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Ponkapoag Golf Course Water Supply Development & Ecological Monitoring
The Ponkapoag Golf Course is a 27-hole, Donald Ross-designed course that is owned and operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). To supplement its irrigation needs, the golf course withdraws water from Ponkapoag Bog and Pond, an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) within the Neponset River Watershed. ESS was retained to monitor and evaluate the effects of water withdrawal on the bog and pond ecosystem.
To assist the DCR Division of Planning and Engineering, ESS refined and implemented a cost-effective, comprehensive multi-year ecological monitoring program. The program goals were to identify and document effects resulting from the water management plan at Ponkapoag Pond. Rare species of Ponkapoag Bog and Pond, surface and groundwater hydrology, and wetland plant communities were the key components of the monitoring program.
Each year, ESS conducted biweekly field monitoring visits from May to October to document the status of rare species populations, site hydrology, and vegetation. The rare invertebrate species known to inhabit the site were directly monitored by ESS rare species experts. The success of these species was largely dependent on the maintenance of a healthy vegetative community in the pond, bog, and adjacent upland areas. Hydrologic change was assessed by measuring groundwater levels in the bog, surface water levels in the pond, and stream discharge at the pond outlet. Vegetation changes were assessed through annual vegetation mapping and wetland plot monitoring. An additional component of the vegetation monitoring consisted of tracking the growth of Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) stands in the bog.
ESS prepared annual reports to summarize the results of the environmental monitoring activities conducted at Ponkapoag Pond and Bog during each monitoring period. ESS also completed a 17-year final summary report for DCR, NHESP, and the Canton Conservation Commission that identified and characterized the long-term hydrologic and ecological trends observed at the project sites.
The information provided in these reports provided significant information related to the pond and associated Atlantic White Cedar swamp and quaking sphagnum bog.
Through the monitoring program, ESS documented that the Ponkapoag Golf Course water supply improvements did not have a significant negative impact on the pond and bog system. The monitoring program also provided valuable data to NHESP, including discovery of a new population of one rare invertebrate species.