Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Perryville Trace Sign Restored

Users of the Perryville Trace in Webster will note the familiar trailhead sign is back. The sign was vandalized during the summer, but was rebuilt by Charles Perzanoski and replaced with the help of Charles, Ed Bazinet, and Mike Branniff. The sign had gone undamaged for three years. Let's wish it a long second life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

TROLL Water Quality Monitoring Report Available

A summary report of our 2011 TROLL Water Quality Monitoring Report is now available. Results for the watershed will be published in the coming months by The Last Green Valley.

Many thanks to all our volunteers who make this work possible.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

French River Connection Receives IPG Photonics Donation

On November 15, the French River Connection received an unsolicited donation of $500 from IPG Photonics in Oxford. IPG has helped us in the past, most recently in 2009, and it is gratifying that riverside commercial enterprises are supportive of our work.

IPG Photonics is the world's leading provider of high power fiber lasers and fiber amplifiers that are revolutionizing performance and utility in an array of materials processing, telecommunications, medical and other advanced applications.

Many thanks to IPG for their generosity.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

French River Park Fall Cleanup

On November 12, French River Connection members Jean Hixson and Marvin and Helen Kesner spent the morning preparing French River Park for winter. Before the morning was over, they had filled twelve construction bags with leaves, twigs, and flower stems. There will be other work days in the spring to shape up the Park for summer. Thanks to these members for their hard work.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011 Water Quality Monitoring Comes to an End

November 5 marked the last day of water quality monitoring for 2011. Temperatures below freezing posed a challenge early in the day, but the team from the Shepherd Hill Environment Club persevered, collecting high quality data as usual from 15 sites. Here, Stephanie St. George and Kendra Faldetta sample Potash Brook in Dudley. We have now collected seven year's worth of data on the French River and its tributaries. Thanks to all our volunteers (approximately sixty!) who have participated over the years.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Water Quality Monitoring Continues

With the new school year, once again we have Shepherd Hill Environment Club students filling out our TROLL teams. It's always a pleasure to work with these fine young people and their adviser, Judy Nawrocki. Here, Ben White and Molly Helock collect data in at Old Mill Brook in Oxford

This has been an unusual year on the river. Generally, August data would be taken with the river and tributaries barely flowing. This year they were near flood stage.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

French River Park Opening Day August 20

At last the day arrived, bright and sunny, and with plenty of water for a duck race. The day was enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, and our volunteers did a fantastic job. Hats off to them. You can view a slideshow of the day here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

French River Park Nears Completion

The sign is up

and the lights are on
at French River Park, almost ready for opening day August 20. The ribbon cutting is at 11am, followed by an afternoon of music and family fun.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Perryville Trace Walk

The second Trace walk of the summer was conducted August 13, with Elaine Parker leading seven walkers through the woods. They were treated to a nice aerial display by two blue herons.

Oxford Boy Scout Troop 147 was seen portaging Perryville Dam, having launched from French River Park.

The Perryville trace is located in Webster, where Perryville Road crosses the river. It is listed as one of "1000 great places in Massachusetts" by the state department of tourism.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More Sponsors Join French River Park Opening Celebration

Two more sponsors, Hometown Bank and Commerce Bank and Trust Company, have signed on to sponsor the Opening Day Celebration August 20. In addition many, many businesses have contributed smaller amounts or drawing prizes. The response to that fundraising effort has been extremely gratifying.

Dam Trail Race a Success Again

The gun went off at 9am August 6 on the annual Dam Trail Race at Hodges Village, the French River Connection's major annual fundraising event. Once again, approximately 120 runners ran one of two courses, five-plus or ten-plus miles, designed by Race Director John Grenier. Prizes were awarded for men and women in each age class for each of the two races. This year, the race was supported by sponsorship donations from Oxford companies Fabrico, Industrial Packaging Supply, and Wilson Language Training. There were eight food sponsors, and a dozen French River Connection volunteers joined other race volunteers to make this a successful event.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Park Opening Banner Goes Up At Town Hall

A 20 foot banner, produced by the Party Planner, has gone up on the lawn at town hall. The logo was designed by by Ryan Wade. You'll also see signs announcing the opening of the park in the windows of many businesses, or in some cases, inside. Many of these businesses have made donations of cash or drawing prizes. They will be listed on a sign at the event.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

French River Maintenance

Many jobs keeping the river and its shoreline pleasant and accessible take only a few man-hours each and never become the subject for a full volunteer workday, but they are important nonetheless. In recent weeks we have cleaned two sections of river, and since they have been cleaned before, were able to guage how fast trash accumulates. "Our" section of the French in Thompson, from Perryville to Wilsonville, was cleaned up again after only a year, and the "take" was approximately a wheelbarrow load, with no tires or large heavy objects. This is a place that a few years ago yielded over 60 tires. We also cleaned in Webster near the new French River Park, which was last cleaned in 2006, when many tons of trash and dozens of tires were removed. This year there were 16 tires, which seems like a lot, but that's only about three per year in a primary dumping area. Sometimes we find lone objects that just have to go. A large liquified gas tank was discovered where we had cleaned near Chase Avenue in May. Perceiving a possible danger, and recognizing that it would might never be easier to get, with the cooperation of a nearby business owner, the Fire department was called and they removed it as a training exercise.

Not all maintenance needs are man-made. It's a touchy subject, but sometimes it is wise to cut a path through trees that have fallen in the water. This needs to be done with a minimum disturbance, as fallen trees are a natural part of the riverscape and provide habitat for aquatic creatures. And paddling through them is part of the experience of traveling a narrow, tree-lined river. However, they can pose a danger, especially to novice paddlers. A few well chosen cuts can make the paddle one that more people can enjoy, and who may then wish to add their voices to those who support river protection. With this in mind, we opened the river up a little bit above and below the Park location, so that paddlers will not immediately run into daunting obstacles.

Unfortunately, some of our maintenance tasks are born in meanness and stupidity. Such is the case with the Perryville Trace sign, which, after standing for three years, was cut down by vandals. It has now been removed for rebuilding.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Park Opening Sponsor List Grows

Two local companies, Charniak Insurance and Webco Chemical, have joined the list of French River Park Opening Celebration sponsors, bringing the total to seven. Many other local businesses have provided cash donations and gift certificates to support the event, scheduled for August 20 from 11am until 4pm.

Oxford Firms Sponsor the Dam Trail Race

Returning sponsors Wilson Language Training and Industrial Packaging Supply have been joined by Fabrico as sponsors of this years Dam Trail Race to be held August 6 at Hodges Village. The gun goes off at 9am for two simultaneous races of approximately five and ten miles. We expect approximately 120 runners for the event, our major annual fundraiser.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Progress at French River Park

French River Park continues to progress toward an August 20 opening celebration. The light poles and many of the plantings are now in. We're just waiting for the grass to grow. Park furnishings will be installed nearer the opening day.

We need volunteers for the day. The first 25 will get a dark blue T-shirt with the park logo. Email Ken to sign up for a two hour shift.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Banks Support French River Park Opening Day

Two local banks, Webster Five Cents Savings Bank through its foundation, and Webster First Federal Credit Union, have made generous sponsorship donations to the opening celebration of French River Park to be held August 20 from 11 am to 4 pm.

The park is coming along nicely, with seeding being completed. Still left to do: plantings, lighting, furniture. You can follow the progress in a slide show.

The park is now represented by its own logo, donated by Ryan Wade.

French River Park Opening Day will feature music by the Yankee Dogs and the Pulaski Brass Band, balloon twisting by Bella the Clown, a duck race (river flow permitting), moonwalk, children's activities by the Webster-Dudley Boys and Girls Club, informational displays by the USACE, Turtle Rescue League, and The Last Green Valley, and food vendors.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Massachusetts Audubon Paddle

On May 22, the Massachusetts Audubon Society launched an interpreted paddling event from Leovich Landing, believed to be the first organized group to do so since the site opened in September 2010. The group planned to paddle upstream to Hodges Village and back.

French River Paddle

On May 21, a group of paddlers set out from Hodges Village Dam and paddled to Webster North Village, enjoying the sunshine and spring river life. The water was high and swift for this time of year, as shown above as a paddler shoots a beaver dam.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Perryville Trace Walk

On May 21, enjoying the first sunshine in days, nine walkers took a stroll on the Perryville Trace, one of the "1000 great places in Massachusetts." Participants enjoyed the green woods, and were able to take note of all the beaver activity along the river. Another walk is scheduled for August 13 at 10am.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

French River Park Opening Day Receives Funding

Funding for the opening of French River Park, now scheduled for August 20, has been received from two sources. The Janet Malser Humanities Trust has fully funded a request for $600 to support the musical portion of the day. The Webster Lake Association has donated $100 to help defray other costs of the event. We thank these and all our donors for their interest and generosity.

French River Park Opening Day will feature music by the Yankee Dogs and the Pulaski Brass Band, balloon twisting by Bella the Clown, a duck race (river flow permitting), moonwalk, children's activities by the Webster-Dudley Boys and Girls Club, informational displays by the USACE and Turtle Rescue League, and food vendors.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Earth Day 2011

The French River Connection celebrated Earth Day by cleaning up the river along Chase Avenue in Dudley. Thanks to the efforts of Judy Perrault, John Dignam, Mike Branniff, Charles Perzanoski, Kathy DiVeglia, Darin Bazinet, Jack Josti, Ken Butkiewicz, Ed Bazinet, and Ken Parker, forty bags of trash were collected, along with tires, a shopping cart, luggage, and other items which were taken to the Dudley highway barn. Items collected earlier in the week from Oxford Avenue and Lower Perryville Road were also taken in. The Webster side of the river was also cleaned earlier in the week, with the collected trash taken in by the Webster Department of Public Works.

The Chase Avenue area, located just downstream of downtown and featuring several small channels, remains a common collection point for floating trash, and its proximity to the bridge means dumping occurs there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

French River Paddle Scheduled May 21

The French River Connection will host a paddle on the French River on Saturday May 21, 2011. This leisurely paddle will begin at Agguteback Pond just below Hodges Village Dam on Howarth Road in Oxford and end at North Village in Webster, a distance of about 4 miles. Paddlers will enjoy an easy flowing river that meanders through marshlands and woodlands. There should be opportunities to see some of the wildlife that inhabit the French River, including turtles, great blue heron, geese, ducks, and beavers.

This trip is suitable for paddlers with moving water experience. PFDs are absolutely required and must be worn. There is no charge for this trip.

To register, email trip leader Jay Wade or call 860-928-5599 (work) or 508-461-9813 (home). The number of registrations accepted, and the ability of paddlers to participate, is at the discretion of the trip leader.

Meet at 9:00 AM at Hodges Village; bring your lunch and clothing appropriate for the weather. We will shuttle cars down to the takeout starting at 9:30

The paddle is listed on the French River Connection web site at http://www.frenchriverconnection.org

Here is a map

You may refer to our Shoreline Survey sections 2 though 6 to see where we’ll be paddling.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Perryville Trace Walk Scheduled May 21

The French River Connection will host a short walk on the Perryville Trace at 10 AM on Saturday May 21, 2011. A second walk is scheduled August 13. The Massachusetts Department of Travel and Tourism lists the Perryville Trace as one of “a thousand great places” in Massachusetts. The purpose of the walk is to familiarize the community with this resource.

The walk is one-mile round trip and follows the French River upstream from Perryville. There is some uneven terrain due to tree roots and the path is inappropriate for wheelchairs or those who have difficulty with balance. This slow paced walk through the woods will take about 45 minutes.

Meet at 10 AM at the entrance to the path located just over the railroad tracks on the Webster side of Perryville Road (at the bridge construction). Parking is available along Perryville Road and Brookside Avenue. Don’t be deterred by road closure or detour signs. There is no access from the Dudley side.

The walk is listed on the French River Connection web site at http://www.frenchriverconnection.org or you may call 508-943-2698 for information

Here is a map

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

2011 Water Quality Monitoring Campaign Begins

On April 2, our 2011 water quality monitoring campaign began, with the opening honors performed by two members of the Shepherd Hill Environment Club, and their adviser Judy Nawrocki. This year we're doing the same locations as we have for several years, but we are performing the work under a quality plan developed by The Last Green Valley for all users of their equipment. The main differences that volunteers from previous seasons will notice is that we record data on a more consolidated form, and the TROLL is transported from station to station in a bucket of water.

One down, seven to go.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Annual Meeting Set for April 13

The French River Connection will hold its Annual Meeting Wednesday April 13 at 7pm at the Black Tavern on Center Road in Dudley. The public is invited. The featured speaker will be Tom Ryzewski who will give a presentation on “Wildlife of the French River”. Now retired, Mr. Ryzewski taught advanced placement Biology at Bartlett High School for many years. New members joining at the meeting may do so for $10, half the annual membership fee, and receive a beautiful French River screensaver. Refreshments will be served. For information contact Ken Parker at (508) 943-2698


7:00 Call to Order----------Ken Parker

7:05 Minutes of February Meeting------------Elaine Parker

7:10 First Quarter Financial Report-----------Sheila Veideman

7:15 Looking Ahead in 2011--------Ken Parker

7:30 Volunteer Opportunities----------Ken Parker

7:45 Presentation: Wildlife of the French River---------Tom Ryzewski

8:15 Election of Directors to terms expiring in 2014

8:30 Other Business

8:45 Adjourn for refreshments

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Perryville Trace Stormwater Control Gets a Severe Test

Since it was opened in 2008, the Perryville Trace has been subjected to flooding along about 50 yards of its length by stormwater from Brookside Avenue. The runoff has created a nearly level sandy plain in the woods between the Trace and the railroad. New runoff spreads out over this area and onto the Trace at several locations. Last spring, we located the lowest of those locations and placed pipe under the Trace to direct the outflow to the river. The rain and snowmelt of the week of March 6 put our handiwork to the test. What we found was that every stick on the flat plain quickly collected a glob of wet leaves, creating small dams which directed flow away from the most natural path to our pipes. The solution was to rake out the route we wanted the water to take and turn the dams into levees. This went a long way toward getting all the water to the pipe. Perhaps it means there will need to be a maintenance task performed every fall to clear the way. Stormwater flows from Brookside Avenue for days after the rain stops. Even if the pipes don't keep the Trace dry during the heaviest rain and snowmelt, they at least give it a chance to dry soon afterward by carrying away the continual flow.

Another challenge for the Trace has been the narrow causeway between the river and a pool that forms every winter. Typically this is flooded by one or both at some time during the spring. Last year, it became something of a quagmire. Trail users put small logs across it, which seemed as likely to break an ankle as to keep one's feet dry. Last year, students from Shepherd Hill High School built up the causeway and paved it with flat stones from the site. At this point, it appears the river would have to reach flood stage to get it wet, but an inch of water comes over it from the pool. However, the stones keep the surface stable, so it is much safer to traverse.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snow or no, you can still go

The Perryville Trace remains open for snowshoeing. During a one-mile round trip, you'll see geese, a gigantic beaver lodge, possibly a beaver slide, other animal tracks, and enjoy silence and solitude. Just a reminder, The trace can only be reached from the Webster side of the river due to bridge construction. The French River bridge is now being demolished and you may have to thread your way through parked trucks and other equipment, but you'll quickly leave that behind.