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 […]

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Osprey Conservation

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 […]

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2012 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, […]

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Sharon’s Conservation-Oriented Water Rates

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 […]

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Sharon Composting Initiative

Some 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 […]

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Turtle Townies

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 […]

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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. Sweet fern, comptonia peregrina, is not a true fern. It is actually a deciduous shrub growing from 2 to 4 ft tall. […]

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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. Good monitoring helps ward off the many perils bluebirds face before and after hatching. Monitors report and correct such things as wasps’ nests, damage to bluebird houses, and intrusions by other birds and predators. Our bluebird trails at present […]

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Moose Hill Community Farm

Moose Hill Community Farm is part of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Members buy shares in the farm and receive fresh, locally grown food every week during the growing season (June through October). A “full share” is usually enough for a family of four or a couple on a vegetarian diet, and a “single share” is about half this amount. As part of their share, all […]

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Real Food, Locally

For Sharon shoppers dissatisfied with commercial, mainstream supermarket groceries, our motivations may be simple or complex, including some or all of these: seeking better nutrition from less-processed foods; avoiding residues of agricultural chemistry; wanting better flavor grown in healthier soil; and supporting local agriculture to build the regional economy, preserve our New England landscape, and prepare for post-petroleum civilization. Toward these purposes, here’s a review […]

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Sharon’s Open Space and Recreation Plan

The Town of Sharon’s Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) is almost complete. Residents will want to take a look at this interesting document when it becomes available. The plan 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 […]

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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 […]

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Beat the Peak: A Conservationist’s Guide to Lawn Care

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 $3.40 up to $7.00 per thousand gallons. Lawn watering creates severe demands on our town’s water supply in summer, when our aquifers are most depleted. Here are some tips to minimize your lawn watering without harming your […]

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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 […]

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Salamander Story

By Paul Lauenstein March 2008 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 toMoose Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon on Saturday night to witness the event. Arriving at Moose Hill, we encountered […]

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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 […]

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Outrageous Opossums

Courtesy of the Mass Audubon Society’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Used with permission. 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 […]

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New Beaver Brook Footbridge

To pass over Beaver Brook near the train station, hikers once had to jump across a spillway in a narrow concrete dam. A slip could result in injury, especially for parents out for a walk in the woods with small children. Now, thanks to the efforts of SFOC President Kurt Buermann and a group of volunteers, a footbridge spans the brook for safe crossing. Kurt […]

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Keep Looking Up: A Guide to the Nests of Sharon

By Kurt Buermann 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 […]

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Mussel Mysteries

By Paul Lauenstein & Kurt Buermann 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. To reproduce, freshwater mussels depend on fish. […]

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Why It’s Called “Sucker Brook”

By Paul Lauenstein 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 […]

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The Skunks of Sharon

Contributed 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 the yard. Being an omnivore, the skunk is ideally adapted to a suburban environment. It roams about a mile […]

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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.   Read more: save_habitat

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Why We Need “Cape Wind”

by Diane 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 […]

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Endangered: Sharon’s Atlantic White Cedar Swamp

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 […]

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