River Restoration - UPDATED 2017
The Child's River runs from John's Pond in Mashpee and
empties into the Waquoit Bay in Falmouth. It passes
through the middle of the property owned by the Falmouth Rod
and Gun Club. The Clubhouse presently sits on a
plateau overlooking the river.
Historically the Child's River has been known mostly as a herring river, an important commercial enterprise and source of income for the local economy.
In the early 1900's the river also became known as a world class Salter Brook Trout river along with other local rivvers such as the Coonamessett, Quashnet and Mashpee Rivers. It is believed to have been fished by two past US Presidents. Over a period of many years the Child's suffered catastrophic damage to it's ecosystem in part due to chemicals and water temperature increases from upstream cranberry bogs, as well as siltation which smothered the stream bed and prevented trout from spawning. The lower reaches of the river became choked by overvegitation and debris causing reduced water flow.
In 1969, the Falmouth Rod and Gun Club installed a fish ladder to aid herring to pass more easily upstream to spawn. In 1990, the club undertook a major project in cooperation with the Falmouth Department of Natural Resources. This project removed over vegitation and debris from the river channel between the lower pond and the outflow of the river to improve water flow and the free passage of fish.
In 2008, the club committed to the restoration of the lower reaches of the Child's River as a Salter Brook Trout river. This effort is undertaken with the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife, Massachusetts Riverways and the Waquoit Bay National Research Reserve. On June 4, 2008 the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Steve Hurley and his team moved 19 adult Salter Brook Trout from the restored Quashnet River to the Child's River. At that time the implanted a PIT tag (a kind of bar code tag) into each fish. When released, their size, PIT tag number and the exact GPS location was recorded for future reference and tracking purposes. Since being moved to the Child's river two fish surveys have been conducted to ascertain that the fish have stayed and adapted to the new home. The second of these surveys revealed 11 of the original stocked fish were able to be located with some movement in the river and very good growth. This is encouraging news and the group is looking forward to April of 2009 when an electroshocking survey will be conducted. This will determine if these fish were able to successfully spawn and may reveal young trout in the river.
The Falmouth Rod and Gun Club (FRGC), in conjunction with its charitable foundation, the Sporting, Safety, Conservation and Education Fund of Falmouth (SSCEFF) wants to move this project along. Together with the Towns of Falmouth and Mashpee, the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others, it hopes to lead the project to restore two abandoned bogs, the Farley and the Gardner, back to their original state. Both of these bogs are fed by the Childs River which historically allowed herring and trout to spawn up river. Unused dams and invasive plant species on the river have nearly eradicated that capability. The groups have a plan to fix that problem.
The solution is to remove a dam which creates two shallow ponds, rerouting the Upper Childs River to the west side of the bogs, constructing an embankment along the east side of the river and planting native plant species, the upper Childs River could be made into a “cold water fishery” which will allow the return and propagation of Brook Trout and Herring to the river. The restoration of the cranberry bogs to wetlands will create habitat for songbirds, waterfowl and other wildlife. The wetlands will act as a natural filtration system for water resources in both towns.
The Farley Bog is located in East Falmouth, MA and borders the Falmouth/Mashpee Town line. The Farley Bog and the Childs River are part of a 12.5-acre parcel owned by the Town of Falmouth. The northern tip of the Farley Bog lies within a 24.7-acre parcel owned by the Town of Mashpee. The Childs River extends north from the Farley Bog to the Gardner Bogs all of which are within the Mashpee parcel.
Fortunately, the FRGC owns 186 acres of land in Falmouth and Mashpee which virtually surrounds the Farley Bog and the portion of the Childs River leading north to the Gardner Bogs. The FRGC and SSCEFF have proposed to acquire these parcels to rehabilitate the upper Childs River and restore the Farley and Gardner cranberry bogs to wetlands. The land and river would have a Conservation Restriction to ensure it would remain undeveloped but still be accessible to the public for hiking and enjoying nature.
This is a worthwhile project that will benefit the surrounding communities and restore the area to its eco-friendly natural state.