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Spring into fun at Buffumville, Hodges Village Dam

By Rod Lee

Even longtime residents of the area might not be aware of the many organized activities that take place under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Buffumville Lake and Hodges Village Dam, come spring.

Some of these are held in conjunction with The Last Green Valley, Park Ranger Jamie Kordack said during an interview in the Corps of Engineers’ office at the Buffumville Dam on Oxford Road in Charlton on April 27th. Some are being offered for the first time in 2017. All are a way for individuals and families to fully enjoy the outdoors in one of South County’s most invigorating and scenic settings.

While the parks’ season doesn’t officially open until May 20th, an “Invasive Species Workshop” will actually occur a week ahead of that, on Saturday, May 13th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. All ages are welcome for this event, to learn how to identify “pesky species, management tactics and how to prevent their spread,” Ms. Kordack said.

The fact is, the Corps of Engineers staff, numbering just four people, headed by Project Manager Tim Russell, is pretty much straight out nine months of the year, from March into November.

“We’re already working weekends,” Ms. Kordack said. “We’re busy here, we have high visitation. We hire three contractors, we have two volunteer couples who join us in April. These are retired people who are our after-hours ears and eyes. They’re the same couples who helped last summer and they’ve returned.”

Nature lovers will be pleased to know that there is something for everyone at the two parks in 2017. Already in the books, for instance, were a “Spring Rains Story Walk” on top of Hodges Village Dam on March 26th and a “Full Moon Vernal Pool Walk” there on April 9th.

The months of May and June bring the parks into full swing. A “Cinco de Mayo—Birds!” walk at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 5th will give participants a chance to get educated about the birds that enjoy the river and wetland area below Hodges Village Dam (bring binoculars and alert senses, but no dogs!).

Ms. Kordack is already pointing interest toward a “Plant for Pollinators” event scheduled for 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday, June 3rd at Hodges Village Dam. She is encouraging scouts and families’ help planting four-foot by four-foot plots of wildflowers. Each plot will be posted with a sign (RSVP to [email protected] to have a sign made). Participants are asked to bring topsoil, humus, natural fertilizer, peat, gloves and their own drinking water. Snacks will be provided. The Corps of Engineers will provide the New England wildflower mix and the tools. Pre-register by June 2nd by calling 978-318-8399 or emailing Ms. Kordack.

The weekend of June 10th and 11th will involve the water. On Saturday, Todd Girard of the Charlton Conservation Commission will put on a fly-fishing demonstration at Buffumville Park. This event, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., will also give attendees the opportunity to learn about boating and water safety, to ask questions of a wildlife expert and to take a short hike. Attendees can stay for a picnic or a swim.

On Sunday, June 11th, kayakers and canoers are invited to paddle down the French River on a guided tour from Green Briar to Hodges Village Dam. Register for this event by calling Tim Russell at 978-318-8426.

None of this takes into account disc golf, which has become a popular pastime at both Buffumville Park and HVD. “We have courses at both parks,” Ms. Kordack said. “The one at Hodges Village Dam is more primitive. Most of the tournaments are held here. We have leagues at both parks, run by Jay Nourse (at Buffum) and Scott DeYoung (at Hodges).

“Disc golf is huge, it’s always been big here. Ours was one of the first courses in New England.”

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.