Update: Fawn Lake Preservation Study

Presented at a public meeting on October 29, 2014 - Courtesy image
Presented at a public meeting on October 29, 2014 – Courtesy image

By Julie McCay Turner

The DPW and Conservation Commission held a preliminary public hearing about Fawn Lake on Tuesday, October 29. The hearing was attended by more than 40 residents.

Allan Wirth of the Conservation Commission and Town Engineer Adrienne St. John offered introductory remarks. The evening’s main presentation was made by Matt Lunstead and environmental scientist Jessica Cajigasd of Comprehensive Environmental Inc. (CEI) of Marlborough. CEI was hired to provide civil and environmental engineering services at Fawn Lake.

St. John later noted that she hopes to have an update from CEI, perhaps in time for the December 3rd Conservation Commission meeting. At the next meeting CEI’s consultants will present the results of their field work, including a survey of Fawn Lake’s sediment depth and plant species. The upcoming meeting will also offer an opportunity for additional discussion and feedback about the various options for the lake available to the Town.

Speaking for the Friends of Fawn Lake, Laura Bullock said, “The consulting group seemed very well informed, and appeared to have a wealth of experience to draw upon.  They were very approachable and created a great level of comfort that we are in good hands. We are excited to see their options and [then] to voice our opinions.”

Presentation Recap

Bedford’s Conservation Commission has jurisdiction over Fawn Lake under Chapter 40, Section 8C of the Massachusetts General Laws (the Conservation Commission Act), and has approved having CEI’s current preservation study co-managed by the Commission and the Bedford Department of Public Works.

The town purchased the Fawn Lake Conservation Area in the 1970s. The immediate parcel encompasses approximately 40 acres.  The Fawn Lake watershed is a much larger 86-acre parcel, comprised equally of forested conservation land and low-density residential properties that drain toward or into Fawn Lake. The Conservation Commission was charged with overseeing the protection of Fawn Lake for the benefit and enjoyment of the citizens of Bedford.

In 2001, Bedford established the following community goal for Fawn Lake through the Fawn Lake Restoration project: To establish conditions at Fawn Lake that enhance aesthetic, recreational and wildlife habitat values by restoring open water areas free of excessive plant growth.

Bedford has spent over $300,000 to date to preserve Fawn Lake through aquatic vegetation control: Vegetation survey (9 species) in 2001; Diquat application (7‐8 acres) in June 2003; Hydroraked (5 weeks) in September‐October 2003; Vegetation survey (7 species) in July 2004; Hydroraked (3 weeks) in October‐November 2004; Vegetation survey (9 species) in July 2005; Diquat application (8‐9 acres) in July 2005; Vegetation surveys (8 species) in 2006‐2007; a Diquat application in August 2006; Diquat application in July 2007; Glyphosate application in August 2007; Glyphosate application in September 2007; Vegetation survey (15 species) in September 2008; Vegetation survey (10 species) in July 2010; and Hydroraked 5‐6 acres (3.5 weeks) in September‐October 2010.

Drainage (land runoff and storm water outfall) entering Fawn Lake is not treated.  Potential sources of pollution include lawn fertilizers and pesticides, pet and other animal waste, road and vehicle maintenance chemicals. Nearby homeowners and visitors to the watershed area are encouraged to use slow-release fertilizers and avoid high nitrogen fertilizers; to pick up after pets; and to avoid feeding birds and other wildlife nearby.

What might the town do next?

Several management strategies have been implemented to date:

  • Aquatic vegetation control/Hydro-raking and chemical treatment
  • Watershed protection through nuisance waterfowl control, homeowner education and community outreach. Funds are being sought for stormwater controls
  • Other improvements including beaver control, trail signage and mapping, and a solar trash compactor

Tasks undertaken in CEI’s current study:

  • Lake Bathymetry – a study of underwater depth of lake or ocean floors
  • Determining the depth of the sediment on the floor of Fawn Lake
  • Studying the extent of plant masses by plant type and relative densities
  • Taking sediment sample(s)
  • Evaluate various additional management strategies

Multiple alternate management options could be considered in Fawn Lake’s future

  • Dredging: Including mechanical, hydraulic and bio-dredging
  • Hydroraking
  • Chemical treatment using Diquat, Gylphosate or Fluridone
  • Weed harvesting
  • Water level drawdown
  • Sub‐surface barriers
  • Aeration
  • Dam Repair/Enhancement/Removal
  • Do Nothing

Considerations for each alternative would include a description of the strategy; a description of its environmental impacts; logistics of the strategy; sediment disposal options (if needed); impacts to surrounding properties; future O&M associated with the strategy; the time needed to complete the strategy; how long the work effort is expected to last; a list of required environmental permits; the likelihood of obtaining said permits; the estimated cost for permitting; the estimated cost for performing the strategy; the plant response; the strategy’s advantages and disadvantages; and an overview of systems where the strategy was used successfully.


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