Managing the Mill Pond

Managing the Mill Pond

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To the Editor:

This is a letter I have written to Prudy Burt:

Thank you again for the presentation you put on at the fire station this past Sunday. The attention you have focused over the past year or two on the question of dredging the Mill Pond has certainly made me think about how we manage all the ponds and brooks on the Island. To paraphrase Robin Hyde’s comment, these lovely little ponds are like the stone walls that crisscross the Island, and they are a wonderful part of our heritage.

You have drawn attention to the native brook trout and how they cannot survive in the ponds in the summer heat. It has always been so, and they have always retreated to the cooler parts of the brooks during the summer. Whether the pond is made by man or nature, the trout have adapted and continue to do so to this day.

Beside the native trout (and all the non-native fish we have dumped in) there are many other creatures that thrive because the ponds exist. Think of the painted turtles and snapping turtles, otters and muskrats, hooded mergansers and kingfishers and so many others that directly benefit from parts of the brooks being ponds and that does not begin to include the great joy the ponds bring to so many people.

Now that you have focused us on the brooks and their ponds, let’s keep going and do our best to make the whole system work for all the creatures involved, including the people.  Good, well-maintained (at the owners’ expense) fish ladders are legally required now but rarely exist. Let us fix that now. Road runoff into the brooks and ponds, clear cutting to the edge of brooks and ponds, fertilizer and pesticide use near the water, these are all problems that we can and should deal with, and from time to time this list includes cleaning out the silt that accumulates above the dams.

And then there is a multi-use bike path. It is past time to put a people friendly path from the police station to Alley’s store. Yes, this seems to require widening the Mill Pond dam a little bit, but it is really time to do it now.

Chris Murphy

Chilmark

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