Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tonight - An Eclipse of a Blue Moon!!

Space Weather News for Dec. 31, 2009

BLUE MOON ECLIPSE: For the first time in almost 20 years, there’s going to be a "Blue Moon" on New Year’s Eve. In Europe, sky watchers will witness an even rarer event—an eclipse of a Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve. What are the odds? Probabilities and observing tips may be found at

A "Blue Moon" is the occurrence of a full moon twice in one calendar month.

The moon Tuesday from the state boat ramp:

Wednesday in Douglas:

Wednesday from Torrey Road:

Last night I heard the moon looked awesome from across the lake. Today we are overcast and snowy with no visibility.

But it is happening!

On Dec. 31st, the Blue Moon will dip into Earth’s shadow for a partial lunar eclipse. The event is visible from Europe, Africa and Asia. At maximum eclipse, around 19:24 Universal Time, approximately 8% of the Moon will be darkly shadowed. Click the link for an animated preview

Blue Moons are rare (once every ~2.5 years). Blue Moons on New Year’s Eve are rarer still (once every ~19 years). How rare is a lunar eclipse of a Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve?

A search of NASA’s Five Millennium Catalogue of Lunar Eclipses provides an approximate answer. In the next 1000 years, Blue Moons on New Year’s Eve will be eclipsed only 11 times (once every ~91 years). So this is a rare event, indeed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

He's Jigging! Season's First Ice Fisherman

Taken today from the state boat ramp in Sutton, we sighted a first ice fisherman of the season on Manchaug Pond!

Also a report came in this morning of 0 degree F temperatures over on the Ledgestone side of the lake. Good for ice-making!

As the ice forms, the lake is also making its loud "whale" sounds!

Please be cautious! Consult the following link from MassWILDLIFE Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on Ice Strength & Safety Tips.

Here's a quick guide...

or less

4" Ice fishing or other activities on foot

5" Snowmobile or ATV

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Blessed Christmas to All!

Wishing all Manchaug Pond readers a very Merry Christmas!

with another photo from the 22nd.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Temps in the Single Digits This Morning

The skim of ice that was forming on the lake was broken up by the three days of wind we have had. The following photos taken yesterday at the north end show the lake is clear.

At the dam, the men from R. H. White continued the annual maintenance work - in the cold and wind.

Today the wind has died down but morning temperatures have dropped from yesterday's teens to the single digits. Was that 9 degrees F this morning? The ice is back today!

This cove will benefit from the drawdown as it fills with an invasive weed called fanwort.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Activity at the Dam Today!

Here's the post you've been waiting for.... The flow continues to take the waterlevel down exposing the stone face of the dam

allowing the annual fall maintenance to begin!

Three cheers for the dam owner!

(Photo taken at lunch time. The crew will be back working for a few days.)

ACCESS DENIED - Today's Telegram Article

This past spring, I have heard from two statewide groups that public access was their biggest upcoming issue. Check out today's article appearing from in the Worcester Telegram...

(click on to our post title to bring you to the site directly.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Access denied

Robert J. Kane of Clinton standing at the closed gate access to Wyman Pond in Westminster says he and others are gathering the required signatures for a petition demanding public access to the pond. (T&G Staff/RICK CINCLAIR)

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Hundreds of lakes and ponds on the state's list of great ponds should be accessible, under law, to the public. But each year state and local governments — or private entities in their own interest — either limit or ban access to one pond or lake after another.

Fishermen who have launched their boats at some great ponds for more than 50 years pull up one day to find a gate across the access road, some accompanied by a sign stating, “For residents only.”

Lake associations of homeowners living on the shore, and sometimes communities themselves, say measures restricting public access were taken for good reasons — to discourage nuisances such as trash and debris left behind or to pay for maintenance and safe management of the water.

Clinton resident and sportsman Robert J. Kane, 50, who has fished on many of the state's great ponds, fears that if such steps continue, far fewer of the state's great waters will be accessible to future generations.

“In the next 20 years, we'll have lost access to another dozen or so at least,” Mr. Kane said.

Many great ponds and lakes in the area, defined by the state as “ponds containing in their natural state more than 10 acres of land,” have restricted public access.

•At Spectacle Pond in Lancaster, the lake association installed a locked gate in 2000 that is opened and closed for two weeks in the spring and fall to allow homeowners on the lake to get their boats in and out of the water. The pond is still stocked by the state, but public access is limited to what can be carried in, making it nearly impossible for fishermen not living on the lake to get motorized boats on the water.

•In 2007, a sign was posted on Bare Hill Pond in Harvard limiting access to the beach area to town residents. The beach had been used by the public for years.

•On Mirror Lake in Devens in 2004, the town put a gate across the public access road, allowing only carry-in access for everyone — a measure taken to restrict partying at the site.

•In 2002, at the town beach on East Waushacum Pond off Swett Hill Road in Sterling, the town started requiring parking permits obtained with proof of residency. The measure effectively keeps out fishermen who had brought in their motorized boats for years. Opponents to the measure say with no parking available for those who do not live in town, fishermen would have to drop off their boats, take their vehicle and trailer home and get someone to bring them back to go fishing.

• In 2002, the state purchased a quarter-acre lot on South Meadow Pond in Clinton that included the public access road to the pond. This year, the state installed a gate, as required by a deed restriction, to block public access. The gate is opened in the spring and fall for homeowners to bring in and remove personal water craft and motorboats. Fishermen, who have launched boats from trailers for more than 50 years, are left outside the gate.

• On Wyman Pond in Westminster, the town said this year it would take control of a locked gate installed by the lake association at the only spot where there is public access and will ask the Police Department for help keeping the public out. Lake association members blame the public for the increase in invasive weeds in the pond — a problem they have paid more than $300,000 over the past five years to control — and for trash left at the site.

Mr. Kane, whose use of South Meadow Pond in Clinton has been blocked because he's restricted from launching his motorboat on the water, said the intention of state law (Chap. 131, Sec. 45) is that all people should be allowed a reasonable amount of access to great ponds.

“However, the attorney general isn't using it that way on our behalf. The law says everybody, and the state comes out and restricts access to people that don't live there — with our tax money,” he said, citing the state-installed gate at South Meadow Pond.

Signs and gates are one way of restricting access. Another is fees, Mr. Kane said, offering as an example the $35 one-time fee charged for access to Webster Lake, the second-largest in the state.The town of Webster says public use entails costs and responsibilities. Fees charged for lake access are set by the Board of Selectmen, said Town Administrator John F. McAuliffe. All money goes to maintain the beach area, he said, which includes additional police patrols, hiring lifeguards, landscaping, salary for a harbor master, and maintenance.

“It's not for the town to make money,” he said. “There are a lot of costs associated with it.”

Edward D. Himlan, executive director of the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition, which works with communities and municipalities on water and stream protection and restoration, said abutters to great ponds often see the public as a nuisance.

“The problem is that you get a lot of intrusion and folks that will come in and cause problems that are not living there,” he said. “It's not so much they want to keep it private as it is that they have to deal with a lot of nuisances if it is kept open to the public.”

Abutters also see the spread of invasive aquatic weeds as being caused primarily by the public.

“If you have motorboats on a lake, particularly a shallow lake, you make the situation a whole lot worse,” Mr. Himlan said. “The prop goes through and cuts the weeds into pieces across the lake and it can take root. It creates a situation where the boats are spreading weeds throughout the entire water body.”

Trash left behind by the public is also an issue, he said.

“It can get pretty bad. With people coming to fish and recreate — a whole set of things go along with that oftentimes for people living there, from loud, boisterous foul-mouth teenagers to people leaving dirty diapers, trash and debris on the lake front. It's not everybody,” he said, “but it only takes a few, and that's part of the problem with having public access to a water body.”

In 2006, Mr. Kane filed the first citizen's petition with the state attorney general's office on the issue in more than 30 years. It's a fight he began in 2003 when state officials blocked access to South Meadow Pond in Clinton. The second was filed this year by Lee residents over access to Sandy Beach on 150-acre Laurel Lake.

Schweitzer Mauduit International Inc. paper mill, which owned property used by the public to access the Lee beach for more than 80 years, closed down a year ago. The owners sold 3.5 acres that contained the Laurel Lake Dam and access road to the beach to Roger Scheurer, former manager at the mill. Mr. Scheurer changed the locks on the gate and demanded the town pay $10,000 for him to unlock it for the public last summer.

Deidre M. Consolati, a town meeting representative and chairwoman of the Sandy Beach Committee, said the town is still waiting for a ruling from the attorney general's office on the issue.

“All of a sudden there was a new owner and that was it,” she said. “It still remains unclear to us how someone could take a piece of property and turn away an entire town. The people felt robbed.”

The measure put a private interest ahead of public interest, she said. “This is an important ruling for the people of Massachusetts, because it's another example of a private interest trumping the public good.”

Harry Pierre, deputy press secretary in the state attorney general's office, said his office can only do what state law, Chap. 91, Sec. 18A, allows. “That is to seek to establish or protect a means of public access, not expand public access to additional or larger ways/routes that particular petitioners may favor,” he wrote in an e-mail interview.

The state works on behalf of the public when petitions are filed, he added. “We are doing that on Laurel Lake and we did that in Clinton,” he wrote.

Mr. Kane said the attorney general's office did nothing on his Clinton pond petition, claiming that the deed restriction prevents the state from allowing public access; the state agreed to the deed restriction in the first place, he added.

While acknowledging that public access had been established by continued use over many decades, the attorney general's office said it could not register an easement across state-owned property.

Mr. Pierre said there are no other recent petitions of which the attorney general's office is aware.

Mr. Kane said he and others are gathering the required 10 signatures for a citizens' petition demanding public access to Wyman Pond in Westminster as well as working on possible legislation to protect public access on all great ponds.

“It's the public's right that all persons should be allowed a reasonable amount of access to great ponds,” he said. “It's the law and we're not going to go away.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

As Joe tells us "The ice cometh!"

This photo was taken later in the day after that fiery sunrise.

What did the morning warning bring? Higher temperatures that afternoon which melted a bit of the snow... but I hear cold weather is in the forecast.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ice Forming on the Lake

Thanks to our young photographer for today's photos.

Monday, December 07, 2009

More Magical Manchaug Pond Wonderland!

More photos of our first snowfall, this time from the north end and our photographer from Area 1.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snow Has Fallen!

Snow has fallen here on Manchaug Pond making for a magical morning sunrise.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

This Morning's Moon over Old Holbrooks Campground

Thank you to our 1st Vice President for submission of this extraordinary shot!

MANCHAUG POND! Voted "Most Scenic" by readers of the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Another Photo of the Fog...

Here's the photo take by the secretary...

I have to agree with the reader's comment on the previous post that our guest photographer wins hands down!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Voters resoundingly back land-saving measure

Voters resoundingly back land-saving measure

SUTTON — In a special election yesterday, residents overwhelmingly approved, by a 441-83 vote, a debt exclusion to fund the town’s $280,000 share of the cost to place an agricultural preservation restriction on 314 acres owned by Whittier Farms.

“It’s a significant step to preserving a piece of Sutton’s history,” Town Administrator James A. Smith said. It also brings the town a step closer to solving its cell phone coverage problems. “It’s a win-win,” he said.

After the closing of the APR transaction with the state, the town plans to buy five acres from the Whittier’s for $24,000. The goal is to offset the town’s cost of the restriction with revenue generated by leasing the land to a cell carrier.

— Ruth Vecchione

Thank you to the Whittier Family for offering this gem to the community, to Sutton Town Administrator, James Smith, for heading up this effort, to Sutton Board of Selectman for supporting, and to you Sutton voters who came out for this single ballot item.

I would venture to say that a good portion of Whittier Hill's 314 acres lie in the 4,288 acres of Manchaug Pond's watershed. The Manchaug Pond - Watershed Survey conducted for the Manchaug Pond Association (MPA) by Comprehensive Environmental, Inc of Marlboro (CEI) in Spring 2005 notes the importance of land use throughout the watershed and further stresses the need for best management practices by all residents. Land conservation, open space, wildlife corridors is key to the future protection of the lake.

We applaud this partnership between land owner, community and town and state government to preserve this significant property.

Special thanks to our MPA Area 1 photographer for this stunning photo of Saturday morning's fog on Manchaug Pond.

Monday, November 23, 2009

ATTENTION SUTTON VOTERS! Vote YES and Protect Manchaug Pond Watershed

"Special Election Nov. 24 to protect Whittier Farms

The Town of Sutton is holding a special election on Tuesday November 24th, 2009 from 7am-8pm to consider a debt exclusion of $280,000, for the purpose of becoming a co-holder, with the State of Massachusetts, of an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) on 314 acres of land currently owned by Whittier Farms Inc. The APR program is a voluntary program that offers an alternative to owners of farmland who choose to see the property protected rather than sell it for development. The APR program offers to pay farmland owners the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their property in exchange for a permanent deed restriction that prevents the land from ever being developed for anything other than a farm purpose. The Whittiers are seeking the APR for 378 acres of land: 314 acres off Town Farm Road and Douglas Road in Sutton and 64 acres in Oxford.

The State Department of Agriculture has determined that the Town’s share to co-hold the APR is 10% of the State’s acquisition price. The special election on Tuesday November 24th, 2009 is for the voters to consider the debt exclusion of $280,000. If Town Meeting does not support this article or the voters turn down the debt exclusion then the Whittier’s will have the option of withdrawing from the APR agreement with the State and not protecting the 314 acres in Sutton.

In addition, if the debt exclusion vote passes, the Town will move forward with the purchase, for $24,000, of approximately 5-6 acres of land located at 150 Town Farm Rd, currently owned by Whittier Farms Inc, for the purpose of installing a cell tower. The property in question is located at the highest point in Town at an elevation of approximately 830 feet. Town bylaws restrict the locations of cell towers to Commercial and Industrial property or Town owned land held in the care and custody of the Board of Selectmen. Our goal is to construct a cell tower that will help address the lack of cell phone coverage in West Sutton and generate revenue from Cell carriers that will be used towards the debt service on the $280,000 borrowed to pay for the APR. The Town will need to vote annually at Town meeting to use revenues from the cell tower to offset the debt service from the debt exclusion vote.

The question on the November 24th ballot is as follows:

Shall the Town of Sutton be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition two and one-half, so-called, the amount required to pay for the bond issued in order to contribute funds to be used by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to acquire an agricultural preservation restriction held by the Town and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on property owned by Whittier Farms, Inc., located on Town Farm Road and Douglas Road, Sutton and containing a total of 314 acres, more or less?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Walkingstick - the Insect

This unusual insect was captured by our Area 1 photographer during last week's warmer weather.

Resembling a twig or stick, as they are 2 - 3+ inches long, they easily blend into the landscape - but are easily spotted on the house window.

The field guide tells us that all walkingsticks, including our Northern Diapheromera femorata, live in the deciduous woods and forests feeding on the foliage of trees and shrubs especially oaks and hazelnuts. Interesting is their "amazing ability to regenerate lost legs." "Females drop eggs singly. Eggs overwinter among ground litter and hatch in spring, when nymphs push open domelike ends of the eggs. Nymphs crawl up woody vegetation at night to reach edible foliage." Further it notes that their stick-like appearance camouflages them from birds seeking food during the day. And "when many femails are dropping eggs, the sound is like the pitter-patter of light rain."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Drawdown Continues. Patching the Road.

The dam owner continues to take Manchaug Pond's waterlevel down.

And some patch work is seen on the road.


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