Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New State Park in Dighton will be part of the Taunton River Trail

The Taunton River watershed has a new state park. Sweets Knoll State Park is a new 56 acre park located on the Taunton River in Dighton. It includes about two miles of old railroad bed that will be converted into a walking and bike path and connected to the Taunton River Trail system, which is still in development.

The state park was established in 2010 with the purchase of the land at 1387 Somerset Ave. The land was purchased by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation with the assistance of the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts and the Sheehan Family Fund. The landowner donated his former residence which will remain on the property. The park is open to the public and will soon have a public access site for launching small boats, and for fishing access to the Taunton River.

The acquisition of this state park has provided a major boost to the Taunton River Trail committee which has been developing a trail network from Raynham through Somerset and connecting with trails in Fall River and Rhode Island. The trail will one day connect with the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island and the planned Aquidneck Island Bike Path. See the Taunton River Trail website for more information about this exciting project.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Removal of Hopewell Mills Dam

This summer, the first of three dam removal projects on the Mill River in Taunton got underway. The Hopewell Mills dam, located next to the Taunton State Hospital was removed in August.

The project is still underway as contractors create a new river channel through the former impoundment. The removal of this dam will create a larger floodplain that can store water at high flows, protecting downtown Taunton from flooding. The removal of two dams upstream will also increase flood storage and allow fish to migrate up to Lake Sabbatia for the first time in 200 years. You can see more information and photos at

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An Early Drought

It has been an early spring so far, and as leaves and buds come out, trees and plants will start sucking water out of the ground at a very fast pace. Generally, this is a time of abundant water (April showers bring May flowers!). This year, however, our streams are at record low levels. The United States Geological Survey has placed Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts in a severe drought category, before spring really even kicks off.

This spells danger for all the creatures who use this time of year to migrate to new habitats, mate and grow. Vernal pools have dried up, along with wood frog eggs that need these habitats to grow into tadpoles. As fish migrate back up into our rivers, the low flows make it challenging to find access to spawning areas. This is also an important time of year for humans to store water in our reservoirs for the upcoming summer.

The Pawtuxet River is at one third of its normal flow, and the Blackstone is at at one quarter of where it should be. To put this in perspective, the Pawtuxet River is at levels not seen since 1965, which is Rhode Island's drought of record.

April has just begun, and it may rain soon (we hope!), but we have a lot of ground to make up. Let us not forget that with climate change we fully expect extremes on both ends - floods (such as in 2010) and droughts as well.