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Conservation Activities & Property Management

 

 

The Falmouth Rod and Gun Club is one of the largest private property owners in Falmouth and Mashpee with over 200 acres under its care including the recent addition of the Farley Bog. The bulk of those acres are in a conservation easement which ensures that the property remains as open space in perpetuity. Our club has the only existing conservation easement in the town of Mashpee. A section of the property was formed in 1985 and named The Charles T. Eastman Wildlife Habitat. This is over 100 acres with a 1 mile road encircling the parcel and consists of 18 different fields.

 

Each year 4-5 fields are planted with seed head (grasses, wild bird mix) and a mixture of green (clover, small bernect.) On the property there are apple and fruit trees which are maintained to sustain wildlife. Members collect leaves and grass which gets composted and distributed. The fields are mowed periodically, and brush encroachment is removed to maintain field perimeters.

The Childs River passes through our property, then through town property to the ocean. Club members traverse from the mouth of the Childs River to the Farley Bog to clean up debris and river obstructions to keep the water flowing so that herring & salter trout can travel to spawn in the twin ponds. Club members are aware by now that the final construction phase of the UCRRP is underway. The engineering and construction portion of the project has been fully funded through grants from several local, state and federal agencies. Plantings will come next.

 

However, one of the future projects the Club and SSCEF want to undertake is creating educational panels or kiosks throughout the project area to fully explain the value of the project for fish, ducks, wildlife and the general public. If you have visited the National Seashore Down Cape or the Coonamessett Restoration Project, you have probably looked at educational boards describing what people are seeing. Some kiosks might describe the history of the Childs River, e.g. cranberry farming, or that President Grover Cleveland and statesman Daniel Webster may well have fished the Childs River for ‘Salter Brook Trout,’ or that the Waquoit Herring River Company used to have a processing factory on the  Childs River on the southeast side of Carriage Shop Road.

 

Cranberry bogs are Southeastern Massachusetts’ iconic form of agriculture. If you’ve ever visited Cape Cod in late summer or early fall, you’ve probably seen the bogs of blood-red berries, waiting to grace Thanksgiving tables or to be pressed into bottled juice for sale throughout the country. These agricultural wetlands were once natural wetland systems, supporting valuable fish and wildlife and fostering clean coastal waters. When the wetlands were converted to cranberry production, a century or more ago, farmers graded, ditched and dammed them to accommodate the needs of the crop. Now many of the bogs are falling into disuse, abandoned as landowners find them less profitable than larger cranberry operations elsewhere in the country.

 

Yet, having been physically modified for agricultural use, these areas can’t regain wetland values without work to re-establish more natural topography, hydrology, and vegetation. Over the past decade, local organizations and landowners in Southeastern Massachusetts have begun restoring these abandoned bogs. The work combines cutting-edge engineering and science with old-fashioned earthmoving–removing dams, filling ditches, restoring stream channels, and planting trees to re-establish habitat for eastern brook trout and other native fish species, while reducing polluted runoff to coastal waters.

 

Initial work is nearing completion on sections of the Childs River in Falmouth and Mashpee that will restore wetland and river habitats and help fish and other wildlife. The Childs River project aims to return two abandoned cranberry bogs to natural wetland habitat and improve river flow and habitat. Work will include building a new road crossing, replacing a failed fish ladder, and removing an earthen dam. The resulting improved stream channel will allow brook trout along with American eel and other fish to travel upstream to areas that are currently inaccessible. This construction will reduce ponding and sources of warm water that currently impair existing coldwater habitat for trout.

 

Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants – a partnership between Restore America’s Estuaries and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – is supporting {our} groundbreaking project: the Upper Childs River Restoration Project {UCRRP} in Falmouth, MA. The project is in partnership with the Association to Preserve Cape CodCape Cod Trout Unlimited, Town of Falmouth, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and many other organizations. Engineering and construction oversight is being provided by Inter-Fluve, Inc., a national leader in river restoration design.

 

The area is part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, and the river and its resources have been maintained by the Club in coordination with the refuge, Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and MassWildlife. The restoration project is a long-term effort begun by the Rod & Gun Club in October 2016.

"With four years and about $2.5 million committed for planning, design, permitting and construction, the Club and the project team are now seeing their hard work come to fruition," said the Club president. “This project supports the club’s mission of improvement, conservation and preservation of the land and water systems of Cape Cod. Restoring the bogs and river will ensure the public can enjoy the natural, historical beauty of these resources in perpetuity.”

 

Falmouth Rod and Gun Club is committed to wildlife and environmental protection of natural resources. For those interested in local native animal life and vegetation, numerous flowers, trees and plants could be pictured and identified. "As we begin this project, 'informational' kiosks will be placed in significant locations to assist in our efforts to teach others of the general public about all that one-may-see!" These will undoubtedly be of great interest to scouts, school children and the general public and provide excellent publicity for the Club and SSCEF.

 

Thanks to: SNEP and US Fish&Wildlife