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.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More of Yesterday's Sunset - Red Skies at Night!

These photos in from Area 1 taken from on the northern end of the lake. Thanks to the photographer who sent them in!

and the last

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blueberry Island

And here is another shot of Blueberry Island. Watching the fog form tonight with the fantastic sunset was a great November treat with the temp. staying around 60 degrees!

Fog and a Sunset of Red

With temperatures close to 60 F, a fog has settled on the lake as the sun sets.

Geese can be heard honking in the distance, but a look it their direction is clouded by fog and grey skies - the opposite of what we see here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Photos of the Bald Eagle on Manchaug Pond

Here's our adult bald eagle sitting in a tree in King's Family Campground last week.

Many thanks to the MPA member who sent them in! Beautiful!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

State Decides to Limit Boat Ramp Parking

The state Office of Fishing and Boating Access has set limitations to parking in state public access boat ramps.

Here are the numbers for our Manchaug Pond:

Total Trailer Spaces: 28
Maximum July 1 through August 31: 14
Maximum September 1 through June 30: 22

View today from the ramp looking north to the lake

and south to Holt Road.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Trees Being Removed from Dam's Earthen Side

Manchaug Dam

A report has come in that work is being done at the Manchaug Pond dam - brush cutting and the like.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Today - Wildlife Trackers Conference, Leominster

Wondering who or what is walking around your home in the early morning hours?

Do you hunt with a rifle, bow, camera or binoculars?

This conference could be just what you need to sharpen your skills!

November 7—Second Annual Wildlife Trackers Conference, Leominster— A 1-day conference held by Massachusetts Wildlife Trackers will take place on November 7, 2009, at the Doyle Conservation Center in Leominster. Peter Mirick, Massachusetts Wildlife Magazine editor, who will speak on "Wildlife Trends: A Century of Success in Massachusetts Wildlife Conservation." The conference will feature presentations on a wide variety of wildlife topics including Ecology and Food Habits of American Mink, Track and Sign Certification, Field Guide to Skulls and Bones, and, Wildlife Habitat and the Importance of Connectivity.

Bring a bag lunch and find out how fellow trackers have been using wildlife tracking in their work, share your experiences, and browse exhibits about other tracking-related resources. Registration information and materials are posted at For registration questions and information contact Jane Winn at (413) 442-6815 or

Thanks to an MPA member for submitting these great photos taken right here on the shore of Manchaug Pond!

By the way, this morning's temperature is 29 F. Chilly! Good day to attend the conference and track on a warmer day!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Eagle on Manchaug Pond

A phone call came in this morning at 8:30 am that the eagle was feeding on something on the large rocks in the channel. As I went across my neighbor's yard to take a picture, crows caused the eagle to fly.

Thanks for the call Jim! A beautiful sight! Here's the word of the day - Ineffable!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thursday's Beauty

Thursday morning the lake was like a mirror.

Just after lunch, a flock of Canada geese was seen feeding in the corn feed up on Lackey Road.

Before and after their meal, the flock is frequently seen having on Manchaug Pond.

Sunshine and late afternoon gray clouds brought a rainbow over the golf course.


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