our intent to do the best thing, employ the best tools - modern, 21 century methods of protecting the lake through the formation of a watershed district at no cost to the town. Our methods: communication within the lake community, communication with the current dam owner, communication with government, looking to the experts for advice and direction, starting a list of users so that all could share the costs. A platform based on truth, vision for the future, and with all users involved.

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Our lake is beautiful. In our meetings with the towns' Board of Selectman, the dam is always the main focus. What of the high bacteria counts we are seeing from the watershed? what of the other 20 sites/problem areas identified as sources of non point source pollution not addressed by the grant? What of our problems with the grant process because we are a non profit? what of our lake level drawdown method of weed control? what of our August secchi disc reading which shows a major decline in water clarity/transparency in one year alone? What about Manchaug Pond?

"Leaders manage change. Managers control process." ~ Anon

The Douglas Board of Selectman voted whole heartily a few weeks ago to fully support the formation of a watershed district for Whitin Reservoir. They hired legal counsel to review the legislation, made requests for a voting seat and more limits to the eminent domain powers. Attorney Walter Jabs and the people of Whitin's complied. The Manchaug Pond Association did the same thing.

Last night before many supporters and two opposed, we asked the Douglas Board of Selectman for their support. We heard two selectman hem and haw that they could not support a district for Manchaug Pond because of Sutton - the selectman's vote not to be involved! What power that Board of elected officials has! Two Douglas voters strongly reminded selectman they were elect represent Douglas, not Sutton's position and that they needed to act in the best interest for Manchaug Pond! What of democracy? In both towns, an overwhelming number of voters called for selectman to support our right to assemble and vote on a watershed district.

In two weeks, Douglas will meet again to make their final decision. Give Douglas a call.. they did the right thing for the people of Whitin Reservoir, ask them to do the right thing for the people of Manchaug Pond. Ask them to be leaders. Michael Guzinski, Executive Administrator. 508-476-4000 x 101. or email

"Managers think about today. Leaders think about tomorrow." ~ Dan McCreary

Let the user's champion Manchaug's cause. Let the people who know her best, who have her as a backyard be her caretaker. Empower them with the tools they need to do the job.

"Sometimes we must do more than our best, we must do what is required." Winston Churchill.

Let democracy be the order of the day!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More on Districts

A Sutton Selectman expressed difficulty understanding the operation of a district within a city or town. Attorney Jabs clarified they were municipal entities (not municipalities) like sewer and water districts. And it seems the district concept has been a great way to get specific tasks accomplished by specific user groups. Check out this headline from Better Homes and Gardens, October 2006: TAPPING LOCAL SPIRIT: COMMUNITY GROUPS CAN'T FIX THE PROBLEM? IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS MAY BE THE SOLUTION.

We've looked at Minnesota and the fact that they have been doing the watershed district idea since 1955, let's take a look at Missouri as reported in this article: In 1998, Missouri passed the Community Improvement District (CID) Act allowing property owners "to set aside money - gthered from a special tax- to make specific neighborhood improvements," reports the magazine. The District is run by the people who live in the community and can pay for everything "from landscaping, security, recreation and historic preservation."

"What makes these districts unique is the self-taxing mechanism," says Lorlene Hoyt, assistant professor of technology and pplanning at the Massachusetts Institute of technology, who heads up the school's international Business Improvement Development Project. Another Sutton Selectman saw a watershed district as possibly "competing" with the town for future tax dollars. The MPA reported we had the support of our members, both young and old, because they realize the importance of protecting this beautiful lake. Missouri homeowner Barbara Ellis further explains, "People don't mind the tax when they know the money is going back into the community."

In Dallas, Texas, the article reports a developer went banckrupted and the "city counldn't maintain the land. Homeowners stepped in, gathered the state mandated 50 percent approval from fellow property owneres, and created the Improvement District." The District revitalized the neighborhood of 3,000 homes completing the empty and half-completed lots left by the developer, and also works with local police to increase patrols in the community. The benefits and the versitility and mission of each district go on and on!

Why do the residents around Manchaug Pond want to form a watershed district? Well the list is growing all the time! Check in tomorrow for more details :))

Friday, August 10, 2007

Annual Meeting & Picnic 2007

Saturday, August 18th is the date of this year's MPA Annual Meeting and Picnic. Where your voice is heard and your opinion and friendship is valued! :)

The business portion of the meeting will begin at 10:30 with agenda items to include the Manchaug Pond NonPoint Source Improvement Project and the Manchaug Pond Watershed District initiative.

The picnic will begin as usual at noon or there abouts. You'll notice a change in the menu this year. (Actually I was slightly shocked when the Board voted to deviate from the traditional. It wasn't unanimous but a very good majority made the decision.) In true picnic style we will enjoy grinders and pizza from Harry's as well as our traditional Helen's Bakery brownies which a few of us just couldn't go without! Hot coffee and cold soda will also be served. Why the change? Well, our head chef and Picnic Director Maureen from Area 3 recently moved away from the lake, and our new location does not have running water for clean up purposes. Cost remains the same at $5 for adults and $2 for children.

Embroidered MPA baseball hats and visors will be on sale. Yes, visors! (at the request of our treasurer :)) A 50/50 raffle will add to the excitement.

The meeting will be held in a new location this year. Yes, another change! King's Campground will host us at the Pavilion. Why the change? Well, our older members have complained about the rugged terrain at our traditional site of Camp Blanchard. King's will provide a clean site, on the lake, easy to find, with plenty of parking. Attendant's will be on hand to assist and direct you, most may park in the lot across from the store.

See you there! Don't forget!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Town of Sutton Votes Down Democracy on Manchaug Pond!

"They didn't vote for the people or the lake!" exclaimed a new MPA member.
"We're asking them for our democratic right and they think their voting on owning a dam!" lamented a Sutton resident.

Tonight SUTTON Selectmen voted 4 to 1 DENYING Manchaug Pond residents their democratic right to formally assemble and vote on the proposed watershed district.
The Selectmen's vote is an effort to block the formation of a separate deliniation of the town whose mission would be the protection of the beautiful water resource of Manchaug Pond.

In a vote difficult to fathom and before a jam-packed room of Manchaug Pond supporters which overflowed into the hallway, the Board gave a laundry list of far-reaching reasons and unsupported fears for their inability to support the lake residents.

After denying the MPA an opportunity to answer the specific questions raised by each Selectman, the Chairman gave the MPA President Dave Schmidt, Attorney Walter Jabs, and Corresponding Secretary Phyllis Charpentier six minutes to outline changes made specifically for the town and to tell of the initiative's importance to the lake's water quality and preservation. The dozens and dozens of lake supporters/property owners were kept silent, told they should have spoken during the Public Forum and not during the formal slot on the agenda alloted for the MPA. An individual broke the silence asking for a show of hands demonstrating the overwhelming support for the MPA and the proposed district. Five individuals were counted as not raising their hand.

August of 2006, the MPA had began a year long effort to inform and educate the Town as to the issues and concerns before Manchaug Pond, to gain their support and involvement in a watershed district. Specifically, the concern that 27 problem areas around the lake had been identified as contributing high levels of bacteria and other nonpoint source pollution with the grant only addressing 7, the district would open doors and monies currently out of reach for the non profit association. The district would also address liability concerns and position the group to address possible future issues such as the waterlevel and the dam with methods of the 21st century.

In an attempt to open a door for the MPA, Chairman Kevin Geraghty made a motion to consider the MPA's proposal in light of the changes made in the act to address the Board's concerns but it did not have the votes to go anywhere. Selectman did comment that the uncommonly large turn out for their meeting demonstrated there was interest in the issue. But not one Selectman stated his recognition of the beautiful waters of Manchaug Pond and its contribution to the community, of his committment to the citizens, the businesses on the lake, or the environment, or of his desire to work with us for its future well-being.

Ironically, Manchaug Pond Association followed Waters Farm on the agenda, with MPA receiving the NO vote for the effort to further preserve and protect the lake after the Town gave the Farm a formal proclamation of congratulations for 250 years of history. As you know, Waters Farm was donated years ago to the town by former MPA board member and secretary Dorothea Waters Moran and the farm lies on the lake providing the "scenic views" so loved by farm visitors.

Very sad... it is easier to oppose something then try to understand it and work in partnership. As a lifelong Sutton resident, I would have loved to see my town shine as a champion for the lake.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Work Progresses on Watershed District

The MPA continues to work on the framework of the watershed district addressing specific concerns raised by members and in meetings before the Boards of Selectman in the towns of Douglas and Sutton. Specifically, the eminent domain powers, which all municipalities have, have been further narrowed. Also at the request of the Douglas Board, the management committee of the District will be expanded from 3 to 5 members with the town having a voting seat.

I believe the Minnesota Association of Watershed District sums it up well when it states "Because water does not follow political boundaries, it makes sense to manage natural resouces on a watershed basis." The "land of 10,000 lakes" (really over 11,000), Minnesota's legislature authorized watershed districts in 1955. Today, the Association of Watershed Districts reports over 46 watershed district in Minnesota. They "are local units of government that work to solve and prevent water-related problems. The boundaries of the disticts follow those of a natural watershed, and the districts are usually named after that watershed... This type of management allows for an overall, holistic approach to resource conservation... Water mamagement on a watershed basis is important for uniform and effective controls, not only to correct problems but to prevent them."

Massachusetts only boasts 3,000 lakes and a handful of watershed districts, but it has been done here and the MPA wants to position ourselves ready and acting to ensure that Manchaug Pond receives the best protection for the future!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

New Feature on the Blog... The Poll!

A new feature is now available from Blogger - THE POLL! Yes, if you look to the right you will notice we can poll our readers on any given topic! What do you think? Care to participate?! Care to suggest a topic or category for a future poll? Be the first to take the poll!

If you rather just lurk, than sit back, relax and enjoy last night's sunset! :))


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