Implementation of the recently approved all-pond Goose Management Plan for Richmond Pond is ramping up, as the ice is now off the pond. Details of the plan are summarized in the March issue of Richmond Record (reprinted with permission below) and on the RPA website’s Minutes page. But in short, with over 200 geese on the pond last summer and more expected this summer, unless control measures are taken, the health risks from their excrement will soon render the pond unhealthy for swimming and other recreation.
We’re asking all of you to consider helping us in the following ways:
Nesting - Please contact John Mead at Lakeside Christian Camp, by clicking on & completing the Goose Nesting Location Report if you notice that Canada geese are nesting on a specific property on or near Richmond Pond. Please include the specific location of the nest. John or another RPA volunteer will then determine whether an egg addling permit has yet been issued for that property and if not, will arrange to contact the landowner to provide related information.
Training - Please also consider volunteering to serve on one of the Canada goose egg addling teams. All such volunteers must participate in the related training session being conducted by Wild Goose Chase NE. The training was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 6, 1:30 pm at Lakeside Christian Camp, but had to be postponed. It will be rescheduled soon. You need not be a homeowner where geese might nest, or even live on or near the pond, to help us with this process. Sign up by contacting Laura Rosenthal at email@example.com.
The two camps, South Pond Farm, the Town of Richmond and others are in the process of completing and submitting the state-required egg addling permit applications. Addling is a one-time visit to the nest to coat eggs with Wesson oil, and can be done by Wild Goose Chase NE, RPA volunteers, or the landowner, but only after the permit is issued for that location, and following training. The oil coating deprives the embryo of the oxygen needed for further development, but since the egg is returned to the nest, the goose believes it is still developing. It is essential to mislead the goose, or it would begin laying again.
Feeding - Lastly, please do not feed the geese. Feeding them encourages them to hang around and would undercut the plan’s multiple efforts to encourage most of the geese to go elsewhere, thereby keeping Richmond Pond and its beaches a safe and healthy place to swim, boat, fish and enjoy.
The life cycle of Canada Geese and related management practices have been researched by Mass Wildlife. Click link below for more detailed about Canada Geese.
Also, further down on this page is more information about the management plan, plus summaries of the proposed book on the History of Richmond Pond, and Richmond Pond's hosting of the paddle segment of the Josh Billings RunAground Triathlon in 2018.
Summer 2018 – Camp Russell, Richmond Town Beach, Lakeside Christian Camp, & South Pond Farm beach areas all experienced issues with geese. South Pond Farm hired Wild Goose Chase NE dogs & also used volunteers to chase away the geese, but the geese just went elsewhere on the pond, returning later. Camp Russell and Lakeside Christian Camp lawns were inundated with goose excrement, creating health concerns. At Town Beach, the number of geese chased from the beach area on some days was nearly 80. The goose poop there has been excessive and needed to be cleaned daily; on some days, the cleaning took staff over an hour. Despite fencing and lifeguard and other staffing of the Town Beach, the weekly beach water sampling results for E-coli exceeded safe swimming levels twice during the summer and resulted in beach closings – once in July and once in August. Counts of geese on the pond, especially in late summer, numbered as many as 150 to 200.
10/23/18 – Discussion of the goose problem at RPA meeting. With that many geese on the pond in 2018 and more expected next summer, unless pond-wide control measures are taken, it was concluded that health risks from their excrement would soon render the pond unhealthy for swimming and other recreation, ultimately also impacting property values. Health risks are the primary concern. Decision was made by the RPA to develop, as a winter project, an all-pond goose management plan for 2019; John Mead volunteered to lead plan development committee; minutes posted on website afterward.
2/26/19 – Special RPA meeting to review & discuss draft goose management plan; Wild Goose Chase NE director & dog attended. Decision made, unanimously, to approve the plan & proceed to implementation; minutes posted on RPA website afterward
March 2019 – Detailed article about the plan appeared in Richmond Record
April 2019 – Detailed article about the egg addling component appeared in Richmond Record
Canada Goose life cycle - Resident geese can live more than 20 years, returning each year to the same or nearby nesting area. Most geese begin breeding at 2-3 years old and nest every year for the rest of their lives. Laying an average of 5 eggs per nest, about half of which will hatch and become free-flying birds, a female goose may produce more than 50 young over her lifetime. Several times last summer, more than 200 geese were congregating on Richmond Pond. If only a quarter of this number hatch 2.5 surviving goslings, we could expect to see an additional 125 geese this coming season.
Components of the plan – 3 components & 3 phases - The comprehensive goose management plan has several components – habitat modification (shoreline vegetative barriers, minimization of cut grass lawns, not feeding the geese, etc.), nesting management during nesting period, and lake management.
The plan is implemented in 3 phases:
Prior to nesting season - The staff and border collies of Wild Goose Chase NE visit up to three times/week to herd-chase the geese off the lake - by land (off the grassy shores of the camps and beaches, only on those properties where owner permission has been granted), and by “sea” (with the collie and handler on a motorboat or kayak supplied by Lakeside Christian Camp). When the motorboat is used, it is not to come at the geese at high speed, but to transport the dog near the swimming geese where its menacing proximity causes the geese to take off. The motorboat also transports the dog to geese on land, where the dog jumps off & herds them off the land. Herd-chasing starts in the spring prior to the nesting season. The goal of herd-chasing is to help the geese learn that Richmond Pond is not a “safe, relaxing, goose-friendly environment” and to encourage most of them to go elsewhere, hopefully before they begin nesting. As stated on their website, “Working border collies … provide safe, humane and effective control of year-round problem geese. They have a classic predator appearance that geese take seriously.” Ducks and other wildlife will not be chased by the dogs.
Nesting season - Herd-chasing stops during the 6 to 8-week long adult wing feather molt, when the geese nest and raise their goslings; the adults cannot fly during this period. The nesting management phase involves RPA volunteers distributing egg addling permit applications to landowners where geese are known to have recently nested or where nesting is expected. Completed forms must be mailed to MassWildlife, which then issues a permit to the landowner to allow addling on that property only. The two camps, South Pond Farm and the Town are also in the process of or have completed these permit applications. Addling is a one-time visit to the nest to coat eggs with Wesson oil & return them to the nest, and can be done by Wild Goose Chase NE, RPA volunteers or the landowner, but only after the permit is issued & related training has occurred. Eggs are not to be shaken or broken. Addling will not proceed if the egg “float test” determines that the eggs have developed enough to become viable (embryo can breathe). Addling may not occur on properties where permits have not been approved. A post-season report on nests and eggs addled must be filed with MassWildlife.
After nesting season - Once both adults and goslings can fly, herd-chasing by Wild Goose Chase NE resumes, again to encourage most of the geese to go elsewhere. After the summer, hunting (with hunting license and waterfowl permit, well away from dwellings, during the early and late fall goose hunting seasons) could also help reduce numbers of resident geese.
Financing the plan - The RPA board committed to pay 50% of the “not to exceed” $12,460 cost of the contract with Wild Goose Chase NE, requesting that each of the five PIPOs (primary impacted property owners) support a 10% share of the cost – Lakeside Christian Camp, Camp Russell, South Pond Farm Condominiums, Richmond Shores Civic Association, and the Town of Richmond (with its Town Beach and public boat launch). Pending reimbursement to the RPA from the PIPOs, the RPA also committed, if needed, to “front” the other 50% so that billings from the vendor can be paid in a timely fashion.
DETER NUISANCE GEESE AND DEER - In some locations in Massachusetts, Canada geese and white-tailed deer are considered pests. Planting buffers along the shoreline helps to restore the landscape back to a more natural condition and will deter Canada Geese from visiting your lawn. Geese love succulent green grass, but will not travel through tall grasses or dense vegetation to get to it. This is especially true when parents have goslings that cannot yet fly. Geese are most comfortable in open areas that provide unobstructed views around them and easy access to the water, which is their safe haven from predators. Planting a mix of shrubs and trees, or even allowing grasses and ferns to grow tall, will act as a barrier between the water and your lawn. Removing waterfront lawns means removing a ready source of food, which ultimately helps to maintain goose populations at more natural levels.
By Ken Kelly
On the evening of February 26th, Town Hall hosted a border collie demonstration by Eric Johnson of Wild Goose Chase NE and one of his five working dogs, “Skye.” Paying alert attention to Eric’s voice commands, Skye zig-zagged her way through the attentive crowd, finishing the demonstration with an alert sit at Eric’s feet, clearly eager for more.
Almost two dozen participated in this special meeting of the Richmond Pond Association, where John Mead, Executive Director of Lakeside Christian Camp, presented the results of the small work group that had researched and developed a multi-faceted plan to reduce the resident Canada goose population on Richmond Pond. The plan, which includes information from Mass Wildlife and NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation resources, includes the following background.
As those who live on or use the pond know, the Richmond Pond Canada resident goose population exploded in 2018. Consequently, the pond and abutting properties experienced large accumulations of droppings and feathers; nutrient loading of the pond, contributing to algae and weed growth; aggressive behavior by nesting birds, endangering children; and public health concerns at beaches, causing the closure of several during the summer. Allowed to continue unchecked, continued expansion of the resident goose population and corresponding degradation of pond and property conditions will severely impact the safe recreational use of Richmond Pond and abutting properties. Over the long term the situation may impact property values.
Resident geese can live more than 20 years, returning each year to the same or nearby nesting area. Most geese begin breeding at 2-3 years old and nest every year for the rest of their lives. Laying an average of 5 eggs per nest, about half of which will hatch and become free-flying birds, a female goose may produce more than 50 young over her lifetime. Several times last summer, more than 200 geese were congregating on Richmond Pond. If only a quarter of this number hatch 2.5 surviving goslings, we could expect to see an additional 125 geese this coming season.
Short grass, abundant lakes and ponds, lack of natural predators, limited hunting, and supplemental feeding have created an explosion in resident goose numbers. While most people find a small number of geese acceptable, problems have developed as the local flock has grown and the droppings have become excessive. A goose produces a pound of droppings per day.
As was explained at the meeting, an all-pond strategy is necessary. If only one or two camps or community associations arrange to chase the geese away, the entire pond will suffer, as the geese just temporarily relocate elsewhere on the pond and soon return to the camp or community. The goal is to help the geese learn that Richmond Pond is not a “safe, relaxing, goose-friendly environment” and encourage most of them to go elsewhere.
The comprehensive goose management plan has several phased components – habitat modification (shoreline vegetative barriers, etc.), nesting management and lake management - designed to take into account the life cycle of the geese. Implementation involves the staff and border collies of Wild Goose Chase NE visiting up to three times/week to herd-chase the geese off the lake - by land (off the grassy shores of the camps and beaches, with owner permission), and by “sea” (with the collie and handler on a motorboat or kayak supplied by Lakeside Christian Camp). Herd-chasing starts in the spring prior to the nesting season and continues until the 6-8-week adult wing feather molt period begins, when the geese nest and raise their goslings. Once both adults and gosling can fly, herd-chasing resumes. As stated on their website, “Working border collies … provide safe, humane and effective control of year-round problem geese. They have a classic predator appearance that geese take seriously.”
The nesting management phase involves RPA volunteers distributing egg addling permit applications to landowners where geese are known to have recently nested or where nesting is expected. This is being done now. Completed forms must be mailed to MassWildlife, which then issues a permit to the landowner to allow addling on that property only. The two camps, South Pond Farm and the Town are also completing these permit applications. Addling is a one-time visit to the nest to coat eggs with Wesson oil, and can be done by Wild Goose Chase NE, RPA volunteers or the landowner, but only after the permit is issued.
Individual homeowners and camps are also encouraged to take some measures on their own. These include not feeding the geese, assisting in locating nesting sites, installing native vegetation borders along shorelines (no permit required), installing fencing or non-native vegetative barriers along shorelines (permit required), minimizing cut grass lawns, or hunting (with hunting license and waterfowl permit, well away from dwellings, during the early and late fall goose hunting seasons).
Following extensive discussion, all present were asked whether they supported the plan (all did). The RPA board then unanimously voted to endorse the plan and committed to pay 50% of the “not to exceed” $12,460 cost of the contract with Wild Goose Chase NE, requesting that each of the five PIPOs (primary impacted property owners) support a 10% share of the cost – Lakeside Christian Camp, Camp Russell, South Pond Farm Condominiums, Richmond Shores Civic Association, and the Town of Richmond (with its Town Beach and public boat launch). Pending reimbursement to the RPA from the PIPOs, the RPA also committed, if needed, to “front” the other 50% so that billings from the vendor can be paid in a timely fashion.
Volunteers are encouraged to contact Laura Rosenthal at South Pond Farm or John Mead at Lakeside Christian Camp. Their contact information is on the RPA website at www.richmondpondassociation.org.
NOTE - This article previously appeared in the March 2019 issue of the Richmond Record. It is reprinted here with the permission of the Editor.
Annual subscriptions to the monthly Richmond Record are available by mailing a check for $21 payable to Richmond Record, addressed to Richmond Record, PO Box 214, Richmond MA 01254. Individual copies of the current issue are also available at Bartlett's Orchard for $1.75.
This is a proposed book project of the Richmond Historical Commission
with support from the Richmond Pond Association
PROPOSED CONCEPT – A “collector’s” history book with photos, reasonably priced, to be developed & published, with editor & printer yet to be determined. Financial/marketing plan is yet to be developed. RPA would sell advertising/sponsorships, & RPA to provide “front money” for publishing, reimbursed by book sales.
PROJECT GROUP - Gloria Morse, Holly Stover, Ken Kelly & Matthew Palardy
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - The staff of both of the pond’s camps & the officers of the four pond community associations are asked to provide summaries of their histories & interesting anecdotes, in Word format, for possible inclusion. Please submit them to Ken Kelly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Introduction, including History of Richmond Pond Association & Richmond Historical Commission
· Geology, Typography, the Pond & its Tributaries
· Local Native American history; early history of Richmond (maps, deed references); Shaker community
· First cottages & early evolution of camps & communities
· Raising the pond; the dam (1865), submerging the county road that crossed the pond
· Richmond town beach(es)
· Boat launch (1970’s)..
· Pond health, Diagnostic Feasibility Study, septic systems/sewer system; inlet dredging; beach & tributary monitoring
· Weed management efforts; protection measures from other invasives
· The fishery; native & introduced species, with history of fish stocking; other wildlife
· The railroads (narrow gauge & regular), & their historic local uses, including ice harvesting
· Pontoon planes during WW II; Truran’s boat rental service
· Legends – Ghost stories - The Green Hand; Prohibition activities; others…
History of the current & former camps:
· Camp Allegro (girls camp); now Lakeside Christian Camp & Conference Center
· Camp Russell (on the former Branch Farm); initially boys only & overnight; now coed day camp
· Camp Bluebird & Women’s Club of Pittsfield; Camp Marion White; its breakwater; Town Park effort
Each community association:
· Branch Farm (history of Branch Farm; Boys Club role)
· Whitewood (initially Truran’s cottages)
· Richmond Shores (Lakeside Co., development began 1948)
· South Pond Farm Condominiums (from Scace property; Town & RPA role in limiting its parameters)
· Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary; Hosting The Josh; Balderdash Cellars Winery; …
Because of the closure of Stockbridge Bowl to swimming & other activities related to the toxic algae bloom there, the planning committee for the Josh RunAground requested and received approval from the chair of the Richmond Board of Selectmen, in response to a recommendation from the Richmond Pond Harbormaster (the Richmond Town Administrator), to relocate the canoe/kayak/SUP component of the Sunday, September 16th Josh Billings RunAground Triathlon to Richmond Pond. The Richmond Pond Association executive board was consulted & enthusiastically endorsed this action.
The decision to use Richmond Pond was publicly released (see article in 9/10/18 Berkshire Eagle, front page of Sports section). Details of the re-routing of the 3-part race were finalized by the race committee in close coordination with Town of Richmond officials, volunteers from the Richmond Pond Association and many others.
The race director has asked me to share her own and the race committee's thanks to the Richmond Pond community for allowing the Josh to use their roads, public boat ramp, Town Beach and Camp Russell for the 42nd Josh Billings Triathlon. Cooperation from Richmond Town officials, volunteers from the Richmond Pond Association & others was extremely helpful in "saving" the paddle portion of the race when Stockbridge Bowl became unavailable. This was an exciting event, introducing many from the Berkshires to Richmond Pond while many of those around the pond had a ring-side seat!
Ken Kelly, President
Richmond Pond Association
Bikes started in Great Barrington at the Price Chopper parking lot as usual. The bikers rode up to West Stockbridge on the usual route, however once they arrive in West Stockbridge they turned left and went up 41. They proceeded up 41 to a right turn onto Summit Road. Summit Road was closed to traffic. At the end of Summit, the bikers turned left onto Swamp Road and then left onto Boys Club Road. The bikers proceeded down the road and turned left onto a gravel road (Beech Road/Town Beach Road) which took them all the way to the Richmond Boat Ramp where the transition area was for all paddlers and the iron/tin racers. The bike leg is 23.8 miles.
The paddlers took the hand-off at the Boat Ramp and then ran/jogged/walked 1/3 mile to the Richmond Town Beach where the paddling leg began. Iron/tin racers had their transition at the Boat Ramp and then headed to the Town Beach to begin paddling. The paddle was 2½ times around the lake counter-clockwise, ending at Camp Russell. The runners waited for the paddlers at the camp and the iron/tin transition area was also at the camp. The paddle is ~5 miles.
The runners took the hand-off at the Camp Russell beach and ran up to Swamp Road. They turned right on Swamp Road, took a left down East Road, came down to a left on Lenox Road and then proceeded up and over the mountain to the finish at Tanglewood. Lenox Mountain Road was closed to traffic. The run course is 6.5 miles.