Friday, December 24, 2010

French River Park Launch is Launched

On December 24, the French River Park boat launch arrived on site and was quickly installed. The launch is constructed of concrete blocks cabled together to make an articulated pad. You can follow development of the park here.

The contractor intends to proceed through the winter weather permitting, the next step being installation of the rain gardens.

Friday, November 19, 2010

2010 Water Quality Monitoring Report Now Available

The French River Connection's Water Quality Monitoring Report for 2010 is now available, along with an interactive google map with pop-up summary information on each site.

In general the year was characterized by historically low flows. In addition, the duration of highest water temperatures was longer than previously seen. These factors combined to produce low dissolved oxygen levels, occurring at more sites, at lower levels, for longer durations. There were twelve instances where state dissolved oxygen standards were not met. Similarly, conductivity was generally higher than in previous years, with particularly high levels at the Stateline, Commerce Parking Lot, both Mill Brook, Nancy Drive, and Old Mill Brook sites. There were 22 instances where state pH standards were not met. These occurred during high flow in March and April as well as during the warm months.

High nutrient levels were observed at the Stateline site, below the wastewater treatment plant.

We monitored during a storm in May and found slightly elevated turbidity throughout the watershed, measurable but not visually noticeable. However, the Potash Brook, Commerce Parking Lot, Mill Brook Webster Nursery, and Old Mill Brook sites were murky and exhibited mid-double-digit turbidity values, clearly carrying a sediment load. There were also instances of warm weather turbidity, with values in the low double digits at the Packard Pond, both Mill Brook, and Old Mill Brook sites. This has rarely been seen.

Other observations include:

In August, a beaver dam was started at the Mill Brook Bigelow Road site. At the end of our season, it was two feet high and its fate is under consideration by the town.

In the spring, we continued to observe that snow and sand has been pushed into the Commerce Parking Lot storm drain

From July on, flow was so low that a volunteer had to climb into the chasm that is the Low Pond outflow. It’s not unusual to have to do this a couple of times, but not five.

Potash Brook was dry on two occasions, and Packard Pond outflow was on one occasion not flowing enough to collect nutrient samples. Although flowing, Nancy Drive brook was once too shallow to sink the TROLL.

There is roadside trash accumulating around many sites, but only the Low Pond outflow is being used as a dumpsite for larger objects.

It continues to be striking how high individual temperatures found with the HOBOs can be, compared to the monthly collection of TROLL data taken in the morning, on days which may not be particularly hot.

Record high conductivity and the presence of oil slicks at the Mill Brook Webster Nursery site may indicate a developing problem. Cranston Print Works has ceased industrial activity there, and perhaps a problem which would have previously been seen is escaping notice.

Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers who made this work possible.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

2010 Water Quality Monitoring Campaign Ends

November 6 marked the last day of our 9 month water quality monitoring season. This year 21 volunteers took part, more than half of them for the first time.

The summer months were marked by an extended period of very low flow, with daily levels from mid-July until the end of September often ranking as the lowest recorded at the Webster USGS gauge for the date over many decades of operation. Low flows and high temperatures combined to reduce dissolved oxygen levels, and when the data is analyzed we expect we expect to see deeper and more extended summertime lows than we have seen since we began monitoring six years ago.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sign of the Times

Work as been proceeding on French River Park, with trees removed, the area leveled, water installed, and the parking lot ready for paving. On November 3, the required project sign was installed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ground Broken for French River Park

On October 13, ground was broken for French River Park, a 1.66 acre parcel in downtown Webster intended to anchor the Webster Riverwalk portion of the French River Greenway, with completion is planned for early summer 2011.

Features of the 1.66 acre park include accessible walking paths, picnic tables and benches, site lighting, a canoe/kayak launch, and water and power to support community events. There will be 23 parking spaces, and a bike rack. The shoreline will be stabilized and rain gardens installed for stormwater management. Plantings will consist of indigenous species appropriate to the river corridor. See an image of the plan here.

The Town of Webster and the French River Connection jointly hold a 15 year lease on the property.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Troop 147 Completes Leovich Landing

On September 25, members of Oxford Boy Scout Troop 147 and family members gathered at 52 Dudley Road in Oxford, to complete work on the Leovich Landing project where a canoe/kayak launch was installed earlier in the year. The work is the Eagle project of scout Josh Escobar. It included leveling the parking lot, planting junipers and daffodils at the entrance, construction of a fence, preparation of a picnic area, and installation of a new sign. More than fifty people took part in the event.

Leovich Landing was purchased in 2009 by the Dudley Conservation Land Trust. Troop 147 joined a collaboration of the Land Trust, the French River Connection, the Last Green Valley, the town of Oxford, and the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the work. Many local businesses and volunteers provided funding, materials and services to make the project a success.Among them are Ron Rheault Construction, Sam Hicks Paving, Bonsal American, J.S. Lane Asphalt and Gravel companies, Robbins Garden Center, and Wal-Mart

Monday, September 20, 2010

French River Park Project Moves Ahead

The French River adjacent the French River Park site is the home of Triangle Floater and Creeper mussels, listed by the state as species of special concern. In order to protect them, we are required to move any we can find upstream prior to starting construction. Above, mussel scientist Sean Werle is on the hunt. It was not expected that many would be found because mussels had been translocated from this area several years ago prior to a remediation project on the opposite bank, and that proved to be the case.

The construction contract for the park was won by Webster contractor Henry Ceppetelli. With the mussel project completed, we can look forward to an October start on the park, with completion in Spring 2011.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Water Temperature Logging Ends For the Season

Since May, four temperature data loggers have been patiently recording the temperature of the French River every 15 minutes, awaiting cooler weather and a chance to rest. After more than 11000 recordings each, the loggers were rescued September 16. The record of their findings is shown above, located at Clara Barton Road, Dudley Road, Harwood Street, and Brandon Road. The temperatures were generally higher upstream, touching nearly 90 F on one occasion at Clara Barton Road. Both that location and Dudley Road showed 7-day rolling average maximums above 83F for several days, exceeding the state standards for a warm water fishery.

Our TROLL and colorimeter data collection continues until November, with flow rates. remaining at historic lows.

French River Day held September 18

Frank, Nancy and Charles are shown above sharing a chuckle at French River Day, held September 18 at Buffumville Park from 3 until 6. Approximately a dozen members enjoyed good food and good company. Thanks to Elaine Parker for organizing the day and to the USACE and Jean Hixson for hosting.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Completion of Leovich Landing in sight

On September 8, the base layer for the parking lot was put down and rolled, and the curb which keeps road run-off headed for the storm drain was installed, as were the two asphalt parking aprons. During the next two weeks we will take delivery of the parking lot top course of gravel, and get the fence post holes dug.

On September 25, Oxford Boy Scout Troop 147 will come on site to essentially finish the job, including

Spread the gravel top coat on the parking lot
Erect the fence
Put up a new sign
Assemble and install the picnic table on a wood chip base
Plant and mulch the oval
Edge the path to the ramp
Miscellaneous clean up

We are continuing to get wonderful in-kind donations and discounts from local businesses, helping us stay on budget.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thompson Cleanup Completed

Although this year's Thompson French River cleanup was cancelled by the organizers, that didn't stop us from working on "our" section from Perryville to Wilsonville. We found very little lightweight trash like plastic bottles, so we left them for another time and concentated on heavyweight items: two pickup truck doors, a large compressed gas tank, a waterlogged couch cushion, and the usual assortment of tires and bicycles. On August 26 Norma O'Leary and grandsons Karlin and Jarrett Thomas helped drag out the last of it and carry it to the recycling center.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Leovich Landing Launch Installed

On Aug 12, volunteers installed the canoe/kayak launch at Leovich Landing, accomplishing one of the major goals of the project. The launch was constructed by Lavallee Construction from granite curbstones donated by the town of Oxford. Volunteers included Charles Perzanoski, Jean Hixson, Tom Ryzewski, Janet Blanchette, and Dick Kister.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

French River Day Picnic September 18

Our annual members picnic will be held at Buffumville Lake Saturday September 18 3-6pm, rain or shine. We will supply hamburgers, hot dogs, condiments, plates, and utensils.

Please bring a potluck dish, dessert, or beverages to share.

Bring chairs!

If you're planning to attend, please RSVP to Elaine or call 508-943-2698, and let her know what you'll be bringing.

For directions and other information, click here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dam Trail Race Run August 7

Over 120 runners left the starting line at 9am August 7 to compete in two simultaneous races held at Hodges Village.
The weather was perfect, and the runners appreciated the clear marking of the course. And we appreciate our many volunteers who assisted in making this a smooth and safe event, our sponsors whose contributions made this our most successful fundraising event ever and our other supporters who generously provided food and prizes. Thank you all!

Special gratitude is due to Race Director John Grenier and his team for all their hard work in making this such a success.

Bike Raffle Winner

Ernie Benoit is the winner of the Bike raffle! His winning ticket was drawn from approximately 300 at the Dam Trail Race. Ernie can redeem his prize at Southbridge Bicycles. Thanks to all who bought tickets.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

French River Park Gets Funded

On July 8, the offices of state legislators Moore and Kujawski announced funding for French River Park in Webster through the Community Development Block Grant program. This funding has enabled us to kick off final design and bid package preparation, and should mean that shovels can go in the ground this year. Time will tell if completion must wait until spring.

Features of the 1.66 acre park include accessible walking paths, picnic tables and benches, site lighting, a canoe/kayak launch, and water and power to support community events. There will be 23 parking spaces, and a bike rack. The shoreline will be stabilized and rain gardens installed for stormwater management. Plantings will consist of indigenous species appropriate to the river corridor.

Perryville Trace is One in a Thousand

The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism has announced a list of "1000 Greatest Places in Massachusetts", as determined by an appointed commission. Among their selections is our own Perryville Trace, located at the French River bridge on Perryville Road in Webster. The bridge is currently closed for construction, but the Trace is open. Visitors may have to make their way around construction vehicles.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dam Trail Race Welcomes Sponsors

This year for the first time we have sought sponsors for the Dam Trail Race to be held August 7 at Hodges Village in Oxford. Hometown Bank, North Oxford Mills, Wilson Language Training, Industrial Packaging Supply, and Central Massachusetts Podiatry have joined Polar Beverages as sponsors. We are very grateful for their contributions, and hope to make this the best Dam Trail Race yet.

This year an 11.5 and a 5 mile course will be run simultaneously. There will be cash prizes for the overall male and female winners of each race, and special prizes for the top finishers from the French River watershed. Age group and random draw prizes will consist of baked goods, Dick's Sporting Goods gift certificates, and other items.

The starting gun goes off at 9am sharp. Runners may preregister, or enter on race day beginning at 7:30.

More information

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Leovich Landing Clears Permitting Hurdles

On June 19, Leovich Landing cleared the last permitting hurdle, with receipt of a determination from the Department of Environmental Protection's Waterways Regulation Program that no permit is needed for the boat launch. Earlier in the week, the The State Historical Commission determined that work on the site was unlikely to affect historical or archaeological resources. This clears the way for The Last Green Valley to give us the go-ahead to incur costs and count in-kind contributions specified in the grant we received. Time to get moving!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beavers Beware

On June 16 the French River Connection received a $500 donation from Wal-Mart to purchase wire to protect trees threatened by beavers. So far in 2010, we have already protected 100 trees with wire mostly donated by Home Depot. This will allow us to continue the program, which has proven to be a good way to introduce youth groups to the river.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Perryville Trace Gets an Upgrade

On May 15, these members of the Shepherd Hill Environment Committee pitched in to make the Perryville Trace better for walkers and less attractive to beavers. Club members addressed a long-standing problem by constructing a causeway over a narrow strip between the river and an uncertified vernal pool, adding flat stones found on-site to make dry stable footing at high water. They also protected approximately 40 trees from beavers by wrapping them with welded wire.

We are always eager to work with young people; it was an enjoyable and productive day, and we are grateful for their help.

Earlier in the Spring, French River Connection members installed pipe under a section of the Trace that gets wet from Brookside Avenue runoff to carry the water away, and cleaned up trash from the riverbanks on both sides of the River above Perryville.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Last Green Valley Grant Received

On May 14, we received a grant award from The Last Green Valley for development of Leovich Landing, in the amount of $6000. This will be matched by donations of material, equipment and labor. Work cannot start until we sign a contract with the grantor, which we hope will not be long. We also are awaiting a determination that we do not need a Chapter 91 Waterways permit for the launch, which is expected before the end of the month.

We're grateful to The Last Green Valley for selecting us; approximately one in four requests were funded. We couldn't have gotten to this point without J&D Civil Engineers doing the work (at a significant discount) to make us "shovel ready". We're also grateful to all who helped estimate the work and who have offered in-kind donations, and to those who wrote letters of support: The town of Oxford, the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and state Senator Richard T. Moore.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Leovich Landing gets funds

Wal-mart has awarded $1000 to the Dudley Conservation Land Trust for the Leovich Landing stewardship account, which will be used for development of the site. Thanks to Carol Colena for making this happen.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bike Raffle Tickets Available

We are raffling off a men's or women's Specialized Carmel 700 bicycle donated by Southbridge Bicycles.

Tickets are $5.00 or three for $10.00

The winner will by drawn at the Dam Trail Race on August 7.

Read the bike spec and see a larger image.

Visit our website to purchase tickets and support our projects!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Agenda Set for Annual Meeting

French River Connection Annual Meeting

April 14, 7pm

Black Tavern, Center Road, Dudley


7:00 Grab a cookie

7:10 Welcome---Ken

7:15 Minutes of January 2010 meeting---Elaine

7:20 Treasurer’s Report---Sheila

7:25 Water Quality Monitoring Certificates---Ken

7:30 Brief Progress Summary---Ken

7:45 Guest Speaker: Delpha Very, Putnam CT Office of Economic and Community Development Ms. Very will describe her experiences developing the riverfront in Putnam CT. Her “lessons learned” will help us develop public riverfront.

8:15 Bike raffle kick-off---Ken

8:25 Election of Directors

3 year term--Tim Bell, nominations from the floor

3 year term--Ken Parker, nominations from the floor

1 year term--nominations from the floor, must be willing to serve

8:40 Other business

8:50 Adjourn for refreshments


There will be a short board meeting immediately following.

New members are invited to join at this meeting only at a 50% discount, and receive a screensaver

Notecards and bike raffle tickets will be available for purchase.

Leovich Landing Project Moves Ahead

J&D Civil Engineers have completed engineering of Leovich Landing in Oxford. The site includes a canoe/kayak launch, parking lot, revegetation of the area cleared of invasives, a fence to delineate the parking lot, stormwater control, and a picnic area. J&D donated much of the effort for the plans. The plan was approved by the Oxford Conservation Commission on April 21

A grant request for part of the funding has been submitted to The Last Green Valley. We have been fortunate to obtain committments for donations of services and materials to match any grant award on a one to one basis.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We're Approved

On Monday March 8, the Webster Conservation Commission approved our French River Park engineering plan with standard conditions, that is no modifications, simply the application of best management practices to protect the river during construction. On April 30, a plan to protect mussels in the river during construction was approved

On Wednesday March 10, MASS DEP approved our Water Quality Monitoring Quality Assurance Project Plan through 2012. There are document maintenance edits required every year, but real changes are becoming few and far between.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2010 Water Quality Monitoring Campaign Underway

On March 6, the French River Connection began its sixth water quality monitoring campaign on the French River and its tributaries. We visit 15 sites once per month from March through November. This year we started with young volunteers who work with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Shown using the TROLL 9500 at Clara Barton Road are Oxford residents Nicole Giles and Adam Carrier. Dodging the photo was park ranger Jean Hixson

Saturday, February 13, 2010

French River Park Grant Application Submitted

On February 12, the Webster Office of Community Development submitted an application for the next round of Community Development Block Grant funding, which includes approximately $290,000 for French River Park. In order to demonstrate readiness to proceed, considerable engineering, cost estimating, and submission of permits was required in the last month by our engineers, Lenard Engineering of Auburn.

There is a very long list of people to thank for getting this far, but here is a good time to mention our membership and friends who have done the hard work over the last five years, whether related directly to the park or not, which has enabled us to show that this is a project which has gained community support and fits in with other goals. With the Office of Community Development also including funding for a downtown facade and signage program, there is a lot of synergy within the application.

While it is possible that the project will be done in 2010, that requires everything to fall into place optimally, so 2011 is more realistic.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We're Accepting Credit Cards

The French River Connection is now able to accept credit cards on its website for payment of membership dues and donations. Visitors to the site may also pay through PayPal. Those who prefer may still put a check in the mail.

Here is the payment page:
Membership and Donations

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Step for French River Park

On January 11, the Webster Office of Community Development held a public hearing to announce the projects for their next grant application due in February, among them French River Park. If successful, engineering would be completed in 2010 and a contractor selected to implement the park in Spring 2011.

Shoreline Survey Published

The French River Connection has completed a Shoreline Survey of the river between Greenbrier Park in Oxford and the Connecticut line. The Survey results are implemented in Google Maps. Click on any section of the map to see a Narrative Description, Recommended Actions, and the Survey Data. The survey was begun in 2005. Thanks to all the surveyors, and to Tom Ryzewski and Andrew LaBonte for shaping it up for publication.