Items of Interest
The Cost of Water
Sharon's conservation-oriented water rate structure rewards residents who use water wisely. As a result, water usage in Sharon has dropped by approximately 20%, saving over 100 million gallons per year. This illustrated presentation, entitled "The Cost of Water," provides insights into why water conservation matters to our town and to future generations.
Sharon's Goose Guests
Many years ago, it is said, Sharon folks maintained flocks of what are called Judas or toller geese. These Canadian geese (Branta canadensis) stayed put and did not migrate. (Geese raised in captivity never learn to migrate.) Their purpose was to lure wild geese down out of the skies. Then, as was the custom, these avian guests would be invited by Sharon families to their Christmas dinners. The descendants of Sharon’s once-perfidious fowl still follow in their forebears’ footsteps, but in a more agreeable way.
Critters in Residence
In a town like Sharon with an abundance of natural open space, the line between the natural world and the domestic front is often crossed. We have a veritable Noah’s Ark of fauna that believe what’s good for people is good for them, and they arrive in our yards and houses, suitcases in hand — or paw.
Often they come as invited guests. Human homeowners have unwittingly laid out the welcome mat. Debris in yards can provide shelter, as can anything edible left outside. Bugs, birds, and multitudinous mammals find the comforts of human habitations appealing. But, as with Las Vegas vacationers, a fun vacation can lead to lamentation. Homeowners need to encourage their wild tenants to go back to their woodland worlds.
The osprey (pandion haliaetus) is a conservation success story. Once threatened with extinction due to the use of DDT insecticide, which weakened their egg shells, the osprey is becoming a not unusual sight in Massachusetts and the entire U.S. east coast. The photos here by David Rabinowitz are of an osprey perched above Briggs Pond in August 2012.
These birds can be seen nesting on poles and electrical towers as well as many poles erected exclusively for them. Mating for life, ospreys are highly cooperative in nest construction and rearing of their young. Their diet is almost entirely fish, though they are known to eat mussels and crustaceans if available.
2012 Town of Sharon Rain Barrel Program
To assist residents with water conservation efforts, the Sharon DPW is offering a limited number of SkyJuice New England Rain Barrels to local residents for $50 each. Rain barrels will be sold on a first come, first served basis.
Rain barrels collect and store water run-off from your roof for use during dry weather. Harvested rainwater can be used to water plants, wash lawn furniture, garden tools, cars, etc. A one-inch rainfall on a 1,000 square foot roof yields 562 gallons of water. Runoff from a quarter inch of rainfall will easily fill a 60 gallon barrel.
Sharon's Conservation-Oriented Water Rates
By Paul Lauenstein
For over 20 years, Sharon has had ascending block water rates that increase as usage increases.
Water rates are also higher in summer, when water is scarcest.
Sharon’s rate structure is designed to encourage water conservation, and it has served the town well. Residential water use has declined by roughly 100 million gallons per year, even as population has increased by approximately 7 percent since 1995.
By Kurt Buermann
Since they are such a quiet clan, we tend to forget the chelonian inhabitants of our town. Sharon is home to six species of turtle: snapping turtles, spotted turtles, Blandings turtles, painted turtles, box turtles, and mud turtles (aka musk turtles). Some are more visible than others.
The basic blueprint of turtles is as follows: The shell, called the carapace, is actually made of 50 or so bones. It is in essence the skeleton, spine, and ribs grown on the outside of the turtle. Like bones, the shell can heal if damaged. The individual plates we see are called scutes, the Latin word for shield. The bottom of the turtle is the plastron, after the Greek for plastered or daubed on. The band of small plates around the lower edge of the shell, joining top and bottom like the crimped edge of a pie, is called the bridge.
Sharon Composting Initiative
Sharon High School students have created a composting program which is
aimed at educating and expanding composting in Sharon and eventually other
towns. The students have come far in a short while and are now at the point
where they need help, especially with regard to legal and financial matters.
Adult help is necessary dealing with Massachusetts State departments, with contracts and in establishing a non-profit organization. Any help from Sharon Friends of Conservation membership would be welcome as well as personally rewarding to those who step out to lend a hand to this worthy initiative.
Get more information on the composting initiative and composting focus points.
To volunteer or for questions please contact: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rescued Baby Hummingbird
A rather extraordinary video. Watch
2010-2011 Sharon Wildlife Photo Contest
After a few years’ hiatus, the SFOC Wildlife Photo
Contest is coming back this year. Thanks to the generosity of The Camera
Company of Norwood, we now have the resources to restart these popular
annual contests. The contest opened November 1, 2010, and closes November
30, 2011. Winners will be announced after the December 2011 judging. Prizes
will be awarded at the SFOC Potluck Supper in March 2012. The contest is
year-long to allow for a maximum representation of species. Read more…
Sharon's Water Resources
a virtual tour of Sharon's water resources with
this slideshow presentation (5mb PDF). It's packed with photos, facts
and figures to help you get a better understanding of the challenges
facing Sharon's water supply as the town grows.
SFOC Bluebird Brigade Marches On
Sharon Friends of Conservation’s bluebird monitors reported another successful season. While the final tally is not complete, we easily exceeded the 25 fledglings of last year. Read more…
Sweet Fern: Keep Bugs Away and Berries Fresh
Sometimes it is interesting to research some of the very common species which we see every day and think nothing of. One of these is sweet fern. It is easily found in Sharon wherever there is some clear, sunny space with sandy soil. Read more…
Preliminary OSRP Now Available
A preliminary version of the Sharon Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) is now available.
This is a "preliminary" version due to the lack of a new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) section requested by the Commonwealth and still to come, but is otherwise complete. The reports supplants the last Town OSRP report done in the 1990s. Read more…
RIFLS: Monitoring Sharon Streams
SFOC members have been daily measuring stream flow at six locations in Sharon for the past three years. Two stream flow gauges are located along Beaver Brook in the Neponset watershed, and four are located along Billings Brook in the northwest corner of the Taunton watershed. Graphs of stream flow and stream depth can be seen at the River Instream Flow Stewards (RIFLS) program of Mass Riverways. You can enter any time period of interest up to 12 months to view a graph of flow or depth.
The data can help understand the relationships among stream flow, rainfall, seasonal vegetation growth, well pumping, and impervious surfaces, which cause flash flooding and impede groundwater recharge that keeps streams flowing between rain storms. The gauges are strategically located above and below the two largest municipal wells in Sharon. The data can also be used to asses how much water can be withdrawn during drought conditions before the streams dry up completely.
The web site also shows photos and maps of the six sites.
Sharon's Local Food Choices
SFOC member Joshua Laskin reviews the local/natural food choices for Sharon residents. Yes, there is more than just Shaws…
Moose Hill Community Farm
What is Moose Hill Community Farm and how does it work?
Sharon's Open Space and Recreation Plan
A 15-member citizen committee has been hard at work drafting a new Open Space and Recreation Plan. This important document "provides an inventory of Sharon’s open space and recreation resources; a description of the environmental characteristics of the Town and the environmental challenges it faces; a survey of public opinion about the adequacy and best uses of resources; and a five-year proposed plan of goals and actions."
Will Sweet's Flickr Photo Pages
Sharon resident Will Sweet has taken many outstanding pictures of wildlife, especially birds. Most of his pictures are taken in Sharon. You will find a visit to Will's Flickr photo pages well worth your while. Please note that Will's pages are of his all own creation and not part of the Sharon Friends of Conservation's Animal and Plant Sightings in Sharon feature.
Sharon Wildlife Photos
Sharon and NepRWA Partner on Push for Water Conservation
Courtesy of Neponset River Watershed Association (NepRWA)
The Town of Sharon sits at the headwaters of the Neponset and Taunton Watersheds and supplies all of its own public drinking water from local sources. Sharon is looking ahead to substantial residential and commercial growth over the next few years. As we’re well familiar, with new growth comes demand for more water, as well as the prospect that Sharon could outgrow its current water supplies.
Suckers Spawn, Earth Day 2008
View a collection of photos by Paul Lauenstein of suckers in brooks around Sharon.
A Hike to King Philip's Rock
View a video on YouTube of a hike to King Philip's Rock.
A Walk down the Massapoag Trail and up Devil's Rock
View a video on YouTube of a hike down the Massapoag Trail and up Devil's Rock.
2007 BioDiversity Day Results
View the results of the Sharon BioDiversity Day from June 2, 2007 when SFOC volunteers and others fanned out across Moose Hill Farm to find, record and learn about the diversity of flora and fauna in our town.
Billings Land Preserved by Public and Private Donors
By Alice Cheyer
Many residents of Sharon and nearby towns believe that wild land should be preserved for public use—especially since the pool of undeveloped land is shrinking and will continue to do so as the U.S. population increases exponentially. And they are willing to "put their money where their mouth is" to ensure preservation of some green spaces where people can go for rest and respite in the inevitably crowded and paved-over future (even people without private estates or the means to buy them).
Sharon' Endangered Atlantic White Cedar Swamp
By Kurt Buermann and Clifford Towner
The Atlantic White Cedar Swamp west of Lake Massapoag lies atop Sharon’s largest and deepest aquifer. Over the millennia, decaying vegetation from the cedars has created a layer of peat up to six feet thick called Freetown muck, which is one of nature’s best water purifiers.
The white cedar swamp covers an area of over 600 acres. It accumulates and purifies rainwater, which then seeps into the underlying aquifer and flows out in all directions. It feeds the Canoe River, Beaver Brook and Billings Brook aquifers, as well as the springs that feed the lake. Sharon’s six municipal wells all trap water purified from the cedar swamp.
Read Letters to the Editor about this story.
Read a Note from the Editor responding to these letters.
Why We Need “Cape Wind”
By Diane A. Langley
If you live in Sharon or anywhere in Southeastern Massachusetts, you may have heard of “Cape Wind,” but you may not be familiar with its details or with the controversy it has engendered.
Cape Wind is a “wind park” of 130 giant windmills, or wind turbines, proposed for Horseshoe Shoal, an area of shallow water in Nantucket Sound. Each wind turbine will be 247 feet tall (above the water), and the blade tips will reach 75–417 feet above the surface.
A Closer Look at the Area around the Soccer Fields at Gavin's Pond
The Sharon Soccer Association has proposed an additional soccer field to be built on town-owned land in Sharon Woods across the street from the existing soccer fields for the purpose of scheduling flexibility. It is important to be aware of what will be lost, as well as what will be gained, before deciding which way to vote on this matter. Download the whole story… (2.41mb PDF)
The Skunks of Sharon
By Kurt Buermann
Mephitis mephitis. The scientific name for the striped skunk means “noxious vapors.” Twice! The armory of the common striped skunk gives it the security and peace of mind to roam freely and unmolested. The wildlife observer may even spot them without leaving his yard. Being omnivores, the skunk is ideally adapted to a suburban environment. He roams about a mile from the den, seeking insects, fruits and, should fortune smile on him, a neglected bowl of pet food.
Why It's Called “Sucker Brook”
A clear stream flows into Lake Massapoag. It's called Sucker Brook. You can find it on Massapoag Ave. right beside the arch leading to the community center.
One sunny afternoon in mid-April I stopped by Sucker Brook and witnessed the annual spawning migration of white suckers. Adult white suckers are fish about a foot and a half long, weighing two or three pounds, and sporting a reddish stripe along their sides.
By Paul Lauenstein & Kurt
The freshwater mussel provides a good example of the interrelationships that go on “behind the scenes” in nature. Mussels live for a surprisingly long time—some as long as half a century. Their age can be estimated by counting shell ridges, much as we can tell the age of trees from growth rings.
The combination of melting snow, rising temperatures, and rain one weekend last March triggered the annual migration of salamanders to their breeding grounds. Our relatives from New York City were visiting for the weekend, so we took a ride over to Moose Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon on Saturday night to witness the event.
Beat the Peak
by Paul Lauenstein
Cutting down on lawn watering will reduce your water bills and conserve drinking water. Lawn watering consumes large volumes of water and may increase your water rate from $3.00 up to $10.00 per thousand gallons. Lawn watering creates severe demands on our town’s water supply in summer, when our aquifers are most depleted.
Keep Looking Up: A Guide to the Nests of Sharon
I think when we walk or hike, our usual habit is to look from side to side, or at the ground. Less frequently do we gaze upwards. Some time ago, I was fortunate to spot a great horned owl. I would never have seen it except for a couple of red-winged blackbirds who were making a commotion around its head hoping to oust it from its perch. (They did not succeed. The great bird was trying to enjoy its daytime sleep and had probably put in earplugs. It was completely oblivious to the redwings’ harassments.) The incident served to make me more aware of the world over our heads in the woods. At the risk of falls and sprained ankles I now tend to amble along with my attention more focused on the branches above than the ones lying across the path. There are days when nothing much is happening on the forest floor but there is almost always something of interest in the trees and limbs overhead.
Courtesy of the Mass Audubon Society's Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary
Opossums are very adaptable and will live wherever they can meet their habitat requirements. The opossum has a face that is hard to forget—it features a pointy nose that sports a mouth filled with 50 sharp teeth. They are about the size of a house cat with gray to black fur and black eyes. Their nose, feet, and tail are pink. Although most cartoons will show opossums hanging by their tails, in reality they rarely do so. Their prehensile tail does help them balance and stabilize themselves when climbing. Few live beyond the age of one year in the wild, but there are rare reports of captive opossums living 5 to 10 years.