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Posted 2/28/2018

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By Ann Marie R. Harvie
USACE, New England District


Several families, Scouts from Douglas, Massachusetts, advanced Junior Rangers and volunteers joined the West Hill Dam team for an animal trek held at the project site in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, Jan. 14.  The Animal Trek is one of West Hill Dam’s many interpretive programs the team holds throughout the year.

Participants young and old grabbed their rulers and footprint charts and headed out with Park Rangers for a family friendly hike to find animal tracks.  “We located deer and dog tracks mostly,” said Park Ranger Viola Bramel.  “There were no birds near the open water on the West River.  We found several scat piles (animal excrement) on our track."

One little girl, Natalie, brought her field journal with her and kept notes for the group, according to Bramel.  “She recorded the weather with symbols she drew in her journal,” said Bramel.  “For example, she drew a sun to signify it was sunny out.”

As they walked, the Park Rangers discussed the importance of ice safety.  “It was eye opening when some of the kids jumped on an ice-covered puddle to measure the ice,” said Bramel.  “They measured the thickness, which was only half an inch.”

Bramel said the Park Rangers told the trek participants that ice had to be at least 4-inches thick for a person to walk on it safely.  “They took out their rulers and visualized the safe measurements for ice,” said Bramel.

To continue with the ice theme, as trekkers took measurements of the animal tracks they found, Park Ranger Mark Larson discussed the weekend operations at the Woonsocket and West Hill Dams due to ice jams and other related weather conditions.  Andy LaBonte, a Park Ranger now working in Human Resources, and Corps Volunteer Linda Martin assisted with the event.

West Hill Dam has recreational opportunities and free family-friendly events year-round.  For a copy of the 2018 special events calendar, please go to http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Portals/74/docs/Recreation/WHD/West_Hill_Dam_Events_2018.pdf.