Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MPA Annual Meeting 2009: The Chowda!

Capt'n Dick The Gray Beard said...

Aye, Matey...
'Tis gettin' crisp on the water as we be enjoyin' the foliage.
Me was thinkin' that a great way to warm up after a cruise would be with a bowl of Capt'n Paul's Seafood Chowda that we tasted at the MPA Annual Meeting!
But me cook ain't got no recipe.
Me thinks you aught to post his recipe or we'll be pillagin' an' plunderin' 'till we get some more of that wonderful grub.
Thank you!
September 25, 2009 10:33 AM

Seems we have pirates in our midst with our Annual Meeting Seafood Chowder being our greatest treasure!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cormorant Found Dead!

This cormorant was found by a neighbor last night along the shore.

Cause of death unknown.

Here are photos taken last month of a pair, alive and well:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday's Cleanup Event a Success!

While Weed Cleanup volunteers shed a bit of mud, sweat, and laughter on the shoreline of Manchaug Pond Saturday, the day provided beautiful weather for those enjoying the water!

Our first WEED Cleanup Event brought together 18 MPA volunteers from 9 households (waterfront/waterrights property owners) to "hand harvest" emergent invasive weed species from the north and east shorelines of the lake. With pitch forks and shovels in hand, the group worked from before 9 to 1:30 removing two dump trucks loads of harmful weeds.

Right off, the MPA extends a huge thanks to the Town of Sutton Highway Department and Transfer Station staff and Conservation Commission for their unending support and work on our 319 Non-Point Pollution Grant Project and another huge thank you to Tom Berkowitz for the use of his dump truck during this event.

Our coordinator educated participants in identifying problem plants to be removed from the native sedges and rushes which were to remain. He explained how in his home town in upstate NY, the invasives took over acres and acres of his 5 mile long pond. The weeds crowded out the native plants which are more desirable as a food source for wildlife, and replaced the water with huge bog-like areas thick with vegetation.

We thank all those who worked the event. We were able to clear 3 long stretches of shoreline. We'll save the smaller areas for another day.... Job WELL DONE!

A pleasure to work with all of you!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weed Cleanup Today! 9 to 11

Blue skies, golden sunrise, no wind, low 40's = great day for this first WEED Cleanup!

So get your MPA hooded sweatshirt or MPA fleece vest, a pair of work gloves and boots and a sharp shovel or pitch fork and meet Jim, Ted, Ray, Linda, David and the rest of the crew down at the boat ramp! Come by boat or vehicle. If you don't know what to do, don't worry - come anyway. If you don't think we need you, you're wrong we want YOU there!

Target: new infestations of common reeds, cattails, canary reed grass, and purple loosestrife growing along the shoreline... and if we think the floating waterlillies and watershield are getting to thick we can do some thinning there too! Jim has a truck lined up to haul it all away.

See you there!

Friday, September 25, 2009

In the news: Invasives a Problem for Lakes and Users

Invasive aquatic species have been the big topic this week, in news papers, mailings and MPAction!

~ The Central Mass chapter of the Congress of Lake and Pond Association (MaCOLAP), in this week's mailing for membership renewal gave a News Alert!! of the Laurel Lake zebra mussel discovery and noted the MaCOLAP directors are supporting the proposed Senate Bill 2113.

Bill 2113 looks to protect our lakes and ponds but realistically I question whether it could ever be successful. In essence, the bill makes it a criminal offense to put a contaminated boat in a lake or river in the Commonweath. That means if your boat or trailer has any weeds -invasive species -not only zebra mussels but a piece of milfoil or fanwort or Asian Clam, you could be fined or imprisoned.

Take a look at the bill for yourself:

An Act protecting lakes and ponds.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

Section 1. Chapter 90B of the 2008 official edition of the Massachusetts General Laws is hereby amended by inserting the following section:-

Section 5D. No one shall place a vessel that is contaminated with an invasive species or that has been exposed to contaminated waters in the last thirty days and has not been properly decontaminated upon the inland waters of the commonwealth. For the purposes of this section, invasive species is defined as an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

Section 2. Notwithstanding section 14 of chapter 90B of the Massachusetts General Laws, whoever violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty dollars nor more than three hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than sixty days or both.

How would this be monitored and enforced. Most of the time our public access ramps are open and unattended. Environmental police, desperately needed for boating safety, are already in short supply. A criminal offense... imprisonment for 60 days!

I would rather see the bill focus on expanding the current DCR Lakes and Ponds Program Boat Ramp Monitoring Program - train boat ramp monitors and gatekeepers, work with towns and lake associations to expand current outreach and successes to educate boaters. Set up boat wash stations making it easy and obvious what boaters need to do to prevent the spread. Educate!

~ This week's Telegram article talks about the burden of lake associations and lakeshore property owners who bear the brunt of taking care of our lakes and ponds: monitor weeds and funding studies, spending man-hours mapping and harvesting, paying and raising the funds to keep invasives at a minimuim.

Thankfully, for years the MPA had the dam caretaker's cooperation in addressing our weed issue with a successful lake level drawdown program. With that being lost the past few years we are seeing a huge surge in weeds on Manchaug.

This summer the MPA hired professionals to do another weed study of Manchaug Pond ($800 I believe was the price tag.) Conservation Commission had asked for updated information last fall when the waterlevel and drawdown was an issue. MPA had to present documentation from a previous study that fanwort is present as it is an invasive successfully controlled by lakelevel drawdown. In our study this summer, the "subsequent vegetation management options" calls for yearly monitoring, hand harvesting of some and if drawdown isn't an option recommends chemical management at a price tag of $95,000 every other year for the fanwort and $10,000 to $15,000 every year for the Variable Milfoil. Manchaug has never been chemically treated, and MPA continues to work to minimize the causes and promote other effective tools such as hand harvesting of new infestations and proper lake-level drawdown.

~ Further, the study states "due to the apparent favorable conditions for invasive species, and traffic from non-resident boaters, the lake has the potential to contract other even more aggressive species." Hydrilla to be specific. Swell! Asian Clam was brought in last fall at the boat ramp.

Try this article in section B, page 5 of today's Blackstone Valley News Tribune.
Section B, Page 5

~And THEN, with all that... I'll see you all at the Boat Ramp as we hand pull those emergent aquatic invasives - common reed, loosestrife, canary reed grass, etc.

See you there!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall in the air! Time for cleanups.

Nighttime temps may be in the 40's with the beginning of the autumn season, but the days remain lovely on Manchaug with sunshine and temperatures in the 70's. This is good weather for cleaning up boats and putting stuff away for the winter season.

If you are looking to do any work along the shoreline or put in a new dock, be sure to check out the local regulation. The MPA will be sending to all members an informational flyer put together by the Douglas Conservation Commission. This flyer was also available at our Spring Social, Annual Meeting and as part of the grant exhibit. You can check the town conservation websites for specific regulations:

MPA has two cleanups scheduled: This Saturday, September 26th for emergent aquatic weeds and October 17th for trash along the shoreline and area roads and the boat ramp.

All MPA members, campers, and Manchaug Pond users are invited to join us for both events. We will meet at the Public Access Boat Ramp at 9 am and fan out from there. If you can't join us until later, come along and look for the work groups along the shore, roads and at the ramp!

The Weed Cleanup is a new event targeting two new infestations of reeds/cattail beds and on the look out for more purple loosestrife. Our weed survey conducted July 2009 by Lycott Environmental recommends hand harvesting is best with these "pioneer" infestations.

Forecast looks great for Saturday - see you then! Bring gloves, boots, sharp shovels and anything else you may need! Questions? contact us at and I'll put you in touch with Jim the event coordinator.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Traveling to a distant shore... a new, magical land... and new boats!

This evening as the cool air settles in and the wind dies down, the lake takes on a magical glow

in the distance... traveling to another shore in a far off land

- Australian to be exact... we can visit the movie set of the latest Narnia film thanks to "Aussie Annie" and her children.

boats on the set...

and the magnificant Dawn Treader!

Aussie Annie's blog:

I would also like to note that today's newspaper reports the passing of an MPA member from Area 6. Grant him eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on him.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sawyer Beetle NOT Asian Longhorn!

This photo taken on a home in the Manchaug Pond watershed features the native Sawyer Pine Beetle, NOT the dreaded Asian Longhorn Beetle from China which is now plaguing areas of Worcester, Holden, etc.

The whitespotted Sawyer Pine Beetle (Monochamus scutellatus)is a "native beetle that attacks diseased and damaged pine trees, emerges from trees earlier in the season than ALB, which is not expected to be seen in Massachusetts until July."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MPA Annual Meeting 2009: You! Volunteer Opportunities.

One of our readers wrote:

Anonymous said...

Well said!!!

I would like to hear about upcoming opportunities to volunteer, opportunities where people can join in and help make a difference!

September 02, 2009 6:29 AM

All right Manchaug Pond fans! The lake needs YOU! Here are two opportunities where you can join with other lake lovers to make a difference, a big difference!

The first is new to the MPA but recommended this year by environmental scientist at Lycott Environmental in their 2009 survey of Manchaug Pond. So here we go!

Sept. 26th ~ INVASIVE WEED CLEANUP! 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at the State Boat Ramp and spread out from there! This time we are after a new villian in our cleanup- not trash but INVASIVE PLANTS!

A weed, by definition, is a plant out-of-place, unwanted! Invasive tells us it will take over - pushing out the native plants and with our shallow lake, replace acres of water with thick and high reeds, cattails and loosestrife. These plants came in this spring - "hand harvesting... is best used for pioneer infestations. Pulling and cutting is labor intensive and must be done at a time when plants are not producing seeds," the report states. So we will hit the shoreline and start digging and pulling!

Bring your gloves, boots, pitch forks, ice picks and shovels or whatever you like. Jim, our event Coordinator knows first hand what these plants can do to a lake! He is calling for your help..."We need as many able bodied men and women as we can get!" Don't disappoint! See you there!

Second opportunity is our Annual Fall Cleanup scheduled for Saturday morning, October 17th. The MPA organizes this effort, hitting the roadside and shoreline in and around Manchaug Pond to remove trash and debris left from the summer season. Meet at the State Boat Ramp with your gloves. MPA provides the trash bags. See you again!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last Night's Sunset and Deer

While capturing the sunset from Holt Road....

... I was missing an opportunity to get a photo of the doe and her three young up close and in the daylight.

One of these days I am going to get a great shot of them with the camera!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Campers Still Celebrating!

Some may think the season is over on Manchaug Pond but it is not. It definitely has slowed down and quieted down with the cooler weather but one of the campgrounds is still hopping with music/band/DJ on the weekend.

This summer they celebrated Christmas in July and Halloween in August... anyone heard what the highlighted celebration in September will be? Someone even got a bit too creative and set up a tree on Blueberry Island - pinwheel decorations and all.

Thanks to a reader/ commenter for submitting this photo taken this summer.

Hopefully the tree will be taken down soon as fall is approaching. Hint! Hint! It is not a favorite of mine - I would prefer the real thing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The sun broke through and temperatures are in the 70's!

Enjoy the water!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Massachusetts- Zebra Mussel Continues to Make News

Zebra mussels continue to appear in the news. In July, Massachusetts Fish and Game took emergency action by closing a number of western Mass public access boat ramps for 30 days as well as Quabbin Reservoir and then extending that closing to October 15th for contaminated Laurel Lake.

Here's a cartoon from the 9/3 issue of a local Worcester Telegram FLASH.

The MPA views zebra mussels and other invasives as extremely serious. Back in 2002, the MPA realized the threat of zebra mussels as already in neighboring states. Our public access boat ramp as well as our three on-lake campgrounds means high boat traffic in and out of Manchaug. So in 2002, an MPA board member wrote and submitted a grant to the then DEM Lakes and Ponds Grant Program asking for matching funds to provide a boat wash station with a trained authority on duty at the public ramp to inspect boats coming on to the lake during the summer season.

Problem - the state wanted Manchaug to serve as a wash station for all the area lakes. Guess we had a good idea but, for this area it would have meant too much traffic, too small a ramp, and perhaps an increased risk to Manchaug. So, the idea was scrapped.

Since 2002 we have been told that the pH of Manchaug would not provide a favorable environment for zebras. Still look at what NOAA has to say:

"The rapid spread of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha ) across the United States is due to their ability to grow and reproduce in a wide range of environmental conditions, coupled with a free-living, planktonic larvae (veliger). When zebra mussels were first discovered in the United States, predictions concerning their habitat requirements were based on the European experience with these bivalves. However, zebra mussel populations in this country have consistently exceeded all expectations and predictions as to how fast they could grow, reproduce, and expand their range. Although many research projects are currently underway to delineate the ecological needs of zebra mussels in the United States, much of these results are not yet published."

Seems the pH and the calcium content of western Mass lakes are just what these mussels like.

Here's info from Mass DCR Lakes and Ponds Program:
1.2 Species Ecology

The habitat of the Zebra mussel is freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers. Zebra mussels are the only freshwater mollusk that can attach to solid objects, including rocks, logs, docks, boats and various water intake structures. They can also attach to aquatic plants.

Zebra mussels reach sexual maturity within 1 or 2 years and spawn at water temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (F). They can tolerate water temperatures from 32 – 90F with optimal being 63-74F for growth and reproduction. Zebra mussels require well oxygenated waters (8-10 parts per million (ppm)) with a pH of 7.4 -9.0 and calcium concentrations of 20 – 125 ppm.

The zebra mussel has three distinct life history stages: 1) larval; 2) juvenile; and 3) adult. Any one of these stages can be easily transported from one body of water to another. This is particularly true for the larval stage (veligers) because the larvae are microscopic and therefore not visible to the naked eye. The juveniles measure just a few millimeters in size. Therefore, both larvae and juveniles can be transported in tiny amounts of water on various watercraft including boats/trailers, kayaks, canoes, jet skis, etc. They can also be moved on SCUBA gear, swimwear, and other clothing used in the waters containing zebra mussels. People are not the
only way zebra mussels can be transported. Pets and aquatic wildlife such as waterfowl, turtles, crayfish, beaver, muskrats, and otter are also potential vectors for this species.

Lakes infested with zebra mussels include:

1. Laurel Lake, Lee/Lenox, Massachusetts

2. East/West Twin Lakes, Connecticut

3. Lake Champlain, Vermont

4. Lake George, New York

5. Hudson River, New York

6. Any of the Great Lakes

See the following publication for necessary decontamination measures if you have visited one of these lakes in the past 30 days.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big Fish - Found Not Caught

Okay. Here's my disclaimer: the following post may NOT be too pleasing or pretty to all readers! Photos include a skeleton and dead fish up close and personal! ... these fish were found by two of my daughters on Manchaug Pond - cause of death unknown.

A pickerel I believe - big but not a champion!

This skeleton found by my youngest while she explored the old causeway in the spring. Definitely an exciting find for a young scientist!

Another daughter brought this bass home in early August. She could not believe the size of it!

The gash on the side... do you think a prop got it once it was dead and floating belly up?

Monday, September 07, 2009

MassWildlife Goose Control - Hunting Sept 8th

From MassWildlife:
2009 Early Goose Season Dates and Bag Limits Set

The early Canada goose hunting season dates are September 8 - September 25, 2009, with hunters allowed a bag limit of 7 birds per day.

"Data collected from agency goose banding activities this summer indicate the early goose hunting seasons have kept populations stable in the central and western parts of the state and full bag limits are rarely reached," commented MassWildlife's Waterfowl Project Leader H Heusmann. "However, in northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts, where we find our densest goose populations, hunters frequently filled their 5-bird limit. This indicates that the potential to reduce what are often nuisance population levels of resident Canada geese can be increased with a higher bag limit. The early season provides goose hunters with ample hunting and gives more time to landowners to allow hunters to reduce the size of nuisance flocks of resident geese."

Waterfowlers are reminded that state and federal waterfowl stamps are required for hunting waterfowl and that hunting hours begin one half hour before sunrise and end at sunset.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Unexpected Guest!

Three boats tied together visiting in the middle of the lake on the calm waters of Thursday evening... with an unexpected guest joining them for pretzels, chips and a little drink!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Labor Day Eve - Lighting of the Shoreline!

On Manchaug Pond we have a tradition begun over 35 years ago where we light the shoreline with flares on the eve of July 4th and Labor Day. The practice was suggested at the 1974 MPA Annual Meeting by member Professor Robert Nunnemacher and has been done ever since.

This year be sure to join in! Show your solidarity as the MPA continues to promote the welfare and correct use of Manchaug Pond and the watershed! It has been quite a year and united, our members make a difference! Flares should be lit Sunday, Sept. 6th at 8:00 p.m. It is a beautiful sight to see the shoreline a glow.

To purchase flares: visit the campground store at Holbrook or call your Area Representative. Flares are sold for cost by the MPA at 2 for $5 or 1 for $3.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

MPA Annual Meeting 2009: You! The Membership

This year's MPA Annual Meeting took place at a location we know well and has been home to many meetings over many decades - the YMCA's Camp Blanchard.

The Dining Hall held the close to 80 attendees (if you count the kitchen crew!) - who came together on a perfect hot summer day to hear the reports and updates outlining the many hours of effort on behalf of the lake and to the benefit of the many who enjoy this resource.

After the business meeting, our speaker gave a humorous look at boat safety,

passed out the latest copy of the Massachusetts Boater's Guide, and offered safe vessel checks for all boats on Manchaug during Boat Safety Week 2010.

The day ended with a social and luncheon with plenty of delicious food! New MPA logo embroidered t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, visors were available at cost to members and updated maps of lakeshore residents were for the taking. The educational 319 stormwater grant display and brochures were also available for more info.

So...Favorites of the day?

Definitely #1 would be Paul's homemade seafood chowder - rave reviews!

The price tag for annual herbicide applications for aquatic weed control got a few laughs - shocked laughs in light of our conservative treasury!

The humor of the Worcester County Sail and Power Squadron speaker was appreciated... funny how life jackets shrink over time!

The "safety green" colored t-shirts were definitely a pleaser! In fact size medium and large shirts of all colors were sold out!

The results of the 2009 Weed Survey conducted by Lycott Environmental stirred quite a few hearts as a group has already formed to schedule a day for a weed pull. (We have two weeds that are best controlled by hand harvesting.)

And of course the new effort to expand our current organization - growing with the times and the issues - will allow for new possibilities - grant donations we turned down this year because of our present 501 status, the ability to receive land to protect our watershed and perhaps even our waterlevel, and the benefit to our members of a tax deductable donation for all contributions, etc.

Our close to 100 paid members received the agenda and minutes to the Annual Meeting in the mail prior to the meeting. If you forgot to pay your dues - drop a check in the mail or give it to the Treasurer and that will get you back on the mailing list!


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