Monday, October 17, 2011

Over 200 witches and wizards descend on Fyfeshire

Potterwalk was a resounding success! Over 200 witches and wizards--two thirds of them underage wizards ranging from toddlers to teens-- tried their hand at Quidditch practice, identifying wand woods, warding off a dementor, avoiding an arachnomantula,  spotting the giant squid, learning their heart's desire in the mirror of Erised, and more as they walked around the Fyfeshire Ponds on Saturday.  Many folks were from Bolton, but we also had visitors from Lancaster, Shrewsbury, Hudson, Berlin, Clinton, Hubbardston, Sterling, Boylston, Rutland, Leominster, and Methuen, MA. We even had folks from Woonsocket, RI and Londonderry, NH.  The Death Eaters tried to deter them with a sudden brief rainstorm, but they remained steadfast and made it all the way around the pond. 

The House Cup went to Gryffindor with 692 points, followed by Hufflepuff with 261, then Ravenclaw with 168 and finally Slytherin at 43.  Of course, there were 75 people in Gryffindor House--the sorting took a person's preferences into consideration--25 Hufflepuffs, 15 Ravenclaws and only 5 Slytherins.  So on an average points- per- witch/wizard basis, Ravenclaw came in first, followed by Hufflepuff, Gryffindor and finally Slytherin.  But these numbers are approximate--it's hard to count points after a couple of butterbeers.  The main thing is that everyone had a good time and many families came out to see Fyfeshire for the first time. 

A couple of young witches lost wands while they were in the woods.  (We asked Binky--she didn't take them.)  If anyone found a wand as they went around, please send an email to and we'll return it to its owner. 

Below are a few photos from the event. If you have any photos of the event that you are willing to share, please send them to and we will add them. 

Many thanks to everyone who helped out with this event, and to everyone who attended!

Here are some photos from the event:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Looking for a few good witches and wizards

We are hosting a Harry Potter Witches and Wizards Walk on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 2:00 - 4:00 at Fyfeshire Conservation Area.   Walkers will have the chance to win points for their houses by doing stuff as they stroll through the conservation area.

We could use the following kinds of helpers--a butterbeer for your efforts plus Community Service Credit for Nashoba High School students.  Knowledge of Harry Potter helpful, but not required.  Just come by Fyfeshire around noon on Saturday, and we'll fill you in on how you can help.  For example, we could use
  • General help shepherding kids around the ponds
  • A sorter to help "sort" kids into their houses (Professor McGonagall?)
  • A greeter to greet people, hand out marauder's maps, explain what's going on
  • "Madam Rosmerta" (you don't have to dress up if you don't want to) to serve butterbeer (nonalcoholic!) and  generally tend to the refreshments
  • A dementor for kids to ward off
  • Madame Hooch to coach kids throwing the quaffle through a hoop

Plus lots more--let us know your favorite character, we'll find a role for you! 

Send email to and let us know what you can do.

Why are we doing this?  We think the ponds are worth saving and want to get folks out to see them for themselves. No admission, but donations gratefully accepted toward saving the ponds.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Save the Ponds Night Filled the Roadhouse!

Many thanks to everyone who turned out for the Save the Ponds night at the Bolton Roadhouse on Wednesday night.  The place was hopping--every table and the bar were filled and at one point people were coming in so fast, there was a wait for a table.  But the crowd was patient, and everyone had a pleasant meal as they contributed toward saving the ponds at Fyfeshire Conservation Area.

Congratulations to Dave Wylie who won the 50-50 raffle.  But don't be too quick to have a drink on his tab--Dave graciously donated his winnings back to the cause.

Many thanks to everyone at the Bolton Roadhouse for hosting the event and helping us to raise some money toward saving the ponds!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eat to save the ponds!

Save the date:  Wednesday, Sept. 21 4:00  - 9:00 p.m.

The Bolton Roadhouse is hosting a Save the Ponds night--print out and bring the coupon below with you and the Roadhouse will donate 20% of the price of your meal towards saving the ponds. 

The Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds is trying to save the ponds in the Fyfeshire Conservation Area. We are raising money toward repairing the dam.   For more, see The Issue page. 

Please send us an email telling us how many are planning to attend--the Roadhouse would like to know how many to expect, for planning purposes.  Or call Lee at 978-365-3245.

Click on the coupon below to open a separate page with a larger-sized coupon for printing:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One week after Hurricane Irene, we are happy to report: Nothing

Although downed trees and power outages plagued Bolton following Hurricane Irene last week, it looks like Fyfeshire Conservation Area, the ponds and the dams made it through unscathed.  When I walked around the area the morning after the storm (nothing else to do--can't shower, can't make coffee without electricity...) there were no large trees in the paths, no visible damage to the dam, and minimal flooding, although the waters were certainly more forceful than before the storm.  Just a lot of leaves and small branches strewn about.  Even the piles of brush we had dragged out to the road on community service day to haul away remained intact. 

I took a few video clips of the dam before and after the storm.

Here is a video taken on August 27, the day before the storm. Not​ice how no water is coming through the pipe or spilling over the rocks, and the brook below the dam is just a very gentle gurgle.

The morning after the storm (Monday, August 29), I took this video.  The water is much stronger and the brook downstream​, while not raging, has markedly increased in volume.

This morning, six days after the storm, the cascade of water over the sides has reduced to a flow through the pipe, and the brook below the dam is much gentler.

The stream that feeds the large pond near the entrance was also greatly reduced. Below is a clip of the stream as it flows through a culvert below the path near the entrance to the Fyfeshire Conversation Area on Wattaquadock Hill Rd., taken the morning after Hurricane Irene.  Through much higher than usual at this time, (normally a mere trickle) it did not flood the path and is hardly a raging torrent. 

Here is that same stream this morning--completely dry. 

Update to this posting 9/13/2011:  Following the heavy rains that the remnants of Hurricane Lee brought us last week, the flow of water over the dam is the heaviest it's been all season.  The flow has lessened quite a bit since the below video was taken four days ago:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Next Saturday (Aug. 27): Community Service Day at Fyfeshire

Been meaning to get over to Fyfeshire once more before things start up again in September?  Get your workgloves on and head over this Saturday!  Help us pick up trash, rake, weed whack, haul stuff and get Fyfeshire looking its best.

Fyfeshire Community Service Day
Fyfeshire Conservation Area, Wattaquadock Hill Rd (at intersection with Ballville Rd)
Saturday, August 27 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. 
(Rain date:  Sunday, August 28)
Bring any of the following if you have them:  work gloves, weed whacker, chain saw (not electric), pruning shears, clippers, wheelbarrow, hammer, picnic lunch

Light refreshments will be provided.

Also, save the date:  Wednesday evening, September 21--Save the Ponds night at the Bolton Road House Bar and Grill, 544 Wattaquadock Hill Rd.

Eat to save the ponds!  The Bolton Road House will donate 20% of the price of every meal ordered with coupon to help save the ponds at Fyfeshire Conservation Area.  More details will be available on this blog closer to the date. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Look who we spotted at Fyfeshire:

Summer is officially here, the lilypads are starting to bloom in the Fyfeshire pond and new life is stirring, as evidenced by these recently submitted photographs:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pond party photos

The Pond Party that took place on April 2 was lots of fun.  Kids had a chance to pet a live snake, look at a live yellow spotted salamander, identify molds of animal paws  and taste "scat" samples (not to worry, they were raisenettes and tootsie roles) while adults admired Rona Balco's hand carved artwork, enjoyed a slide show detailing the history and beauty of Fyfeshire Conservation area, and studied animal skeletons and pelts.  Check out the photos below.
On another subject, the Bolton Common included a letter to the editor in which a reader expressed feeling "duped" by the Conservation Commission presentation of two videos at the Bolton Library: 
“Restoring America’s Rivers: Preparing for the Future” and “Taking a Second Look: Communities and Dams.” In fact, the name of the second video is Taking a Second Look:  Communities and Dam Removal.  The Conservation Commission has every right to present their views, but changing the title in this manner is misleading.

Read more: Bolton Common Letters to the Editor: April 1-April 7, 2011 - Bolton, MA - The Bolton Common

Admiring Rona Balco's woodcarvings.

Kids making animal paw prints in clay.

From left: State representative Kate Hogan with artist Rona Balco.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fyfeshire Pond Party and Art Exhibit!

In case you missed the news in our last blog (see below), both articles about the Fyfeshire Dam are being removed from the town meeting agenda until next year.  (See our In the News section for recent news reports.) That means we can devote our full attention to our upcoming:

Everyone in Bolton and surrounding towns is invited to a Fyfeshire POND PARTY and ART EXHIBIT on:

Saturday, April 2 
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 
Davis Hall, First Parish Church of Bolton, 673 Main Street, Bolton.  

  • Dozens of exquisite wooden carvings of plants and animals native to Fyfeshire, created by local artist Rona Balco, will be on display.  
  • A narrated slide show depicting the beauty and history of Fyfeshire will be presented.  
  • Enjoy “pond punch,” critter crackers, and other pond-related delectables.  
  • Test your scat knowledge—can you identify the animals our samples of pelts, skeletons, and scat come from?  
  • Kids (and adults!) can try their hand at drawing animals, plus other kid-friendly activities.  

Here's a sneak peek at some of the sculptures that will be exhibited:
Detail from milkweed plant life cycle.
Detail from milkweed plant life cycle.
Owls in a tree.
Owls detail.

Bat with prey.

Mother Nature closeup.

Insects on driftwood.

Rona presents her turtle sculpture.
Closeup of turtle.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Both dam articles being pulled from town meeting warrant

This week, Bolton town officials met with the state Office of Dam Safety to request an extension to comply with the dam order until June 2012, and state officials verbally gave their approval.  This extension would allow the town to take advantage of pending legislation that is before the Massachusetts senate and house to give municipalities and private dam owners assistance in complying with dam safety orders, including access to loans and  the opportunity to bond for the work over a 40-year period.

On Tuesday, the Conservation Commission voted to remove the warrant article from town meeting, contingent upon receiving the above approval in writing and upon the citizens group (that's us) removing its article as well.  We have just received word that the Conservation Commission has received the written extension from the Office of Dam Safety.  We have agreed to remove our article and are in the process of gathering the signatures necessary to withdraw it from the town meeting agenda. 

We welcome this development--the extra year will give us all a chance to take a deep breath, do a biological study of the area and work together toward providing the information the people of Bolton need to decide what they want for Fyfeshire conservation area and its dam.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fyfeshire Walk, Selectmen's Meeting

Fyfeshire Walk March 13
The Bolton Conservation Trust held a walk around the Fyfeshire conservation area on Sunday afternoon, March 13.  Beth Lambert, River Restoration Program Coordinator for the Division of Ecological Restoration of the MA Department of Fish and Game talked about dam removal in Massachusetts.  Both Ms. Lambert and Al Ferry, President of the Bolton Conservation Trust (not to be confused with the Bolton Conservation Commission) were quick to point out that dam removal vs. repair is a complex issue that is the town's decision and that Ms. Lambert is merely providing information as an expert on dam removal.  She outlined the issue of dam safety across the state and the history of dam building in Massachusetts.  Rona Balco provided a history of the Fyfeshire Conservation area.

There were at least 40 people in attendance, of all ages (plus a few dogs).  A few things from Ms. Lambert's talk that struck me were:

  • In describing what the area might look like after dam removal, there was a variety of description from a stream going through the area to a meadow to a vernal pool.  Over the long term, it is likely the area would fill in to become a red maple forest.  It is difficult to predict exactly what course nature will take. 
  • Re. what would happen to the fish in the pond, Ms. Lambert said they would be trapped and relocated to another suitable habitat.  Re. the birds that people now enjoy watching, the herons would probably stay if the area develops a vernal pool but the other birds would move to another open body of water.
  • When the water is removed, the silt left behind provides rich soil for seeds, and vegetation grows in very quickly--possibly including invasive species.
  • Beavers often build dams in the narrow necks such as the one where the Fyfeshire Dam is located..  However, in no project that Ms. Lambert knows of has this been the case  (so we can't rely on them to rebuild the dam for us!) 

Ms. Lambert had several handouts that were passed around, but not many people were able to see them because of the large number.  She said she would make them available to the town for posting on the website.

Selectmen's Meeting, March 10

At this meeting, members of the Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire presented their case for dam repair. Several members of the group presented arguments for repair of the dam, including that it
  • retains the beauty of the area, 
  • conserves the existing ecosystem
  • upholds the trust of the person who donated the area that the town would keep it as it is, and
  • preserves a piece of town history.

The group also presented letters from the Berlin Conservation Commission and the Clinton Fish and Game Protective Association in support of the efforts to keep the dam in place. The text of those letters can be found on our Supporters page.

The Conservation Commission requested to lower the price it is asking for removal at town meeting to $360,000.  This request was approved.  In response, we requested  to lower the amount we are asking  to $396,000.  Our aim is to maintain parity on the two articles on the town warrant so that people make a choice based on what they believe is best for the future of the town.  Either option--repair or removal--will cost the town a lot of money.  We have worked to include repair on the warrant because we believe the people of Bolton, and not the Conservation Commission, should make the choice for repair or removal of the dam.  Long after the work has been done and paid for, the town will have to live with the results.    

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Upcoming Events

Sign the citizen's petition!
We are circulating a citizen's petititon to put repair of the Fyfeshire dam on the Bolton town meeting agenda. (Town meeting is May 2.)  Removal of the dam is already on the agenda, so this petition would give voters a choice to vote for repair or removal.  You must be a registered voter in Bolton to sign.

If you would like to sign the petition, send an email to and we'll find a way to get you and the petition together.
The text of the petition is included below.

Friday, March 18 7:30 - 9:00
Bolton Police Station
Planning meeting of the Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds

Friday, March 25 7:30 - 9:00 
Bolton Police Station
Planning meeting of the Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bolton registered voters: sign the citizen's petition

We are circulating a petition to put repair of the Fyfeshire dam on the Bolton town meeting agenda. (Town meeting is May 2.)  Removal of the dam is already on the agenda, so this petition would give voters a choice to vote for repair or removal.

The wording of the petition is as follows:


The registered voters of Bolton, Massachusetts, whose signatures appear below, hereby petition the Board of Selectmen to place an article on the Warrant of the Annual Town Meeting of Bolton, to be held on May 2, 2011, "to see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $396,000 (Three hundred ninety-six thousand dollars) to fund the repair of the Fyfeshire dam and all costs incidental or related thereto; and that to meet said appropriation, the Treasurer, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, is authorized pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 44, Section 7 (9), or any other authority, to borrow up to that amount and to issue bonds or notes of the Town; provided, however, that this vote shall not take effect until the Town votes to exempt from the limitation on total taxes imposed by G.L. c.59, 21C(k) (Proposition 2 1/2) amounts required to pay the principal of and interest on the borrowing authorized by this vote; and that the Board of Selectmen be authorized to expend the monies so appropriated for the foregoing purposes; or do or act relating thereto."

The registered voters of Bolton, Massachusetts, whose signatures appear below, also request that the Board of Selectmen allow a committee comprising Edith Ablavsky, Kenneth Nicewicz and Martha Remington to modify the dollar amount in the warrant article, if, in the committee's belief, a modification is appropriate.

Signature        Printed Name           Street Address

Dam News
Yesterday the Clinton Item published an article outlining the current status and efforts to put repair of the dam on the town warrant.
View article: Fyfeshire Funding to Be Decided at Town Meeting.

In the same issue, the Item reports that at a meeting last week the Bolton Selectmen went through the articles for the May town meeting, including repair/removal of the Fyfeshire Dam. 
View article:  Selectmen Review Articles

The Bolton Common published an article outlining the Bolton Selectmen's meeting, including a description of several of the issues related to the warrant articles for repair/removal of the dam.
View article: Bolton Selectmen Get First Look at Town Meeting Warrant

See our In the News page for more articles related to Fyfeshire Dam. 

Upcoming Meetings
We will be holding meetings every Friday in March at 7:30 to strategize and coordinate activities. 

Supporters are welcome to attend. Check this page for up-to-date meeting times and locations. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In-depth article on the Fyfeshire dam issue

Yesterday's (Feb. 4) issue of the Bolton Common published an in-depth, front-page article about the issue of the dam. Recommended reading for anyone who wants to learn more about the issue. View article

Also, on the Bolton Common website, there is a poll asking whether you think the dam should be removed or repaired.  Go to, scroll down past the headlines, the photos and local video sections until you come to three columns--the third column on the right contains the poll. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Too much snow to take a walk?

Now you can tour the Fyfeshire conservation area virtually through the photo gallery on our What is Fyfeshire page. Do you have a favorite photo of Fyfeshire? Send it to or by mail to Edi Ablavsky, 525 Wattaquadock Hill Rd., Bolton (you'll get it back--promise!) and it may get added to the page.

You can also visit the history page for photos related to the history of the Fyfeshire conservation area.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Citizens' petition to be available for signing in February

We hope to have the citizens' petition--the petition that asks to have an article on the Warrant of the Annual Bolton Town Meeting on May 2, 2011 to repair the Fyfeshire dam--ready for signing in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for details as things develop.

In the meantime, if you would like to add your name to our list of supporters, send an email to To receive updates via email, please use the Join our Email list signup block to the right of this paragraph->.

Also, on Friday the Clinton Item published a letter to the editor about the ponds. You can find it and other news items related to the Fyfeshire Dam on our In the News page.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Petition signing postponed--meeting tonight still on

We just got word that the CITIZEN'S PETITION will not be ready for signing by tomorrow. So we won't be able to offer it for signature this weekend. It should be ready by mid next week. (The Citizen's Petition asks to have an article on the Warrant of the Annual Bolton Town Meeting on May 2, 2011 to repair the Fyfeshire dam.)

Instead, if you are a Bolton registered voter, send an email to stating that you are interested in signing the petition, and we will make sure someone gets it to you. Please include your phone number and address.

The Meeting is still on for tonight:

Friday, Jan. 28
7:00 p.m.

505 Wattaquadock Hill Rd. 
(home of Susan and Richard Tripp, corner of Wattaquadock and Ballville, across from the entrance to the Fyfeshire Conservation Area)

We will be holding a meeting to strategize and coordinate activities. All are welcome.

It is fitting that we should hold this meeting at Tripp's house, built in 1740 by the Fyfe family for whom the Fyfeshire Conservation area is named.
More about Fyfeshire's history

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Attend meeting on Friday evening

We will be holding our next meeting  to strategize and coordinate activities on:
Friday, Jan. 21
7:00 p.m.
Public Safety Building
(police station) on Wattaquadock Hill Rd.

Your ideas and participation are welcome. Go into the foyer and you will be buzzed into the meeting space.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So why is the state on Bolton’s case, anyhow?

In 2005 a dam in Taunton threatened to give way, causing the evacuation of 2000 residents.  This event put the state's Dam Safety Office on notice.  Dams throughout the state have come under much closer scrutiny. One result: a dam safety order requiring the town of Bolton to repair or remove the Fyfeshire Pond Dam on Wattaquadock Hill Rd.  The office of dam safety has classified the Fyfeshire Dam as a small size, significant hazard potential structure.  That means it may cause “loss of life and significant property damage in the event of a failure.” (View the Dam Safety Order to the town of Bolton—pdf format.)

On Tuesday, the state issued a report on the local financial impact of the Dam Safety Law, stating that out of 627 municipally owned dams in Massachusetts, 100 “relatively large” dams in 62 cities are in poor or unsafe condition.  Thirty-two of those are in Worcester County.  Most of those have been designated in "poor" condition, with six in the “unsafe” category, the lowest designation, including Fyfeshire Dam in Bolton.  An Associated Press article and link to the report can be found on the WBUR website (  Other facts relevant to the Fyfeshire Dam from this report:  level of maintenance is deemed “in poor level of upkeep, no operations and maintenance manual on file,” and emergency preparedness status is designated as “some idea of what to do in an emergency but no written plan.”

While I laud the intention of this law and agree that we need to take precautions to keep people safe, I question the implementation in this case.  The dam clearly needs maintenance—there is a big crack on the right hand side as you look through the dam toward Wattaquadock Hill Road. Yet the dam has withstood several large recent storms and high-water events without failing—although past performance is no guarantee of future results. 
The dam undergoing repairs in 1995. Note the crack in the wall on the right side.

Most of the dams on this list of 100 are at least 15 feet in height and impound at least 50 acre feet of water, according to the state report.  The example the report holds up as a worst-case scenario (not identified by name, but most likely Breeds Pond Outlet Dam in Lynn, MA) is a dam 50 feet high that sits over a densely populated neighborhood of homes, schools and businesses. 

Fyfeshire Dam, in contrast, is about 6 feet tall and impounds a 10.3-acre pond. There are only a handful of houses on high ground in the downstream path should the dam fail.  There IS Collins Road, and if a car is driving on that road and the dam fails, that car could be washed away.  That alone is reason enough to strengthen precautions against such an event.  But does it need to be as drastic as a half-million dollar repair or complete removal?  Why not start with updating the inadequate culvert running under Collins Road?  The state’s one-size-fits-all solution to dam safety defies common sense when applied to our little dam. 

One positive thing in the report is in the recommendations section.  Auditor Joe DeNucci is calling for creation of a no-interest revolving loan program to help cities and towns repair the dams.  That would be a very welcome helping hand indeed.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meeting Monday, Jan. 10, 7:00 p.m.

There will be a meeting on Monday, Jan. 10 at the home of Lee Galeski, 22 McNulty Drive (2nd house on the left after you turn off Wattaquadock) in Bolton.  Everyone interested in strategizing ways to save the Fyfeshire Ponds is welcome to attend.