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 fyfeshire@yahoo.com 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