Monday, June 30, 2008

Massachusetts Outdoor Recreation Map

More tourism talk in the news! June 27th, the day after my last post, I received a news advisory from Mass Wildlife announcing the release of the Massachusetts Outdoor Recreation Map, a directory of what the state has to offer in outdoor attractions and activities.

Ian Bowles, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), will release the map as part of Governor Patrick’s dedication to enhancing local tourism at a press conference July 1 at the Waldon Pond State Boat Ramp. The state explains that the "informational guide is a great resource and tool for visitors as well as residents. The guide features outdoor safety tips and ethics and helpful information such as locations of state parks, forests, reservations, beaches, and wildlife areas. The updated map is a collaboration between two EEA agencies: the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)." The map features Fishing & Boating Access Boat Launching Sites with our own Manchaug Pond ramp listed!( And No, there are no caution/warnings notes about Manchaug's low waterlevel!!) You'll also see on the list in the Western District the ramps of 3 Great Ponds who have protected their lakes with a Watershed District: Cheshire Lake, Lake Buel and Goose Pond. (I couldn't resist that bit of trivia!)

This two sided map is an extremely detailed, attractive brochure, listing every state facility in the Commonwealth. A great way to promote tourism - I can see it at all the State rest stops and information centers on the highways!

To view the map and directory: -

To subscribe to MassWildlife News, a free electronic monthly newsletter updating you on research, events, new laws and other agency activities. All you need to do is send an email to:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Massachusetts It's all here" even at Manchaug Pond!

Have you ever thought of Manchaug Pond's economic contribution to the area?!

Massachusetts' tourism website for the central part of the state highlights Lake Manchaug in it's boasting opening paragraph!

See for yourself:
Hit the slopes at Wachusett Mountain. Take in the Worcester Sharks, AHL affiliates of the San Jose Sharks. Hang out with Mother Nature at Lake Manchaug and go camping, fishing or boating. Spend the day hiking or snowshoeing, amongst the trees at Otter River State Forest or Wells State Park. Or, kayak along the Blackstone River and know what it really means to "get your adrenaline pumping." With a wide range of forests, ponds and trails easily accessible, Central Massachusetts is home to all of the things you love to do — indoors and out.

here's the link:

Now check out the $$$ economic contribution in dollar$ that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sees as the Value to the Nation of Oxford's Hodges Village natural resource area on the French River for 2006 at this link:

"107,012 visits per year resulted in:

* $1.94 million in visitor spending within 30 miles of the Corps lake.
* 63%of the spending was captured by local economy as direct sales effects.

With multiplier effects, visitor trip spending resulted in:

* $2.10million in total sales.
* $1.15 million in value added (wages & salaries, payroll benefits, profits and rents and indirect business taxes).
* Supported 27 jobs in the local community surrounding the lake."

If we did the math for Manchaug Pond, our numbers would be higher than Hodges as we have more overnight campgrounds and sites with the 4 campgrounds, camp stores.... Trails? Yes, we too have the Mid-State Trail in our watershed. Boat Ramp? Yes, we also have one. We also have day swimmers at the campgrounds and we have day campers at the YMCA facility not to mention the activities at living history museum of Waters Farm.

Interesting isn't it! I happened to speak to a retired couple yesterday who have been at the same campground on Manchaug for 30 years. They were asking about the low waterlevel as they had not seen it like this in all their years! Campers love our lake - do a search and find how many times it is mentioned in blogs! And they will tell you they are regular patrons at Tony's Pizza and other neighboring resturants and coffee shops, they attend our churches, our library, buy food from our stores... How about those fisherman who love Manchaug! They must stop for a coffee on the way in or out...more economic contribution.... hmmm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fierce Summer Storms Cause Flooding - but not on Manchaug Pond

Torrential downpours. Dime-size hail. Flash flooding.

But not on Manchaug Pond.
The rain gauge recorded only 1 inch of rain.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Spotted again! Pileated Woodpecker

Early this morning this woodpecker could be heard on the shores of the lake tapping methodically along checking out dead wood for insects. My husband spotted him about 7:30 a.m. in an oak tree along the shore of Manchaug Pond. With the limits of my camera, I was able to get closer and get a picture of him. My husband says it is about time for a new camera with a good zoom lens. This bird is good size - about the size of a crow and the sound of it tapping quite loud. A few years ago these birds nested in the cavity of a very large tree which has since come down in a storm.

Tonight we could hear 3 birds calling to each other from across the channel.
Check out the link to learn more. I also logged him in as being observed here on Manchaug Pond with the eBird site with Cornell Univerity's Ornithology

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On the lake - more activity!

Today saw more activity on the lake. The Boat Ramp reports receipts have been down as visitors are asking to have a look at the waterlevel before they pay. The inch of rain a few days ago brought the lake up about an inch and residents are getting creative - pulling docks closer to the water and pushing pontoon boats across the mud to the water. Here's a little look at blue skies and sunshine on the water!

The Baltimores Vacationing on Manchaug Pond

Baltimore orioles are visiting feeders around the lake.
These photos are from Area 2.

Just a note: MASS Wildlife recommends taking down suet feeders in early spring to deter bears. I did report on a bear earlier who I later found had been seen first in Sutton before going to Northbridge.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Monster Size Fish Head!

MPA Board Meetings... never boring... never know what can be brought up under "New Business!"

Last night a new board member brought a huge fish head to the meeting. It had washed ashore three days ago. He put it in the freezer just so he could show all of us! The picture doesn't do it justice as it was huge!

Too bad DEP didn't get a look at this one. Actually they were looking for live fish for the fish sampling survey yesterday as they went around Manchaug's shore. I heard from another board member they were looking for contaminants. Routine sampling and testing. As lakes go we are clean. We have seen the lake water quality decrease over the years with increased use. Our 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution grant from DEP directly addresses pollutants from stormwater through the construction of 5 new designs - stormdrains, filtering swales, and catch basins along Manchaug Road and Holt Road and at the State Boat Ramp along with a rain garden and pervious paving.

Another major component to the grant is an educational program aimed at homeowners and livestock owners to keep household, landscape and barn pollutants out of the lake. We have already held the DEP Healthy Lawns Workshop and the Blackstone River Coalition presentation this spring. But more information from those presentations later... we'll let this old fish have it day! It was huge!

Arrowheads the Topic Tomorrow at Museum

Manchaug Pond and arrowheads - ask any seasoned resident here on the lake to see his or her collection. My brother-in-law whose Swedish parents had been here way back when, had a collection he mounted in two frames. There must have been over 50 arrow heads in all shapes and sizes. I have even found a few myself! When the lake was down for the 2006 repairs to our gate, plenty of visitors came to search our shores for remnants of the first native settlers around Manchaug Pond. Perhaps this summer with the waterlevel down more will be found.

Interesting too is that Manchaug is named after the Native peoples who lived and fished along her shores. Other area lakes and pond's are named after white men who came later to tame their waters or who owned the property around their shores: Aldrich, Stevens, Singletary, Tucker and Whitin's.

Once again the Robbins Museum in Middleton is offering an educational program of interest to us on Manchaug. Last spring an exhibit of arrowheads collected on our shores was highlighted. Perhaps it is time we paid them a visit!

June 21, 2008 10:30-11:30
Robbins Museum, Middleboro, MA

Is this an arrowhead? That is a question that as a professional archaeologist who enjoys working with the public, I have heard a thousand times from professionals and novices alike. By being introduced to the fine art of flint knapping-the production of stone tools- participants will get the chance to learn to answer that question for themselves. I'll teach you how to make a stone tool and how to use them as well. Band-aids and safety goggles will be provided as needed.

Archaeologist, Craig Chartier, Director of the Massachusetts Archaeological Professionals (MAP) will be offering educational programs for children 6-12 years of age on the third Saturday of every month from 10:30-11:30 at the Robbins Museum of Archaeology in Middleboro, Massachusetts. These programs, which include topics in archaeology, history, and science, consist of a variety of engaging hands-on activities, lively discussions, and useful handouts to further the educational experience. A fee of $7.50 for the first child and $6.00 for each additional child includes all supplies, handouts and museum admission. Parents and siblings are invited to visit the museum and enjoy MAP’s Jr. Explorers area during class time. Preregistration is required as space is limited. For more information or to preregister, visit or contact Craig Chartier at 774-488-2095.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Whitin Reservoir Watershed District

103 in favor. 5 opposed. It is final: the property owners of Whitin Reservoir voted last night to form a watershed district - their own municipality within a municipality. The meeting took place in the auditorium of the Douglas high School.

Within one hour's time, the property owners had asked and answered questions and fears concerning the district's future, appointed a temporary clerk, amended and adopted by-laws, approved a budget, and elected a Board of Directors for their association which will continue as a social organization.

Specifically, Douglas Selectman Michael Hughes had opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance, next a tally of those in attendance was completed to ensure a quorum was present and then swore in the newly elected temporary clerk. Two gentlemen involved in the 2 year effort (we try not to mention too many names on this blog to ensure privacy!) along with a professional moderator versed in Robert's Rules took the group of over 100 through each article, making motions and voting to set the organizational structure of the district.

As invited guests, 4 members of the MPA Board of Directors attended and observed an extremely professional, organized and well run first meeting. Our sincerest congratulations go out to the people of Whitin Reservoir!

The MPA pursued the watershed district initiative in concert with Whitin but needed two town's support which did not happen. The MPA saw a district as a means to give the pond a strong unified voice, simplify administrative tasks associated with our 319 grant, open doors for other grants aimed at land conservation, and position ourselves to act on water level and dam issues in a stronger manner as the majority of the membership saw fit. This district idea came at the recommendation of COLAP, LAPA-West, and other private and Great Ponds which have successfully established watershed districts of their own.

A thunderstorm erupted during the meeting eventually bringing an inch of much needed rain to the very low Manchaug Pond.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday Meeting of MPA Minds!

Did you miss the MPA Spring Social? Too bad! The day began with coffee and juice and freshly made donuts and danish from N & J's of Oxford's as well as some mudslide brownies and other fancy pastries from BJ's Wholesale Club and lots of smiles and greetings in the Dining Hall of the YMCA Camp Blanchard facility.

This year the Social took a serious tone with less talk and more learning about the steps the MPA took this spring to get our dam closed with the flashboards put in May 13th - two months later than usual. The President reported on the conversations, emails and meetings between the officers and directors and with the dam owner, state agencies and officials and the Town Administrators and other town department heads and personnel.

The members in attendance were also asked to look at the long term - a ballot vote was taken as to the next option we would formally pursue to avoid low waterlevels in the future.

To end the meeting, Donna Williams of the Blackstone River Coalition spoke of the groups initiatives, Manchaug Ponds's water test results as a tributary feeding the Blackstone and ways towns and individuals can help clean up our waterways.

Also, MPA clothing was on sale with the 40th anniversary hats still available. There is talk of ordering more products! Any requests? Personnally my hooded sweatshirt with the large MPA on the back is beat and the fleece vests sold before I purchased one!

Friday, June 13, 2008

More on the Fish Kill and the Negative Impacts of Low Waterlevel

The MPA spoke again with the biologist, Richard Hartley, from Mass Fish and Game as property owners around the lake report dead fish continue to wash ashore.

Specifically, he said we can expect this to take several weeks to run its course. No need to report more dead fish as they have record of the kill. We should call Mass Wildlife if we observe something new or a change in the composition of the kill - for example: all ages of fish not just adults and/or a majority of another species other than bluegills.

He also said that this summer we may see smaller kills as our waterlevel is low and shallow areas have great weed growth (The dam owner kept the water exceptionally high this winter failing to do the lake level drawdown for aquatic weed control which they have done for years) which will mean depressed O2 levels in the early morning hours in the cove areas.

In addition to more fish kills, other amphibians are in jeopardy as is evident with our spring peepers. These tiny frogs reproduce in the cove areas which act as vernal pools (wet in spring and dry in summer). Having been dry this summer - no peepers in two of our coves and a reduced population in a roadside wetlands.

Next our state biologist predicts terrestrial/land plants filling in beach/shore areas which are usually underwater.

A huge thanks to our state's Dept. of Fish and Game: their biologists who are on call and provide expert advice, their monthly epublication MASSWildlife, and the dept. willingness to get involved, serve as a resource and document what is going on here on Manchaug Pond. THANKS!

Wednesday Night's Storm

Manchaug Pond was not hard hit - very little rain here with other towns getting downpours and suffering loss of electricity from downed trees and limbs and lightening strikes from the thunderstorm which rolled in during the night.

Don S. of Area 5 reported in on Wednesday with an exact reading from his wind gauge that we had hit 39.5 mph at midnight as the storm blasted by. That registers us as an 8 on the Beaufort Scale - a "Fresh Gale!" Further, Don explained that the wind speed during the day on the lake is about 12 mph and the most he has seen at his home in Paxton is 22.5 mph. The storm brought us up to 39.5 with very little rain and some lightening.

Check out the Beaufort Scale yourself. It even lists the type of damage you can expect at the various wind speeds. For example 55 mph would up root trees and cause "considerable structural damage."

The uprooted tree pictured is seen near Camp Blanchard and is from a previous storm. It's shallow root system on the rocky shore is very visible.

Don't forget the Spring Social at Camp Blanchard tomorrow morning!

Fish Kill Numbers over 150

It has been a busy week with litle time for blog posting but lots to talk about and report.

On the fish kill - Our 1st Vice President walked the end of Area 1 which extends from Bachand's cottage to Bronson's - the stretch on Manchaug Road next to the lake where there are no houses and is the location of "the big rock." 116 fish. She also saw 3 at the boat ramp and 4 at her home.

I walked the Sutton side of the old causeway to find 18 fish (14 bluegills, 1 calico bass, 1 white perch and a yellow perch) The yellow perch was upside down and still breathing but I counted him as he did not look long for this world.

Wednesday- 3 on the beach including the first horn'd pout I see to add to the original 8 and 3 more the next day, the neighbor's 9, my daughter's 2 on the opposite shore, the President's 3 in the opposite cove.

That brings my total up to 169 plus what you might have picked up. The wind had been blowing to this shore so by far their are more on the eastern shores.

Our 1st VP reported speaking to another biologist at Mass Fish and Wildlife, Richard Hartley, who reitereated the info provided Sunday by Todd Richards that this was the result of the pressure of the lake being low, the fluxuation in the water temperature and spawning. He did recommend informing local government, suggesting local control is recommended and would continue to serve as a resource to us.

To report a fish kill Mondays through Fridays between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, contact Richard Hartley of Mass Wildlife at 508/389-6330.

The dead fish I gathered from the shore were buried near the raspberry plants - good old fertilizer Native American style. But far too many and far too smelly.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Fish Kill after the pollen cleared

Here's a link to learn how to identify the freshwater fish species in Manchaug Pond:

More fish kill photos:

Did any one want close-ups? ugh!

Reporting a Fish Kill

This is how the water front looks today. 25 ft back I could smell the dead fish. At least 8 fish dead at first glance: My husband identified 3 white perch, a pickerel, a bass, yellow perch, and a few kivers. Another neighbor told us he had 9. In all my years here, I never remember it looking this gross.

I called Mass Wildlife as they had just sent out their monthly e-newletter with a blurb on REPORTING FISH KILLS. The dispatcher had a biologist call me within minutes. The biologist, Todd Richards, said it is good to report the kills so that the state can record it and get a history on what is going on. He himself knows Manchaug Pond as he likes to ice fish here. :)

He said if the kill is under 100 fish, wait and call the office Monday morning.

Specifically, biologist look at three things: 1. multi species 2. large numbers and 3. if they are still dying, in trying to determine a cause. Talking it through with him, we could eliminate pollution - the yellow stuff is harmless pollen from the white pine trees. (I have a degree in horticulture so I knew that one!) Now the excessive heat is definitely a factor- going from 50-60's to the 90's in one day AND he said it comes at a time when the fish are stressed due to spawning. The yellow perch just finished spawning and the kivers (pumkinseeds, bluegills, etc) are in shallow water looking to spawn.

Being the corresponding secretary of Manchaug Pond and always on duty, I asked about our waterlevel... if we are a shallow pond with a mean depth of 13 feet and the lake is down 3 1/2 to 4 feet could this be a factor... He had heard our story with the dam owner lowering the lake and his expert opinion was that this was NOT the time to be changing the water level. He said changes now would effect adults this season and the number of young next season.

Glad I called! Especially in light of the fact the dam owner is still talking about dropping us down this month, even after the DEP ruling, to follow their rule curve.

Now it is your turn to call Mass Wildlife and tell them what you are seeing so they can get a history on Manchaug. Mondays through Fridays between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, contact Richard Hartley at 508/389-6330. He did ask me where I was located on the lake and how often I am seeing the fish and if they are newly dead.

Also here is the official blurb and subscription info to their electronic newsletter.


With warm weather warming up lakes and ponds, fish kills may be discovered in some bodies of water. The sight of dead and dying fish along the shores of a favorite lake or pond can be distressing and trigger concerns about pollution. Fish do act as the "canary in the coalmine," so it's natural to think a fish kill is an indicator of a problem with human caused pollution. However, the vast majority of fish kills reported are natural events.

Natural fish kills are generally the result of low oxygen levels, fish diseases or spawning stress. Depletion of dissolved oxygen is one of the most common causes of natural fish kills. As pond temperature increases, water holds less oxygen. During hot summer weather, oxygen levels in shallow, weedy ponds can further decline as plants consume oxygen at night. This results in low early morning oxygen levels that can become critical if levels fall below the requirement of fish survival. In addition to reduced oxygen levels, late spring and early summer is when most warmwater fish species, such as sunfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass) begin to spawn. At this time, large numbers of these species crowd into the shallow waters along the shore vying for the best spawning sites. These densely crowded areas become susceptible to disease outbreaks, especially as water temperatures increase. The result is an unavoidable natural fish kill, usually consisting of one or two species of fish.

When a caller reports a fish kill, a MassWildlife fisheries biologist determines if the kill is due to pollution or is a natural event. Generally, pollution impacts all kinds of aquatic life, therefore the most important piece of evidence for the biologists is knowing the number of fish species associated with the fish kill. Fish kills in which only one or two species are involved are almost always a natural event. When it is likely a fish kill is due to pollution, MassWildlife notifies the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DEP takes the lead on a formal investigation which includes analysis of water and fish samples to determine the source of pollution. MassWildlife provides DEP with technical assistance by identifying the kinds and numbers of fish involved.

To report a fish kill Mondays through Fridays between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, contact Richard Hartley at 508/389-6330. After normal business hours or on holidays and weekends, call the Fish Kill Pager at 508/722-9811 or contact the Environmental Police Radio Room at 1-800-632-8075."

Subscribe to MassWildlife News, a free electronic monthly newsletter updating you on research, events, new laws and other agency activities. All you need to do is send an email to:

Friday, June 06, 2008

Next Saturday, June 14th, 9-Noon - ANNUAL SPRING SOCIAL

(photo taken at the August 2004 MPA Annual Meeting & Picnic - No names please and I did not get permission to post this photo so if one of you three mind - let me know and I'll remove it immediately. Thanks.)

Well, you may have heard about it in the mailing with the info on the Healthy Lawns worshop and the Spring Clean-up, or read it earlier on this blog, or saw the signs posted around the lake roads, or maybe the postcard is in your mailbox today ... if not, here it is again - a notice for the MPA ANNUAL SPRING SOCIAL!

MPA Members are invited to come together for our Annual Spring Social!
Over a coffee and danish in the YMCA Dining Hall, this year’s conversation will focus on the water level and the water quality of our lake.

9:00 - Make and renew friendships with lake neighbors over coffee and danish.

9:30 - What’s with the Waterlevel! MPA President Dave Schmidt will give an overview as to why the change in the waterlevel this spring; highlighting our cooperative efforts with the Town of Sutton, the Office of Dam Safety, and the Governor’s Administration with DEP to close the dam. Looking at the situation today, the MPA Board is seeking your input and vote as to the future course of action to be taken.

11:00 - Donna Williams, President of the Blackstone River Coalition, will speak on the Campaign for a Fishable/Swimable Blackstone River by 2015, including their "Tackling Stormwater in the Blackstone Watershed" initiative, Homeowner's Guide to Protecting Water Quality in the Blackstone River Watershed, and their farm and horse owner's guides. She will inform us as to the volunteer water quality monitoring program and the BRC Water Quality Report card, highlighting sites near Manchaug Pond. The focus will be on the holistic picture of the entire watershed and how Manchaug Pond and the Mumford River watershed fit in, and what folks can do to
help. Ms. Williams is also the Mass Audubon Conservation Advocacy Coordinator and a Commissioner on the John H.Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission.

Noon - Home to enjoy the 90 degree weather!

50/50 raffle, MPA t-shirts on sale, pay your dues, sign up for a committee or speak to the Nominating Committee to get elected to the Board of Directors at the August Annual Meeting. In any case.... I'll see you there!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Manchaug Pond Mentioned in Fishing Article

Here's an article, brought to my attention by our 1st Vice President, which mentions Manchaug Pond as it comments on the effect gas prices are having on the fishing tournaments. Funny as I had forgotten about the price of gas for boats... the past two weekends we have seen little traffic from the boat ramp and it made me wonder if it was the lower waterlevel, the windy days we have been having, the never ending forecasts of bad weather the weather men keep giving... I should have thought about gas prices as our MPA President did mention putting $98 worth in his boat for the Memorial Day weekend.

At my house we are not motorboating yet and it has been too windy for the canoe!


Related Posts with Thumbnails