Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good News for the Hockomock Swamp

According to the Brockton Enterprise, Massachusetts is too broke to build the planned railroad through the heart of the Hockomock Swamp.

4 comments:

Chris Rich said...

Yes! I don't know for the life of me why the Commonwealth is so wedded to the idea of these capital intensive rail projects beyond the graft options the legislators so love.

I was there with friends one winter when it was iced over and snowy owls flew overhead. One friend observed the presence of gum trees from a more southern biome that might have come from seeds falling off of a rail car decades ago.

Mass mainly needs better bus system routes to address the isolation of the 'South Coast'. Buses don't need rails.

The restoration of the old rail grade would probably release sleeping messes into the adjoining portions of the swamp.

I remember standing on it in summer and hearing the loud speakers from the Raynham dog track near by.

Nature's Vietcong..mosquitos, tend to safeguard the place in summer.

Douglas Watts said...

You are correct, Chris, black gum or tupelo (Nyssa silvatica) are common in the Hockomock. I learned the scientific name for them because my dad pointed them out as we went through the swamp. He made me memorize it 30 years ago.

The tupelo aren't from a rail car, though. The Hock is right at their natural northern limit in Massachusetts.

Chris Rich said...

That makes sense. The most amazing thing, to me, about what is now called New England is the stunning biodiversity one finds from Byrum Connecticut to Fort Kent, Maine.

I spent 12 years in the Puget Basin, a species impoverished zone that looks swell.

This region, by contrast is magical. There is an odd boundary for marine life at Cape Cod. The Mid Atlantic Littoral is south and the Boreal Littoral is north.

On land, the pattern of glaciation makes amazing belts from the sandy soils near the Hock where White Cedar thrives to the quasi Taiga lands of the North Country.

Neotropicals arrive in a great surge in May and Tundra refugees visit in January. And then we have the stewards, your people, who kept the place pristine for thousands of years until my fellow euromutts wrecked it.

Traces are everywhere from ancient sturgeon weirs in the Merrimac off Tyngs island to the amazing array of traces you document along the Sebasticook.

I have heard Atlantic Salmon migrating on the Pleasant River in Maine late at night as I tried to sleep. It sounded like a cinder block being tossed in the water. I revel in the return of Moose to the Commonwealth.

The Lowell Dracut Forest is still a bit of Red Earth land where I learned Pow Wow etiquette from my friend Oannes. I have been to Pometacoms gathering site near Lake Dennison.

The stewardship restoration is long overdue.

Douglas Watts said...

Chris, the marine life changes dramatically south and north of Cape Cod. You can notice it just by swimming at Scusset Beach at the East end of the Cape Cod Canal and at the west end at Pocasset. The west end is 10 degrees warmer.

Southern Maine (York County) seems to be where everything changes, ie. trees. Shagbark hickories disappear. White birch appears. Spruce and balsam fir appear. Larch appears.