Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 – Year-end Review

Unfortunately, I need to work on New Years Eve, so my paddling is probably done for 2013. I try to do at least one big trip each month, and here are some of the more significant ones:

January - Blackstone Gorge
June - Salmon
September - West River
October - Picat Drawdown
November - Lower Pawtuxet

I did paddle a bunch of new rivers this year including the Scanticthe Pemmi in WoodstockSeboomook on the West Branchof the Penobscotthe Dead from Spenser Falls to West Folksand the Tville section of the Farmington.  Some of my favorite trips are here:

My Favorite Trips of 2013 from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

I didn’t do so well on my 2013 resolution to do more camping.  I’ll need to work on that again next year.  It's nice to have something to look forward to.

Tariffville Gorge or Tville – December 28, 2013

Cathy's Wave
I was looking for a place to paddle, but the options were pretty limited.  I saw on one of the local message boards that a group would be paddling Tville, so I decided to join in.  This would be my first Tville run.

Tariffville Gorge on the Farmington River is known locally as Tville.  It one of the best-known whitewater runs in southern New England, and is the site of an annual spring slalom race. The run itself is short - just 1.5 miles - but the water runs here most of the year, and there are play spots for paddlers of all skill levels.   At yesterday’s level (2.1 on the Tariffville gage – a low-medium level) it is a class II/III run.  The difficulty increases as the level rises.

Jo-ann at the Play Hole
I met up with Merrie, Denise and Jo-ann at Tariffville Park to run the shuttle down to the take-out on Tunxis Road below the Route 187 Bridge.  The river starts off easy with the few small ledges and nice surf waves.  The best of these are Cathy’s Wave and the Horseshoe Ledge.  At this water level, you can surf these waves for hours. 

As you enter the gorge the intensity picks up a bit.  There is a nice wave train along the Bridge Abutment Rapid, which we ran to the right.  We ran the rapid approaching the play hole on the left.  The old breached dam at Spoonville is gone, but the ledges above make a nice alternative, and there is a nice surf wave (Typewriter) as the river turns left around an island just above the take out (stay left).

Merrie surfs Typewriter
I was the only swimmer of the day in the squirrely water below the island.  I reached over to flip my dry bag back into my boat, and over I went.  The river runs along a ledge here with deep water that makes it difficult to recover the boat.  After a bit of a swim, we finally got to some shallow water. 

I can’t believe it took me so long to get here.  It’s a great place to paddle.

Where's Erik?
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

What a difference a week makes - Manville Dam again - December 21, 2013

Last week I took my canoe down to my local park and play spot at the Manville Dam with the temps in the mid 20’s - it was too cold to paddle. I went back again yesterday, on the first day of winter, and the temps were in the high 50’s. Like they say, if you don’t like New England weather, just wait a minute. 

Melting snow even brought the river up enough to do a little paddling with my whitewater boat. Nothing tough, but after a couple of hours of playing around, the inside of my drysuit was like a puddle. It felt good.

Manville Dam from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Manville Dam - December 15, 2013

Thinking that the temp’s would be in the 40’s, I decided to take my canoe down to the Manville Dam this morning.  As it turned out, the temp’s dropped much quicker than expected.  Based on the ice on the roads, and the ice that formed in my boat, it was nowhere near 40 °.  It was still nice to get out and paddle, even if it was only for a little while.

Selfie at the put-in
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Upper Ware River - December 1, 2013

Matt and Santa Mike
I got up early to go to the gym, and saw Santa Claus walking down Diamond Hill Road.  He didn’t have a big bag of toys, but he was carrying a Price Right bag full of groceries (only in Woonsocket).  When the day starts like that, you know it has to be good – and it was.

After much back and forth by email, I got together with Santa Mike, Chuck, Marshall, Doug and Matt for a poling run on the upper Ware River from So. Barre (42.3864 -72.097) to Hardwick Furnace (42.343812,-72.157774) – about 6 miles.  We had run the lower section from Hardwick Furnace to Church Street a couple of years ago.

Marshall takes a break
I met Mike and Chuck at McD’s  in Uxbridge for the ride out to the river.  I saw two accidents on the way to McD’s due to black ice, but the sanding trucks were out on the highways by the time we hit the road.  Its a good thing we got a little later start.

We arrived at the river at around 10:30 and ran the shuttle. With last week’s rain, the river had come up to a decent poling level – 3 feet, 50 CFS on the Barre gage. This section of the Ware is pretty with lots of twists and turns.  We stopped at Wheelwright Dam for lunch, and played for a little while in the quickwater below the dam. We arrived at the take out at Hardwick Furnace at around 4:00. 
 
Santa Mike

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lower Pawtuxet - November 16, 2013

Sign at the Broad Street Bridge
Much like the Blackstone, the Pawtuxet is a fascinating river that doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention.  Maybe it is because it runs along two major highways (Route 37 and Route I-95) through one of the most congested parts of the state.  Maybe it is because of the dams that can make paddling this river a challenge.  Maybe it is because of water quality issues - at least in the lower reaches of the river.  Whatever the reason, even I have been guilty of ignoring this hidden gem.  That changed yesterday when I paddled the Lower Pawtuxet with Jeff and Eric.

We decided to paddle the section from the Pontiac Canoe Launch at the Howard Conservation Area on Knight Street to Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in the Pawtuxet Village.  Pawtuxet Village was established in 1638 – just two years after Roger Williams founded Providence.  Settlers were attracted to this location for it’s sheltered harbor and for the waterpower available from the Pawtuxet Falls.  The Native American term "pawtuxet" means "little falls". 
Rhodes on the Pawtuxet at the put-in
The Pawtuxet River is formed by the confluence of North and South branches of the Pawtuxet, which merge in West Warwick.  From there it then runs approximately 12 miles until it empties into Narragansett Bay at the Pawtuxet Cove.  The last three miles of the river form the boundary between Cranston and Warwick. Access on the river has improved dramatically in recent years thanks to the great work of the Pawtuxet River Authority and Watershed Council.

We put in at the Pontiac Canoe Launch and paddled upstream to the old Pontiac Mill complex. At one time, this mill was owned Robert and Benjamin Knight who operated under the brand name “Fruit of the Loom”.  During the Civil War it was used to manufacture uniforms for Union soldiers.  In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln visited the site to dedicate a new addition.  Like many old mills, it has now fallen into disrepair.  The river was low – 3.8 feet, 140 cfs on the Cranston gage – but Jeff and I took advantage of the opportunity to do a little surfing below the Pontiac Mill Dam. 

Pontiac Mill Complex
As we headed downstream, the river follows Route I-95 for much of it course.  In spite of the traffic noise, this is a pretty section of river.  The banks are lined with trees, and wildlife is abundant.   On this trip we saw 5 deer, including a 6-point buck.  Birds were also plentiful including an owl, a falcon, and lots of ducks, geese and herons.

Evidence of the massive flood of 2010 is also evident along this section of the river. On March 31, 2010, the Pawtuxet River crested at 21 feet (11 feet over flood stage) causing the worst flooding in over 200 years.  Sections of Route I-95 were closed, and the Warwick Mall and many nearby home were inundated. On the river, downed trees and large piles of debris are evidence of the power of this massive flood. 

Broad Street Bridge
As we approached the take-out at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, we decided to continue downstream to the Broad Street Bridge and the site of the old Pawtuxet Falls Dam.  In the summer of 2011, the old Pawtuxet Falls Dam was demolished in one of the largest dam removal projects in the state.  The removal of the dam restored seven miles of free-flowing river habitat to one of Narragansett Bay’s largest tributaries. It is hoped that this will allow the restoration of native migratory fish to the river such as river herring and American shad.  Herring and shad are important part of the ecosystem, providing food for bluefish, striped bass, largemouth bass, herons, ospreys and many other predators—even harbor seals, which winter in the Bay.

Unfortunately, it was low tide when we arrived at the falls, and without cold-water gear, none of us felt comfortable running the 3-foot drop below the Broad Street Bridge.  Instead, we decided to head back to the take-out, and enjoy lunch at one of the near by restaurants in the village. Still, it was a great trip, and in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger – I’ll be back!

Surfing at the Pontiac Mills
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Turkey Paddle - November 9, 2013

I got my morning chores done, so I decided to join the RICKA flatwater crew for the Turkey Paddle on Wallum Lake.
Wallum is a 200-acre lake on the border of MA and RI.  The northern section lies in the Douglas State Forest in MA.  Much of the west shore in the southern half lies in the Buck ManagementArea in RI.  It is about 2 miles long and ¼ to ½ mile wide.
We put in at the boat ramp in Douglas (there is also a put in at the sourthern end in Burrillville that I have never used), and headed down the west side of the lake.  The day was cloudy and cool, but the winds were light.   After explong some of the coves, we turned around and headed back to the put in.
Most of the crew headed off for a turkey dinner.  I headed home for pot roast.
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Wood/Pawcatuck - Alton to Bradford - November 3, 2013

Saturday was sunny and warm.  Sunday was cloudy and cool.  Guess which day I got to go paddling.

After a slight mix up at the put-in location, we met at the Alton Dam around 10:15.  I was afraid I’d be doing this trip alone, but we ended up with four boats – me, Jim, Eric C. and Donna.  We put in below the Alton Dam and headed downstream.  It was cloudy and a little cool, but still nice.

On the Wood River below the Alton Dam the river twists and turns though a pretty woodland.  Things open up when the Wood River joins the Pawcatuck about a mile downstream.  We ran the broken dam on the right, and stopped for a quick snack at the Burlingame Canoe Campsites before heading down to Bradford.  It was another nice day.


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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Piscat Drawdown and BBQ - October 26, 2013

The annual Piscat drawdown and BBQ has become something of a ritual.  It's not a very difficult paddle, but the steak tips are sure good.

This was actually the first whitewater trip that I did after I attended the NHAMC Whitewater School back in 2005. It seemed much bigger then, and I was glad just to make it down the river without swimming.  It got me started on a great hobby, so it holds a special place in my heart.


We had the usual crew for this trip - me, Paul, Andy and Jeff, and one new addition - Mike.  We met at the dam at 9:30 and ran the shuttle to the new take out behind the County Center and Prison.  It was nice to skip the long flatwater section at the end.  Level was 5.5 feet on the Goffstown gage.

I don't think it was as crowded this year as it has been in the past. There were still a lot of people, but fewer that I knew.  There were definitely fewer canoes.  We put in around 10:00 and headed down stream.  There are a couple of short wave trains, and a couple of nice surf spots along the way.  The best is a great hole for side surfing just above the bridge.  It has become a bit of a tradition for me to swim in this hole.  It seems that I do it every year, and this year was no exception.  At least every year my swims get a little longer.  

I headed into the hole and worked my way over the the side surfing spot.  Once in, I got spun around, but managed to back paddle into a back surf.  I got spun again, this time with my paddle downstream, so I decided to do some side surfing.  It lasted a little while before I did my traditional swim.

We paddled the rest of the way down to the take out and got of the water around 12:30.  The rest of the crew went to the BBQ.  I went to Family Weekend at St. A's. Another good day. 


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Sunday, October 20, 2013

River Island Park to Manville - October 19, 2013

Frank below the Court Street Bridge
I wasn’t sure where to paddle this weekend, but when I saw Earl post a trip on the RICKA flatwater message board for early morning run from River Island Park to Manville, I had my answer. 

This would be the third weekend in a row that I stayed close to home and paddled the Blackstone River.  The foliage was nice, but maybe a little muted.  I enjoyed it just the same.  In a few weeks the leaves will drop and everything will look very different.

Earl approaching the take out
We ran the shuttle and got on the river around 9:30.  The level was low, but runnable – 1.5 feet, 300 cfs. on the Woonsocket gage.  It was boney below the Bernon Street Bridge and the power lines, but at least we didn’t have to get out of our boats. 

We paddled along at a leisurely pace below Hamlet Avenue Bridge and arrived at Manville around 11:00.  I was home by noon – nice day.

Fall colors at the takeout
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

River Bend Farm Canal/River Loop – October 12, 2013


The morning started off cloudy, but looked like it was going to clear up, so I decided to head up to Uxbridge to run the Canal/River loop at River Bend Farm. Unfortunately, the further north I drove, the cloudier it got.  It ended up being an overcast trip, but at least the drizzle held off until I got home.

I put in at the Hartford Avenue Bridge and paddled into Rice City Pond to check out the foliage – there wasn’t much to see.   The rain and strong wind last week took out much of the foliage.  I did find Frank and a friend out for a morning paddle.

With nothing to see in Rice City Pond, I crossed over into the river. Once again, the foliage was pretty sparse.  The level was 3.2 feet on the Northbridge gage – low but runnable. I had to get out of my boat at the end of the canal near the Rice City Dam, and quickly sank up to my hips in muck.  Fortunately, I was able to use my boat to get over to shore.

Hartford Avenue Bridge
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blackstone Gorge - Bridge Street to Rolling Dam - October 5, 2013

Rolling Dam
I had a couple hours to paddle, so I decided to check out the foliage in the Blackstone Gorge. It was cloudy and overcast, so it wasn't the best day for pictures.

I paddled from Bridge Street in Blackstone up to the Blackstone Gorge. This section of the river doesn't get paddled very often because its difficult to access, which is a shame because its a pretty section of river. The Branch River joins the Blackstone about half way up, and then you enter the Blackstone Gorge.

Blackstone Gorge
At a reasonable level, the Blackstone Gorge is a short class III run with a series of ledges followed by a rocky drop at the end. Unfortunately, the water is usually drawn off by a nearby hydroelectric plant, so it rarely runs at what I think is a reasonable level. When its big, its really big.

For what its worth,  Millville gage was about 3.8 feet and the Route 122 in Uxbridge gage was about 7 feet.  Here’s what the run looked like:



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My pictures
Millville gage
Route 122 in Uxbridge gage 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

West River - September 28, 2013

Waiting for my turn at a play spot
Had a good time yesterday with Paul on the upper section of the West River in Jamaica, VT.  The release was about 1,500 cfs.  Looking back, I’ve run it at that level before, but the waves seemed bigger than in the past.  I was constantly pulling over to empty my boat - I need to get a pump.

We did three runs that were mostly uneventful.  My only swim was about half way down Initiation. I started in the center, (should have started a little more to the right of the rocks in the center) and went sideways into the big hole and in the middle.  Fortunately, I was able to get my boat near the shore eddy on the right side where Paul was able to grab it.  It might have gone a long way otherwise. 

We used the shuttle at the Jamaica State Park for the first time, and it worked out great.  It’s a bit of a hike up to the top of Initiation, but not as bad as hiking down the dam. 

A pretty section of the West River
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Squam Lake

Another NH camping location, and another place to avoid on weekends during the summer – Squam Lake.  Put in is on Metcalf Road off Route 113 near the trailhead for East Rattlesnake. The parking and trailheads for West Rattlesnake and Morgan/Percival are just up the road. Squam Lakes Association also has parking and campsites on the other side of the lake.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lonsdale Marsh - September 8, 2013

I must have bad genes – or at least not "American" genes.  I tried watching the football game this afternoon, but it was too nice outside to be sitting in the house watching TV.  I decided to take my canoe out and paddle the Lonsdale Marsh.  It was a little windy but beautiful otherwise.  Why sit in the house?


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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Upper Wood River - September 7, 2013

It felt like Fall when I headed out this morning, but it turned out to be a great day.  It always helps to start the day off with a morning paddle.  I got together with Jim C, Jeff, Sharon and Jim S to paddle the upper Wood River from Route 165 in Exeter to the Wyoming Dam  (Route 138) in Richmond.  The river was at a nice level – 2 feet on the Hope Valley gage and 3 feet on the Arcadia gage.

We put in at about 9:30 and headed downstream.  The river starts out narrow as it twists and turns through the Arcadia State Forest.  It finally opens up as it approaches Frying Pan Pond, which was full of yellow daisies.  We portaged the Barberville Dam on the right (not enough water to run the small rapids on the left) and headed down to the Wyoming Dam. 

The trip was done by noon, and I was home around 1:30 to do some work around the house – can’t beat that.

Daisies blooming in Frying Pan Pond
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

RICKA Picnic - Goddard Memorial State Park - August 24, 2013


I went to the RICKA Picnic yesterday at the Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick.  We put in near the beach on Greenwich Bay, and paddled around the point into Greenwich Cove.  There was a good wind blowing off the bay kicking up some easy 1-foot rollers. This could have been avoided if we put in at the boat ramp on the cove, but I liked it.  Once we turned the corner into the cove I was surprised to see how many boats there were in the marina.  We paddled to the end of the cove and a short ways up the Green River before turning back around.  It was a nice trip, followed by a great BBQ.

The flatwater crew on greenwich Cove 
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Providence River – August 20, 2013

At the put-in
We had our last Blackstone Valley Paddle Club trip of the year on the Providence River in downtown Providence. 

We put in at the Bold Point access in East Providence and headed out across Providence Harbor towards the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. The water was calm with just a slight hint of some rolling waves. Century old pier pilings dot the surface. Rounding the corner we passed some tugboats before heading through the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier and into the Providence River. 

Riverwalk
I was surprised how developed the riverfront had become in this area. The lower section of the Providence River includes the Riverwalk. Passing through downtown Providence we will came to the confluence of the Woonasqatucket and Moshassuck Rivers. Bearing to the left we paddled up the Woonasqatucket River into the Basin at Waterplace Park. 

The tide was up, so a few people paddled further up the river to enjoy the sunset. I was content to enjoy the view from the Basin before heading back.


Fox Point Hurricane Barrier
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fife Brook Section of the Deerfield - August 17, 2013


Miami Beach
We did our annual RICKA Flatwater/Whitewater trip yesterday on the Fife Brook Section of the Deerfield. Release was at a little low – 850 cfs.

Since the turnout of flatwater paddlers was light, we decided to run the upper section.  Earl was nice enough to take a few flatwater paddlers down the lower section.  We had 7 boats – 3 canoes (Jim, John and me) and 4 kayaks (Bob, Tim, Pat and Byron) on the upper section.  The day was sunny and warm.

The trip itself was uneventfull.  We got delayed about a half an hour at the put-in waiting for the rafts and tubers to get started.  We had three successful runs at Zoar Gap, and one swim. 


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Monday, August 12, 2013

Round Island on Lake Winnipesaukee - August 10, 2013

This tandem kayak worked out great
Michelle and I got out for a short kayak trip at Round Island on Lake Winnipesaukee. Yes, you read that right – a KAYAK trip.  We were visiting our friend Bob on the island.  I left my canoe at home, but Bob had a tandem kayak that we could use.

Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in NH and the third largest in New England after Lake Champlain and Mousehead Lake.  It is approximately 21 miles long 9 miles wide covering 69 square miles.  Round Island is one of approximately 263 islands on Lake Winnipesaukee.  At 47 acres it is one of the larger islands on the lake and it has been in Bob's family for over 100 years.

There was a slight wind from the northeast blowing up 1-foot rollers, so Michelle and I stayed close to shore at the southern end of the island.  After a short paddle, we decided to take a break and enjoy the beach – good decision.

The "big" house on Round Island
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lackey Dam and the Mumford River - August 7, 2013

Jim and Rosco at the put in
We had another nice paddle with the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club above the Lackey Dam on the Mumford River in Sutton.

The Mumford River is an 18-mile river that arises from the Manchaug Pond in Sutton and Douglas, and flows east until it joins the Blackstone River in Uxbridge.  The many dams on the river provided waterpower to the mills that grew up along the river during the 19th century.

We put in just above Lackey Dam and paddled upstream into the Lackey Pond.  This time of year the pond is full of weeds, but it was still an easy paddle.  Once we found the channel, we paddled up the Mumford River and up beyond Route 146.  Fallen trees make this a little challenging, but you can actually make it quite a ways up the river. 

Hard to believe that it is already August – just two paddle club trips left.

The canoe guys
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Friday, August 2, 2013

Pier 5 - August 2, 2013

Putting in at Pier 5
It was poring rain when I woke up, but there was one more place that I wanted to paddle - Pier 5 or South Pier in Narragansett.

In the late 19th century, this section of Narragansett became a thriving resort community with 10 hotels and many Victorian and Shingle style cottages.  The Towers is all that remains of the old hotels, but many summer cottages - old and new - can still be seen along the shore.

By the time I got down to the pier the rain had stopped, but there was still a strong wind blowing.  I paddled out into the 1 to 2 foot rollers.  It was easy paddling, but I knew that the trip back against the waves and into the wind would be a slog, so I stopped at the Towers and bobbed in the waves for a while to enjoy the view before heading back.

The Towers
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sunrise at Black Point - August 1, 2013

Pink sunrise
This morning, I traded my water shoes for my hiking shoes and went to catch the sunrise at Black Point.

I arrived just before sunrise and began my trek north along the shore.  Most of the southern coast of Narragansett is lined with a pretty pink granite known locally as Narragansett Pier granite.  Boulders of various sizes line the shore.  

I met a couple of fishermen along the way, but otherwise the morning was quiet.  About a 1/2 mile up the coast, I got a great view of the formal gardens and gatehouse at the Dunmere.  Dunmere was built in 1883 for Robert Dun of Dun & Bradstreet, and was one of several large estates that lined the coast along Ocean Road.  I hiked along the rocks for about a mile to Newton Avenue before walking back down Ocean Road to my car.


A little later it was a yellow sunrise
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Narrow River - July 31, 2013

Pettaquamscutt Cove
The sun rose bright and clear as I headed out to paddle the Narrow River and Pettaquamscutt Cove.

It was low tide as I put in at the Sprague Bridge and headed up the Narrow River into the Pettaquamscutt Cove.  The osprey were in their nest at the bridge, and other birds were everywhere - egrets, herons, cormorants, terns, and of course seagulls.  Like Point Judith Pond, this section of the Narrow River is a tidal estuary, and Pettaquamscutt Cove is also a National Wildlife Refuge.  At low tide, all the birds were looking for breakfast.

I then paddled down the Narrow River to the Narrows - the rocky outcropping where the Narrow River meets the sea.  It looked like it would be easy to break through the 1 to 2 foot waves breaking at the shore, but instead I decided to check out the view from the rocks.  The day was clear, and you could see all the way down the coast to the Point Judith Light.

The Narrows
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Lower Pettaquamscutt River and Cove from the Narrow River Preservation Association
Upper Pettaquamscutt River and Cove from the Narrow River Preservation Association