Annual Meeting 2006

The Annual GUPACA meeting was held at the Gstalder’s house on Monday, August 14, starting at 4:00PM.

Herb Gstalder opened the meeting and introduced the GUPACA board members:
                Tina Browne
                Barbara Gstalder
                Thelma Klein
                John Partridge
                Joan Shapiro
                Kathryn Weill
                Aggie Wolf.

Herb asked that anyone interested in joining the GUPACA board contact him or another board member.

News And Business

Treasurer’s Report

Kathryn Weill reported in her capacity as Treasurer that the balance in the GUPACA bank account with BankNorth in Wellfleet is $2,677.79. As the balance is adequate for GUPACA expenses, dues will be waived this year.


On behalf of the board, Herb reiterated for the members that GUPACA’s focus is on the water quality in the Gull Pond chain of ponds. Our interests in specific are:
* Purity of water in the ponds
* Plant growth in the ponds
* Well water quality.
GUPACA will involve itself in local political issues only as affects these topics.

Young Scholars Fund

Tina Browne reported that the Young Scholars Fund of GUPACA had made a $300 grant to the Wellfleet Elementary School last year that allowed the teachers to add environmentally educational projects. The GUPACA board decided to make a grant of $300 this year plus any funds submitted by the members earmarked for the Young Scholars Fund. Subsequent to the meeting Aggie Wolf donated $200 in memory of her late husband, Al. Consequently, GUPACA will make a $500 grant to the Wellfleet Elementary School this year.

Well Water Tests

All members were urged to have their well water tested again this year and to send a copy of the results to GUPACA. The results will be included in a data base that GUPACA is building. Test bottles were provided at the meeting. Herb also asked that members with results from prior years send a copy of the results to GUPACA. Older results will provide an important baseline to compare with current results. All data will be posted on the GUPACA website: Printed copies may also be obtained by sending a request to GUPACA.

Herring River Restoration Project

After many years of study and discussion, it now appears that the project will be approved. Of interest to GUPACA is the definitive conclusion that the project will not affect the Gull Pond chain of ponds. Peter Watts, Chairman of the Herring River Stakeholder Committee, confirmed from the audience that the affect of the restoration will end at that Route 6 conduit. Core samples from Gull Pond show that salt water has never flowed into the ponds, even before any man-made obstructions such as dikes or roads.

Jack’s Boat Rental Contract

In the spring of 2006 Jack’s contract was unanimously renewed by the Board of Selectmen for an additional five years.

Beach Administrator

Steve Larsen, the new Beach Administrator, was introduced from the audience. Steve replaced Suzanne Grout Thomas, who moved on to Director of Wellfleet Council on Aging. Before leaving, Suzanne wrote a management plan for Gull Pond, which may also be read on the GUPACA website.


Dr. Stephen Smith, Plant Ecologist, Cape Cod National Seashore

Stephen reported on his work on the role of nitrogen and phosphorus in algae growth in the freshwater ponds in the National Seashore, including the Gull Pond chain. Stephen’s article on this work was published in Hydrobiologia, a peer-reviewed international journal.

Stephen and his team closely monitored algae responses to controlled nutrient additions to a 2% agar/nutrient material contained in tubes placed in the ponds. Contrary to normal thought and their expectations, nitrogen rather than phosphorus was the primary limiting nutrient for algae growth. In the tests, the addition of phosphorus alone had no significant affect on algae growth, whereas the addition of nitrogen alone or with phosphorus had a strong affect. The question of the threshold level of nitrogen that elicits a response still needs to be studied.

In response to questions from the audience, Stephen cited rain, run-off and septic leachate as possible sources of nitrogen for the ponds. This is important for GUPACA members as it highlights the need to reduce or eliminate the use of fertilizers and update all septic systems and maintain them in good order.

Stephen again clarified that most of the plants growing in the ponds are indigenous plants, not weeds. The appearance of exotic (or non-indigenous) plants and algae growth are concerns.

Ed Eichner, Water Resource Scientist/Hydrologist. Cape Cod Commission

Ed began by presenting an overview of the ponds on Cape Cod. The PALS Program (Ponds and Lakes Stewards) gathered data on 190 ponds and published the Cape Cod Pond Atlas in 2001. There are more than 1000 ponds on the Cape, 60% of which are less than an acre. Eighty percent of the ponds have some problem. Thirty percent have a problem that is visible, eg algae growth or lowered transparency.

Ed then told the group about the status of Long Pond in Brewster and Harwich. This is the largest pond on the Cape, with 740 acres. The pond has algae blooms and low oxygen at the bottom during the summer stratification that has led to fish kills. The Cape Cod Commission obtained a state grant six years ago to study what could be done to remediate the pond and is applying for a new grant. Harwich and Brewster have also been successful in applying to the state for funds for a remediation project and are hoping for an additional state grant to raise the total to $300,000 to $400,000. Methods considered include aeration and/or the addition of aluminum salt that bonds with phosphorus to form a barrier across the bottom of the pond. Although the towns have been successful in obtaining state funds they still need to agree on the best method and then obtain the requisite state permits. For more information, see the association’s website at

In the general discussion that followed, Ed emphasized the need to study data on the ponds. He said the National Seashore has collected valuable data on the ponds that needs to be put together with nutrient assessments from homes and other activities in the whole watershed area. Ideally we should be able to look back 100 years to review the activities that have affected the ponds. Ed explained that nitrogen moves with water at a rate of one foot per day in the watershed. Phosphorus is held by iron in the ground and takes 90 years to travel 300 feet. However, once phosphorus reaches the ponds it remains forever whereas nitrogen denitrifies in the water. Both speakers cited the need for effective buffer zones for all bodies of water. In this regard, it was specifically noted that the town beach on Gull Pond has no buffer zone with consequent run-off directly into the pond.

After the speeches and discussion, Herb Gstalder closed the meeting and invited all to remain for a social period.

Annual Meeting 2005

The annual GUPACA meeting was held at the Gstalders’ house on Monday, August 15, 2005. Herb Gstalder opened the meeting by reporting that he had been elected by the GUPACA board to succeed Dorothy Altman as President. The members gave Dorothy a round of applause in recognition of excellent service as President. Herb then turned to the agenda.

Questionnaire Results

The Board of GUPACA received 16 responses to the questionnaire on issues of importance to the members. Responders were asked to rank the issues in importance, with five being the most important. The responses in the order of average importance were:
4.6 Protection of wells and water aquifers;
3.6 Weed control in Gull Pond and adjacent ponds;
3.4 Use of the sluiceway;
3.2 Identification of invasive plant and animal, fish species, preservation of natural flora and fauna;
2.8 Maintenance of the dirt roads around Gull Pond and Back Woods;
2.5 Responsiveness of local police, and/or National Seashore Rangers.

Well Water Quality

Members took all the well water sampling bottles that were available at the meeting. Members agreed to send the results of their well water reports to GUPACA by mailing them to GUPACA, P. O. Box 49, Wellfleet, MA 02663 or by e-mailing them to The results, including the address of the well site, will be posted on the GUPACA website. An e-mail notification will be sent to all members when this information is available in the fall.

The GUPACA Memorial Fund For Young Scholars

Tina Browne reported that she met with the principal of the Wellfleet Elementary School to discuss how potential projects to be supported by the fund can be identified in the upcoming school year. GUPACA will donate $300.00 as seed money for the projects. The principal was very excited at the prospect of having funds available for ecological projects. She will discuss this with the relevant teachers when school begins and will be in contact with Tina. Checks for donations to the Fund should be made out to either Town of Wellfleet, WES or to GUPACA with a note that the donastion is to be allocated to the Memorial Fund.

Phosphate-Free Detergent

Catherine Weill brought to the meeting a box of ECOVER, a phosphate free dishwashing machine detergent. This is available at theWellfleet Market.

National Seashore Presentations

Evan Gwilliam, Aquatic Hydrologist
Evan reported on the Park’s inventory monitoring program for the fresh water ponds, including Gull Pond. The purpose of the program is to identify and monitor status and trends in ecosystem functions, with the goal of stopping problems before they begin. In studying Gull Pond they are developing a protocol for monitoring all ponds to determine the trophic status with a range from oligotrophic (low nutrients) to eutrophic (high nutrients). They are particularly interested impacts through human activity that change the status of the ponds.

The program looks at the water column profile and the chemical constituents of the water. The water column is monitored from the surface to the bottom of the ponds for the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, temperature variations and nutrients. Measurements are not taken during the winter because of the reduced activity at low water temperature.

Stephen Smith, Vegetative Ecologist
Stephen reported on the inventory and monitoring program of two facets of plant growth in the ponds: emergent and submerged macrophytes and floating and attached algae. In 1995 the Park carried out a study of five ponds, including Gull Pond, to inventory the plant species and abundance in the ponds and to investigate the relationships between pond trophic status and plant growth. In carrying out the study five transects were placed along 5 line gradients in each pond. The park is re-surveying the five ponds this year and will prepare a report that will provide comparative data over a ten-year period. The report should be available in the spring of 2006. (GUPACA will be given a copy. We will notify the members, and put the report up on the GUPACA website.)

Stephen said that he had been receiving anecdotal evidence of increased algae growth in the ponds. Algae respond to an increase in the nutrients that are in short supply in the water. It was previously thought that increased phosphorus was the key determinant of algae growth. The park carried out a test of slow-release of phosphorus and nitrogen within small containers that contained a disk on which algae could grow. Preliminary results indicate that increased nitrogen is much more important than had previously been thought. In response to a question, Stephen said that the greatest sources of nitrogen are septic systems, the atmosphere and fertilizers. Nitrogen is much more mobile than phosphorus and travels through the ground more easily. However, nitrogen also de-nitrifies whereas phosphorus remains permanently. In discussion from the members, the question was raised whether and to what extent the septic system at the town beach was a source of nitrogen in the pond.

Stephen explained that the thin-leafed plant, lobelia dortmanna, that is prevalent along the eastern shore of Gull Pond, is normally associated with pristine, oligotrophic ponds. The broad-leafed pantederia cordata that are appearing with more frequency are an indication of eutrophic ponds. The Gull pond chain of ponds have generally been about 1 degree ph more acidic than the norm for ponds. Increased acidity reduces plant growth.

In response to questions from the members, Stephen and Gwilliam both expressed their reservations on residents pulling or cutting weeds, as did Helen Miranda Wilson. It was pointed out that there are no invasive plant species in the pond. Stephen requested that members take a photo of the pond in front of their property from the same spot at the same time each year and send a copy of the photo to him. Digital photos can be mailed to Stephen at Prints can be mailed to him at:

Stephen M. Smith, Ph.D.
Plant Ecologist
National Park Service,
Cape Cod National Seashore
99 Marconi Site Road,
Wellfleet, MA 02667

Suzanne Thomas mentioned the continued heavy use of the sluiceway with the consequent damage to the area. Suzanne expressed her desire that the Wellfleet Selectmen vote to remove the parking spaces from the Sluiceway. Jack’s Boat Rental license is up for renewal in December and there is ongoing discussion of whether the franchise should not be put out to lease again. There is concern whether this is an appropriate use of the limited space at the town beach. Moreover, half the boat traffic at the sluiceway originates with boats from Jacks.

Katherine Weill, as Treasurer, reported that the GUPACA bank balance is $2356.80.

The annual meeting concluded and was followed by a social hour.

Members who were not able to attend and have not yet sent in their dues of $10.00 per family or $5.00 per individual may send their dues to: GUPACA. P. O. Box 49, Wellfleet, MA 02667. If members have adult children who are using their homes, please suggest that they send their e-mail and mail address to GUPACA so we can add them to the mailing list. It is important for all of us to spark this next generation’s interest in GUPACA.*Meeting Summaries contain excerpts from meeting minutes






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