By Timothy J. Dugan, USACEApril 20, 2018
Controlled releases of water by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, from Birch Hill Dam and Tully Lake Dam, both in Royalston, Massachusetts, took place on Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15, 2018 to provide adequate river flows for recreational canoeing, kayaking and rafting on the Millers River.
The Corps of Engineers provided water release flows up to 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) from Birch Hill Dam and 400 cfs from Tully Lake Dam for the weekend events, according to Project Manager Jeffrey Mangum in Royalston.
Various events by local groups are scheduled for Athol-Orange, included the 55th annual River Rat Race on Saturday. Events by local groups scheduled in Erving included the Zoar Outdoor Rafting on Saturday and the Zoar Outdoor Rafting on Sunday. "There were approximately 200 paddlers in the Rat Race on Saturday with approximately 500 spectators on the route," said Bill Mehr, Natural Resource Specialist at Tully Lake. "There were approximately 30 recreational paddlers that took advantage of the release from Birch Hill."
According to Mehr, three commercial companies scheduled trips on the Millers River off property on Saturday. "Approximately 20 boats, 100 customers and 20 staff for the three companies participated," he said.
The majority of the events scheduled for Sunday were canceled due to the forecast of bad weather that day.
Construction of Birch Hill Dam was completed in 1942 at a cost of $4.8 million. The 1,400-foot-long, 56-foot-high dam can store 16.2 billion gallons of water. To date, flood damages amounting to more than $80.3 million ($257.9 million, adjusted for inflation) have been prevented. The state-leased Lake Dennison Recreation Area offers many recreational opportunities, including camping, hiking, hunting, swimming, picnicking, boating, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling and cross country skiing, and attracts more than 250,000 visitors annually. For details contact the Park Ranger staff at 978-249-4467 or visit the website at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/BirchHillDam.
Tully Lake Dam, on the East Branch of the Tully River in Royalston, is 1,570 feet long and 62 feet high. Completed in 1949 at a cost of $1.7 million, the dam has a reservoir storage capacity of 7.1 billion gallons of water. Tully Lake Dam has prevented flood damages of $29.1 million ($81.1 million, adjusted for inflation) since it was constructed. More than 100,000 visitors annually enjoy picnicking, hiking, boating, camping, mountain biking, disc golfing, fishing, hunting and cross country skiing. For details contact the Park Ranger staff at (978) 249-9150 or visit the website at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/TullyLake.