The Sportsman’s Corner: Water, water everywhere

Published: 7/22/2021 1:37:52 PM
Modified: 7/22/2021 1:38:00 PM

There is no doubt that this summer will go down as one of the wettest in history. July alone will probably record more inches of rain than the average summer. This past weekend, the potential impact of heavy rains was evident locally with a lot of flooding and water levels very high in places where there is no recent history of those things happening.

If the heavy rainfall caused you issues, this writer feels your pain because it certainly was more than a little inconvenient for me. On White Pond, where we have property, the water level rose, and rose, and rose. It was clear that something serious was going on and the boat was pulled and trailered as the dock was being compromised as the waters steadily rose. Ultimately, the pond level peaked Monday at almost three feet higher than normal. Seeing that potential, the dock decking had been removed as it would have floated off. Ultimately, every dock on the pond was under water.

Meanwhile, one property, which has a history of water issues, had water in the cellar that was literally pouring in and flooding. Two sump pumps were engaged, and every three hours it was pumped out. Meanwhile, my home in Orange was experiencing water issues as well as the garage, which was built with two floor drains (very popular in the 1950s) that historically expel water during periods of extreme rainfall. So, it was back and forth, pumping and squeegeeing every few hours. The White Pond cellar has a water heater that is at risk so three a.m. pumpings were the order of the day. Getting the dock decking removed was also not without drama and one of the joys of owning a paddle boat is managing them once they fill with water and get heavy. Great cardio!

Locally flooded cellars and roads along with back yards and septic systems has been the norm and we all certainly reveled in Tuesday’s sunshine. As of Tuesday night, there is still some cellar flooding, but things seem to be under control. As all homeowners come to realize, flooding is not covered in your homeowner’s insurance policy. When we purchased our White Pond property, the bank required that we have flood insurance. It was expensive and eventually increased 25% a year! That led to some investigation, and information that an engineering study might determine that the property could actually not be in the flood plain. With White Pond having been an impoundment controlled by a dam, it was ultimately determined by an engineer that we were not in the flood plain. A very complicated process, and some very intense phone calls resulted in ultimately an outcome that we were no longer required to purchase the additional insurance. As the water inched to within 15 inches of going over the wall in front of the property, there were second thoughts, but the dam ultimately handled the water and things were resolved for us without further issues.

To those of you who were not so lucky, hopefully things will ultimately be back to “normal.”

In the outdoor world, this scribe has received a lot of input about young wildlife and wildlife in general. It is really great to be able to be in public and interact with people again. As a former civics teacher, I understand the rights we all are entitled to but it is my opinion that those who have refused vaccination are putting everyone, and our entire nation, at risk when we could control this pandemic through universal inoculation. The America I grew up in was driven by sacrifice by the few for the benefit of all, but it appears, to me, that many individuals feel that their rights are more important than the impact of their actions, or inactions, on others. End of rant.

Those comments on observations of nature have indicated that sightings of young wildlife including rabbits, whitetail fawns, turkey poults, and grouse broods are up from previous years. Although anecdotal rather that data driven, it is interesting and hopeful. Bear sightings are also way up, and those bears are too acclimated to humans. “A fed bear is a dead bear” still unfortunately remains fairly accurate because bears not afraid of humans are at risk of being killed due to their proximity to people and BMWs.

The big news this week is progress on the MassWildlife budget/license issue. On Friday, Gov. Baker signed the FY 2022 budget and it contained language that provides compensation for MassWildlife for all free licenses that they are required by statute to provide. That will add over $1 million to the agency’s income and make a big difference in balancing the budget going forward.

Things like that do not “just happen.” They are the result of work by dedicated legislators who are willing to take sporting issues seriously and do the hard work, both in committee and by working with colleagues, to get bills passed. We are fortunate in this area to have a long history of representatives in the state senate who “get it.” The legacy begun by Bob Wetmore, continued and advanced by Steve Brewer, and carried on by Anne Gobi is something we all need to be very aware of. Sen. Gobi, a driving force on the very influential Sportsman’s Caucus and chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, spearheaded the Free License issue and was able to make it happen in a remarkably short timeframe. A huge tip of the hat to Sen. Gobi for what she has accomplished on this and other sportsman’s issues.

Friday’s Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board meeting, held before real people at MassWildlife headquarters in Westborough, included a vote to send the license fee proposal, as amended to be sensitive to input received at listening sessions and the public hearing process, forward to Administration and Finance for action. The “phasing in” of the increase over five years, and the reduction in permit fees, were major changes and they satisfied the most serious concerns brought forth by those who provided input to the process.

Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written the Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has served as advisor to the Mahar Fish’N Game Club, Counselor and Director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, has been a Massachusetts Hunter Education Instructor for over 40 years and is a licensed New York hunting guide. He can be reached at

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