Weed Management at Richmond Pond
A five-year weed management plan, developed for the Town by a predecessor to the current vendor, Solitude Lake Management, covers the calendar years 2013-2017. Year 3 of the plan was 2015, and as in prior years, the vendor conducted a pre-treatment assessment of re-growth of our two invasive weeds – Eurasian Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) and Curly-Leaf Pondweed (Potamogeton crispus), to determine areas to be treated with an aquatic herbicide that does not significantly harm native weeds. An interim evaluation was conducted soon after treatment to determine whether additional spot-treatment was needed (it was not), and a post-treatment assessment was done in early fall to evaluate effectiveness of treatment and provide a baseline for the following year’s treatment recommendations.
It was noted both by the vendor and by residents and visitors around the pond that while the annual treatments of the invasive weeds appear to be very effective, it has eliminated the competition for the native weeds, some of which have proliferated, to the point of late-summer choking of the canal and its outflow area and exacerbated weed growth to the surface in other areas, also impacting boating and swimming activity. As the vendor’s Final Report for 2015 Aquatic Plant Management for Richmond Pond indicates, the two primary native weeds that appear to be creating concerns are Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum) and Tape Grass (Vallisneria americana). Additionally, the invasive Purple Loosestrife is spreading and also needs a treatment plan.
While the town has permits to treat the two primary invasive weeds, it does not have a permit to treat native weeds, and such permits are more difficult to obtain. In late summer, the Richmond Pond Association developed a strategy, including funding, to assist the Richmond Shores Association in removing dead weeds from the canal, but it could not be implemented before lake draw-down. The town and Richmond Pond Association are studying and consulting with the vendor about options going forward for management of purple loosestrife and the native weeds.
(Updated April 2016)
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About Richmond Pond
Since Richmond Pond is located in two jurisdictions - both Richmond and Pittsfield - the Town of Richmond and the City of Pittsfield work closely with each other and with the Richmond Pond Association on developing and carrying out management plans for Richmond Pond. A comprehensive Lake Management Plan has been developed and was adopted by the RPA in October 2016.
Strategies include consultations with local, state, and federal agencies and other lake management resources, hiring lake monitors to check for invasives and educate the public at the public boat launch ramp, posting signage about invasive species and boat washing, utilizing weed control measures including aquatic herbicide application to targeted areas of the lake, winter lake level draw-downs, and some hand-pulling of weeds.
A 5-year weed management plan (see below) has been developed, covering the calendar years 2013-2017. A water testing & related communications protocol has also been developed for Richmond Pond public and semi-public beaches and tributaries. Educational materials relating to safe boating and swimming, and for management of invasive species, have been developed and posted.
The Richmond Pond Association meets monthly from late spring through early fall (see Calendar) to evaluate the health of the pond and discuss and take action on related matters; all meetings are open to the public.
This 218 acre raised great pond has a maximum depth of 53 feet and an average depth of 18 feet. Transparency is very good, extending to 13 feet. The bottom is composed of silt and clay and supports abundant aquatic vegetation, which extends outward from most of the shoreline areas to depths of 6 or 8 feet.
Richmond Pond fills a depression scraped from the limestone-and-marble bedrock by advancing glaciers thousands of years ago. It lies at about 1,100 feet elevation in a narrow valley just east of the Taconic Mountains that rise to about 1,700 feet near the pond. To the west, the elevated ridge of Lenox Mountain climbs to an elevation of about 2,000 feet. The western half of the lake is shallow, with an average depth of less than ten feet. See Depth Chart.
Much of the southern and western shoreline is heavily developed, with approximately 120 seasonal cottages and year round dwellings. There are three camps on the lake - Camp Russell (Boys & Girls Club), Lakeside Christian Camp & Conference Center, and Camp Marion White (Girl Scouts). The northwest shore harbors the public access concrete boat launch, which is suitable for car top and shallow draft trailer boats; the parking lot can hold up to 30 vehicles. Please visit the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers link for information on how to prevent invasive species from invading the pond. The closest boat wash station to the Richmond Pond boat launch is V's Car Wash at 730 West Housatonic St., Pittsfield; directions to this facility are posted on the boat launch kiosk or are available from boat ramp monitors.
At the far end of the northwest shore is the Richmond town beach, with a large tract of undeveloped wetland and forest in between. The town beach is gated and is operated in summer for residents only; resident car beach stickers are available at Richmond Town Hall.
Railroad tracks run the length of the northwest shore a few yards from the lake. To the southwest of the lake is an extensive wetland, Nordeen Marsh, covering about 250 acres. It can be reached from the pond by canoe or kayak with an easy portage over the road.
A fish survey conducted in June 2012 found 10 species present: yellow perch, chain pickerel, largemouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, common shiner, bridle shiner, and killifish. The pond is also stocked in spring with rainbow trout, and some brook and brown trout.
(Note - Above text was adapted from mass.gov and Trails.com.)
Consumption of Fish Taken from Richmond Pond
Fish Testing Results - In summer of 2015, in response to a request from the Richmond Pond Association, the MA Department of Environmental Protection collected samples of the fish in Richmond Pond and tested them for Mercury contamination. All of the fish sampled tested well below the MA Department of Public Health fish consumption advisory "trigger level" for Mercury in fish, which is 0.5 mg/kg. Fish tested included rock bass, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead and largemouth bass (12" to 15"). Therefore, NO generic or species-specific fish consumption advisories are in place for Richmond Pond.
Please note: No trout were tested, but most Richmond Pond trout are stocked, so their Mercury levels are known to be very low. Also, PCB contamination is not a concern for Richmond Pond fish, as our water flows into, not from, the Housatonic River.
Predator fish - Since predator fish (bass and pickerel) bio-accumulate Mercury as they grow larger, the Mercury levels in the much larger bass and pickerel could exceed the consumption trigger level for Mercury. Therefore, it may be wise not to eat the trophy size bass and pickerel.
Pregnant Women & Children - There is a state-wide special caution, however, for pregnant women and children. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Fish Consumption Advisory for Marine and Fresh Water Bodies starts by stating that, "Fish is good for you and your family." However, they have issued generic safe eating guidelines for pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children under 12 years old, which state in part, "Do not eat freshwater fish caught in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds in Massachusetts. Safe to eat are fish that are stocked in streams, rivers, lakes and ponds in Massachusetts."
For more information, see the complete Guide to Eating Fish Safely in Massachusetts, available at: www.mass.gov/dph/fishadvisories