Project Information

Buffumville Lake in Charlton, Massachusetts, Worcester County, is located along the Little River and South Fork River in the upper Thames River Basin. This is a multi-purpose project built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New England District. The dam was authorized by Congress in 1936 for flood risk management and recreation purposes. After catastrophic damages resulted in the surrounding towns from Hurricanes Connie and Diane in 1955, construction of Buffumville Dam started in 1956 and was completed in April 1958, at a cost of $3,068,000. Buffumville Dam is a rolled earthfill dam that is 3,255 feet long and 57.5 feet high. The operation of Buffumville Dam helps to reduce flooding primarily in Webster, Massachusetts, and in small towns downstream along the French River to Putnam, Connecticut. Optimum flood protection is achieved by close coordination between Buffumville Dam and Hodges Village Dam in Oxford. The project offers recreational opportunities compatible with the primary function of flood risk management.

While the main purpose of Buffumville Lake is to provide flood risk management to the Thames River Basin, over the years the lake has become a recreational hotspot. With 7 miles of trails, 480 acres of land, 200 acres of water, picnic areas, a swimming beach, 18-hole disc golf course, and a boat launch, the lake can accommodate all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. During the summer months, the water level is maintained at 11 feet pool stage. In the winter the lake is drawn down 4 feet to aid in control of aquatic invasive species to preserve native aquatic habitats.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the natural resources at Buffumville Lake for multiple uses: flood risk management, wildlife habitat, forest production, watershed protection, and outdoor recreation. The outdoor sports enthusiast can hunt, fish and boat at Buffumville Lake. On the west side of the lake, red oak, white oak, and hickory tree species are commonly found. The east side of Buffumville Lake supports white pine and hemlock. Deer, rabbits, geese, raccoons, fox, and a variety of songbirds are some of the wildlife inhabiting these natural areas. The lake is a warm-water fishery, with good populations of large-mouth bass, pickerel, horned pout, bream, and numerous other fish species. All project lands and waters are under the jurisdiction of CFR Title 36 regulations, state, and local laws.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is updating the Buffumville Lake Master Plan. The Master Plan is the strategic land use management document that guides the comprehensive management and development of all project resources throughout the life of a USACE project. The Master Plan guides efficient and cost-effective management, development, and use of project lands. It is a vital tool for the responsible stewardship and sustainability of project resources for the benefit of present and future generations. The Master Plan guides and articulates USACE responsibilities, pursuant to federal laws to preserve, conserve, restore, maintain, manage, and develop project lands and waters and associated resources. The intent of an updated Master Plan is to present a current inventory and assessment of resources, provide an analysis of resource use, and evaluate existing and future needs required to protect and improve the value of resources at a project.

The current Buffumville Lake Master Plan, last approved in 1976, needs revision to address changes in regional land use, population, outdoor recreation trends, and the USACE management policy. Key topics to be discussed in the revised Master Plan include revised land use classifications, new natural and recreational resource management objectives, recreation facility needs, and special issues such as invasive species management and threatened and endangered species habitat. The Master Plan revision WILL NOT address the technical and operational aspects of the lake related to flood risk management or the water conservation missions of the project. During the process, the team will collect data, conduct analysis, prepare a draft report (which will become available for public and agency comments), and ultimately finalize and adopt the new Master Plan.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will host an open house on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the Charlton Public Library Community Meeting Room, to share details on a draft revision process of the Buffumville Lake Master Plan and showcase the existing land use classification maps, which are original from 1976.  A 30-day public comment period began on May 1, 2024, and will end on May 31, 2024.

Public Comment

A 30-day comment period will begin May 1, 2024, and end May 31, 2024. The public can send comments, suggestions, and concerns during this time. Comments must be submitted in writing at the open house or digitally via email by contacting