Warden’s news

Megunticook Watershed November Report: Temperatures, safe ice, and outdoor showers

Posted:  Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 3:30pm

Well the numbers are out: this fall was warm.  According to the Weather Channel it was the fifth warmest fall (Sept.-Nov.) in New England.  The  No. 1 hotspot was Burlington, Vermont, where the average high was 54.4 degrees F; No. 2 was Portland, Maine,. where the average high was 53.4 degrees F.  This doesn’t mean that the lake is still warm; the temperature was 39 degress F at last check. Some of the coves have frozen and thawed several times this fall. The first measurable snow of the year has not show up yet; looking back, snow came on December 5 last year.  Some pictures from last year on December 6 show a good snow cover. 

So, the cold of winter is on its way and ice will soon cover the lake, ponds, and river.  Determining how thick ice needs to be safe ice is variable.  Four inches of hard, black, clear ice will hold the average person, but four inches of white slushy ice will not hold up anything of weight.  

All of the “safe ice” lists you see online are for the hard clear solid ice.  The ice fishermen will be the first to venture out, testing the ice as they go by cutting a small hole to check for thickness and condition.  Please be careful when heading out on the ice this winter.

Fall around the Megunticook Watershed is a great time to enjoy the wildlife.  Deer can be seen on the edges of fields early mornings and evening.   saw a large buck standing in the bog on the inside of the Bog Bridge boat ramp at 9:30 a.m. just last week.  He was out to tease all the hunters on their way to work.  

Duck hunters are still out until the end of December. The few duck hunters I have seen have had a good season with lots of mallards and blacks.  The wood duck numbers are down on the lake.  

Over the years, the old wood duck boxes have rotted away.  Local hunters have asked about getting some new bows and repairing the old ones.  I have learned the bottoms rot out of the boxes in five to 10 years.  I know of only about four or five of them on the lake now and do not know if they are usable.  Anybody want a wood duck box for their property?

Increasing in popularity around the Watershed are outdoor showers.  In my travels I see many outdoor showers with the runoff going straight into the water.  The bad part is most of them are using regular shampoo and soaps.  If you have an outside showering set up please use environmentally safe products to keep the harmful products out of the watershed.  You can also do some landscaping to have the wash water filter into the soil rather than runoff.  Nobody wants to see brown soap suds on the beach.

Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the lake, pond, and river this summer for making it a safe and fun place. We had a few issues but no big problems.  The Lands End area was clean and trash free all summer thanks to kind and thoughtful folks picking up after themselves.

Dale Dougherty, along with Paul Leeper, are Megunticook Watershed wardens.

More pics can be seen at megunticook.org/wardens-report