Blackstone River Watershed Association
Annual EarthDay Cleanup
A hearty THANK YOU to everyone who contributed
to a very successful EarthDay Cleanup on April 19th! We had nearly
200 volunteers working at 36 sites in ten towns throughout the
watershed. Very impressive! It was a beautiful day for individuals,
families, scouts, and community groups to pitch in along shorelines
and in waterways of the Blackstone River Watershed.
Earth Day Cleanup volunteers hard at work.
Ideally, we would not have enough trash in our wetlands, streams,
ponds, and rivers to keep 200 people busy for the afternoon. But
alas, volunteers pulled out enough general litter to fill 210 garbage
bags! They also removed tires, household items, electronics,
furniture, car parts, hazardous waste, and construction debris.
Some volunteers cleaned up evidence of bathroom remodeling work
including two toilets, two sinks, a baseboard heating element,
and bathroom tiles! At least one item, an old wooden wagon wheel, was
taken from the trash heap to be repurposed by a happy passerby. The
real prize, however, goes to BRWA Board Member Joy Trahan, who pulled
a wrapped pot roast out of the water at Plummers Landing in Northbridge??
Volunteers at Plummer's Landing
Our dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers worked in Millbury
(the Blackstone River and Broad Meadow Brook), Grafton
(the Quinsigamond River, the Blackstone River, Hovey Pond, Axtell
Brook, and Silver Lake), Upton (the West River), Sutton (Lakey Dam),
Northbridge (Meadow Pond, the Mumford River, and the Blackstone River),
Uxbridge (the Blackstone Canal and River in and around River Bend Park,
the West River, and the Mumford River), Mendon (Rock Meadow Brook),
Douglas (the Mumford River), Hopedale (Hopedale Pond), and Blackstone
(Fox Brook and the Blackstone River).
Removing this trash keeps waterways open for fish and wildlife, and for
paddlers and anglers. The EarthDay Cleanup also improves the water
quality of the Blackstone River by removing potential sources of
contamination like the container of weed killer Round-Up found in
Broad Meadow Brook in Millbury. The BRWA urges people to dispose of
their general and hazardous garbage properly. Contact your town's
health department for information on how to recycle or dispose of
paint, electronics, lawn or pool chemicals, auto parts, and remodeling
Following the cleanup, volunteers gathered at River Bend Farm’s Visitor
Center in Uxbridge for pizza and refreshments provided by the BRWA with
support from Hannafords of Uxbridge, Next Step Living, and Homefield
Credit Union. Please thank these sponsors if you have the chance.
Peter Coffin shares the workings of a watershed and ways to
protect it at the Alternatives/BRWA Clean & Green Fair.
As part of the annual EarthDay Cleanup, the BRWA partnered with
Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. to sponsor a Clean and Green Fair at River
Bend Farm. Volunteers viewed displays and demonstrations about watershed
protection and terracycling. Seedling plantings and children’s
activities were also provided. Next Step Living provided information
on solar energy and more. Thank you to Alternatives for all their
effort with the fair!
First Annual Family Fun Fishing Day
More than 100 people came to River Bend Farm in
Uxbridge on May 2 to enjoy the BRWA's first family fun fishing day,
jointly sponsored by Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. As the photos
illustrate, the weather was beautiful and the fish were jumping!
George Peterson, Commissioner of the Mass Department of Fish and Game
was on hand to welcome the eager anglers.
The BRWA is extremely thankful for the loan of 50 rods and reels from
the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. In addition, instruction on
casting was expertly provided by staff from the Mass Department of
Conservation and Recreation and by members of Trout Unlimited Central
Massachusetts Chapter. Trout Unlimited also arranged for LL Bean to
generously donate a fly rod kit as the grand raffle prize for the
event! One of the youngest anglers came decked out in her tutu!
Besides being so fabulously dressed, she was thrilled to reel in a 5"
bluegill. Fishing, fun, and fashion - what a fabulous combination!
A Day on the Blackstone
On Saturday, June 6, the BRWA will host
“A Day on the Blackstone.” The event will begin at the Mass DCR's River
Bend Farm Visitor Center in Uxbridge with a one-mile walk along the
Blackstone Canal. The event will continue with a leisurely paddle from
Stanley Woolen Mill in Uxbridge to the Blackstone Gorge in Blackstone
- a distance of about eight river miles.
Photo by: Susan Thomas
Along the way National Park Service Ranger Chuck Arning will talk about
the importance of the Blackstone River and Canal to the American
Industrial Revolution, share some folklore about the Blackstone Valley
and give commentary at historical sites along the way.
This event will be limited to 30 canoes/kayaks and is open to all skill
levels from beginner to expert paddlers. Shuttle service will be
provided by Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. The cost of $25/person
includes shuttle service, insurance, a commemorative t-shirt, a snack
provided by Goretti’s Supermarket, and pizza following the event.
Canoes will be available for use for an additional fee of $10. Please
bring your own water.
A “Meet and Greet” with Ranger Chuck Arning will be held on May 27, 2015
at River Bend Farm Visitor Center from 6:45-8:00 p.m. Ranger Chuck will
go over basic safety issues, changes that have occurred to the
Blackstone River because of the snow melt, and safety considerations in
some winding sections of the river. Attendance is highly recommended,
especially for beginner paddlers.
To register, go to
Deadline for registration is May 27, 2015.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
May in National Meditation Month.
What better place to seek inner peace than near a stream or pond in
springtime when the ephemeral spring wildflowers are blooming, the trees
are leafing out, the warblers are migrating through, and the butterflies
Blackstone Paddle Club.
A guided tour along the Turner Reservoir and Ten
Mile River. 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. 215 Ferris Ave, Rumford, RI.
Blackstone River Watershed Council Annual Meeting.
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Environmental Center- Sycamore
Landing 100 New River Road, Manville, RI.
Green Infrastructure and Green Jobs Webcast.
Center for Watershed Protection. "This webcast will
feature several programs around the country, and will highlight best
practices for these types of programs, as well as critical lessons
Blackstone Paddle Club.
A guided tour along the Quinsigamond River.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Launch from Riverview Apts, Grafton, MA.
BRWA's "A Day on the Blackstone Meet and Greet
with Ranger Chuck Arning.
6:45-8:00 p.m River Bend Farm Visitor Center
For event participants. See above for more information.
BRWA Board Meeting.
6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 287 Oak St., Uxbridge.
2015 International Meeting of the Society of
Wetland Scientists: Changing Climate, Changing Wetlands: Climate Impacts
to Wetlands and the Role of Wetlands in Climate Change Adaptation and
Providence, RI. "This conference will examine the
role that wetlands play in the global carbon cycle, how wetlands provide
climate adaptation services, and how wetlands are being impacted by our
changing climate. Click here
to register or for more info.
Celebrating Botanical Research!
Botanical Club. Smith College, Northampton, MA. "Northeast botanists
will showcase their activities and research, and botanical societies will
brainstorm on opportunities for future research and collaboration." Free.
Central Mass Chapter Trout Unlimited Monthly Meeting.
6:30 -9:00 p.m. Auburn Sportsman's Club. 50 Elm Street, Auburn, MA.
Blackstone Paddle Club.
A guided tour along the along the River Bend Farm
Canal. 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Launch from River Bend Visitor Ctr, Uxbridge, MA.
BRWA's "A Day on the Blackstone".
See above for more information.
Mass Wildlife Free Fishing Weekend:
No license required for freshwater.
THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL
Endangered Species Day
May 15th is the day set aside to consider the
country's "imperiled" species - both plant and animal. The Mass Natural
Heritage & Endangered Species Program is charged with monitoring and
protecting these valuable state resources from Cape Cod to the Berkshires.
Currently, over 400 species are state listed as endangered, threatened,
or of special concern including the Blanding's turtles and blue-spotted
salamanders, both of which use a variety of wetland and woodland habitats.
Biologists with the NHESP conduct surveys, provide public education, and
manage land that provides essential habitat for listed species. For more
information, or to support this vital program, go to
Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale)
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
Taking on Climate Change
in MA: Update
Earlier this year, the Massachusetts House and
Senate put forth bills (H.752; S. 451) that called for the
"establishment of a comprehensive adaptation management plan in response
to climate change." This proposed legislation was referred to the Joint
Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on April 15.
Elements of the Act include the following: "effective prioritization for
the resiliency, preservation, protection, restoration and enhancement of
the commonwealth’s built and natural infrastructure", "a commitment to
the adherence of sound management practices which shall take into account
the existing natural, built and economic characteristics", and data on
such things as drought, temperature change, and inland flooding. These
are all relevant to the Blackstone River and its watershed.
The bill calls for the formation of a Comprehensive Adaptation Management
Plan Advisory Commission that will include, among others, stakeholders
and representatives with expertise in water supply and quality,
recreation, ecosystems dynamics, and rivers and wetlands. It also calls
for the development of regional plans that will include, among other
things, an understanding of regional characteristics, including regional
The language of the bill repeatedly makes the connection between
environmental and economic conditions and priorities. This is something
conservation proponents have long been advocating for with mixed success.
For example, intact, functioning wetlands provide a measurable economic
return to local communities through flood control, water quality, erosion
control, and recreation revenue to name a few. Policy leaders have been
slow or reluctant to embrace this reality until the current focus on
climate disruption. Better late than never?
A Fish and Wildlife Climate Action Tool is being developed by Mass DFW
and UMass Amherst. Its purpose is to assist a variety of stakeholders to
"maintain healthy, resilient natural resources and communities by
providing easy access to spatially relevant climate change information
and adaptation guidance. Based on your location and management needs,
the tool will deliver information on climate change impacts and
vulnerability, and identify potential adaptation strategies to begin
addressing these challenges." You can provide input on the design at
this survey site:
Grading our Lawmakers
In April, Mass Audubon released it most current
Legislative Report Card detailing the actions of state representatives
and senators on ten priority House roll calls and 14 priority senate
roll calls. Drinking water, wastewater, energy efficiency, and
environmental funding were key elements in the Report Card. Both the
House and Senate were given average grades above 90. The full report
can be found at:
Discovering Skull Rock Lock
By Pieter DeJong, BRWA Board Member
A nature walk is often not about a goal but about
enjoying the path taken. This hike along the Blackstone Canal is a bit of
both—the goal being to locate the remains of the Skull Rock Lock and find the
carved stone depicted in the picture below. It’s the bottom hinge stone upon
which the wooden gate would swing shut behind cargo barges on the Blackstone
Canal, allowing the water to rise to the next level in the lock system. This
is a great hike for families—giving the kids a history lesson and the goal of
finding that keystone.
Can you find this stone?
Today, finding a lock along the Blackstone seems like an easy activity, but
the Skull Rock Lock has seen better days. Unlike the Millville Lock, the next
lock downstream, which is the best preserved of all the locks along the
Blackstone Canal, most of the stone walls of Skull Rock Lock have collapsed
into the bed of the canal.
The hike starts at the parking area off Route 122 between Uxbridge and
Millville (1.6 m south of Rte. 16, on your left; 2.8 m north of Central
Street, on your right). Near the parking area guard rail, you’ll see the
erosion controls put in place where a storm sewer line was recently
constructed. Take the first trail to your left, which is marked with three
blue ribbons, and you’ll be walking along the east side of the old canal—on
the old towpath. You will follow the canal through a hemlock and pine
woodland before transitioning to an upland hardwood forest. Note the skunk
cabbage along the wetter soils in the bottomlands, as well as the woodland
ferns sending up their “fiddleheads”.
Next, you’ll come to the remains of an old stone bridge that once crossed the
canal. You can cross the canal on the remaining stones or scramble up the
hill to a more defined trail on the west side of the canal. Either trail will
take you to Skull Rock Lock. Keep an eye out for evidence of beaver activity
evident on trees and shrubs along the trail. Further downstream, near a
tributary to the Blackstone, the beavers have constructed a dam and beaver
lodge. Soon, you will notice where the canal would have entered into the
Blackstone River. Unlike many other canals, the Blackstone Canal utilized
sections of the Blackstone River wherever there were no rapids and where adequate
depth was available for the barge traffic. The lock was constructed just
upstream of that connection to the Blackstone River.
The life span of the Blackstone Canal was brief—just over twenty years. The
rise of the mill towns throughout the Blackstone Valley created the need for
better transport from the Port of Providence to Worcester. Overland travel on
poor 19th century roads was time consuming and expensive. Construction of the
canal began in 1825 and was finished in 1828. Upwards of 1000 immigrants,
mostly Irish, hand dug the canal using carks, picks, iron bars, and shovels.
Forty-eight stone locks were constructed along its 45-mile length. The locks
were only 10-feet wide with 80-feet between the large oak gates on either
end. The average lift of a lock was 9–10 feet. The demise of the Blackstone
Canal came soon after the Providence and Worcester Railroad was completed in
1847; the railroad was cheaper, faster, and could operate year round.
So—did you find the hinge stone for the bottom gate at Skull Rock Lock? Let
us know how it went. Send us your photos and text to
firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you enjoy the hike!
“It is not half so important to know as to feel.” Rachel Carson
There is so much charming about this sculpture, located at the Himalayan
Garden and Sculpture Park in North Yorkshire, England. Dragonflies are
a fascinating, impressive group of insects with their keen hunting
skills and beautiful design. The placement of this aerial mating pair
among the marsh grass adds a realism not found in indoor sculpture
exhibits. And the way the photograph captures the reflection lends a
whole other level of magic to the artwork.
Views & opinions expressed in linked websites do not necessarily
state or reflect those of the BRWA.
Your input is crucial to this eNewsletter. If you have a local
watershed-related story, information of interest to our subscribers, or
comments about this publication, drop an email to the editor.|
The Blackstone River Watershed Association (BRWA) has a mission to
engage, educate, and advocate for improved water quality in the Blackstone
River Watershed; its objectives are to:
The BRWA eNewsletter is published monthly by the Blackstone River Watershed
Association. BRWA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
- Engage the public in watershed stewardship activities,
- Educate members, supporters, and residents on watershed protection strategies, and
- Advocate to local residents, community leaders, non-profit partners, and
state regulators to take actions that will help to ensure our waterways continue
to provide healthy habitat and enjoyable recreational opportunities.
Editor: Susan Thomas email@example.com
Mailing address: BRWA, 271 Oak Street Uxbridge, MA 01569
Phone: 508-278-5200 Web: www.thebrwa.org
Click here for back issues.