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Fall River Open Space Plan
E. Fisheries and Wildlife
i.) General Inventory
According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement (DFWELE), Fall River has two freshwater pond fisheries - Cook and South Watuppa Ponds. Fishing is prohibited in the North Watuppa Pond as it is the City's primary public water supply. While a 1986 survey of the Copicut Reservoir identified the 800 acre Copicut Reservoir as an important inland fisheries resource, it has not been developed as a public fishery due to its public water supply usage.
Several streams in and around Fall River are stocked with brook and brown trout by the DFWELE. Throughout southeastern Massachusetts the Division stocks about 125,000 trout in the Spring and 10,000 in the Fall. Trout streams in Fall River are Shingle Island River in the far eastern corner of the City boundary, Rattlesnake Brook in the Freetown-Fall River State Forest, and Bread and Cheese Brook in the southern corner of the City draining to the Westport River.
Cook Pond was reclaimed in 1971 and is referred to by the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and the Environmental Law Enforcement as one of the most fertile ponds in the state. The pond was last surveyed for fish populations in 1979 and seven species of fish were sampled at that time. Gamefish sampled were largemouth bass and chain pickerel. Panfish, by order of abundance, were yellow perch, bluegill, white perch and pumpkinseed. Golden shiners provide a forage base.
While fishing at Cook Pond is exceptional due to the fertility of the water, fishing pressure is high and consequently large examples of gamefish are fairly scarce. Largemouth bass are most abundant. Tiger muskies were stocked in the pond in 1980, 1987, 1988 and 1991. Panfish are also an excellent resource in Cook Pond, particularly yellow perch which are very abundant and range up to a foot in length. Bluegills and pumpkinseed are also common and of good average size.
South Watuppa Pond
The South Watuppa Pond was last surveyed in 1979 when 10 species were found. Smallmouth and largemouth bass compose the game species, while white perch, yellow perch, golden shiner, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, bluegill, goldfish and black crappie compose the panfish and baitfish. Northern pike and tiger muskies are also present today.
The large size, abundant structure and moderate fertility of the South Watuppa make it excellent habitat for smallmouth bass. Smallmouth fishing is good, both in numbers and size. Largemouth bass fishing is good also. Yellow perch are under-harvested and average about seven and a half inches long. The chief forage base for bass is golden shiners.
Most of the pond's productivity is tied up in white perch, but tiger muskies were stocked here in 1985; northern pike in 1989 and 1990. These fish should have reached harvestable size (28 inches) in roughly five years. Beside providing additional sport for anglers, it is hoped they will have a reduction effect on the white perch.
According to a report prepared by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries in 1906 (Belding), the estuarine waters of the Taunton River produced the finest oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in Massachusetts. The river was the mainstay of the Commonwealth's oyster fishery from the mid 1800's until it was closed to protect public health due to pollution in 1907. Prior to its closure, the river yielded approximately 38,000 bushels of oysters a year as well as countless bushels of quahogs (Mercenaria mercenaria) and soft shelled clams (Mya arenaria). After the 1907 closure, several aquaculture leases were granted in Dighton, Berkley and Freetown to growout oysters. Once the oysters reached legal size, they were relayed to leases in clean waters for depuration.
The Commonwealth also used the Taunton River as an oyster contaminated relay from 1910 to 1985. In 1985, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries permitted the relay of nearly 12,000 bushels of oysters to other towns for depuration. The Division is presently conducting a sanitary survey of the Taunton River to reassess the potential reclamation of the area for the safe harvest of shellfish. Based on observations during the survey, the oyster population is estimated to be more than 20,000 bushels.
The primary wildlife habitats in the Fall River area are the Fall River-Freetown State Forest and State Game sanctuary in East Fall River. Although the majority of acreage herein is located in Freetown (which abuts Fall River to the north and northeast), a sizable portion covers the northern part of East Fall River.
Species that are indigenous to, or have been observed, or are seasonally migratory to the aforementioned area are summarized in the Appendix. In total there are 310 wildlife species identified in this Plan including 12 fish, 48 mammals, 208 birds, 22 reptiles and 20 amphibians. Many of the species listed are common to the area, however, less commonly observed species, which were recorded on rare occasions, were included for historical purposes.
The forestlands of east Fall River are part of the largest contiguous mass of open space in southeastern Massachusetts. Together, the Freetown-Fall River State Forest, Watuppa and Copicut watershed lands and the Acushnet Sawmills property comprise outstanding wildlife habitat and the means for undisturbed migration and dispersal of various species. Outside of the City's boundaries these areas connect through wooded swamps and upland forest north to the Taunton River corridor and south to the shores of Buzzards Bay through Dartmouth.
A vision for the future of this area, called the "Copicut Greenbelt", seeks to protect the remaining privately held parcels between the Freetown-Fall River State Forest through the Fall River watershed lands to the Acushnet Cedar Swamp in the City of New Bedford. Such a greenbelt would encompass more than 10,000 acres.
The Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) maintains an atlas of all vertebrate and invertebrate species that are endangered, threatened or are of special concern in the state. The term "Special Concern" implies that these species could easily become threatened in the near future. The Massachusetts Natural Heritage Atlas states that Fall River has six species of special concern. they include: the Cooper's Hawk, the Spotted Turtle, the Four-Toed Salamander, the Eastern Box Turtle, the Purple Tiger Beetle, and the Elderberry Long-horned Beetle. There are only two endangered species listed for Fall River: the Peregrine Falcon and the American Burying Beetle. A few rare invertebrate species are only known by their historical occurrence with no current observations on record. These species include: the Purple Tiger Beetle, the Elderberry Long-horned Beetle, and the American Burying Beetle.
Key to Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Rank:
Key to Federal Rank: