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WRWA sponsors or participates in a variety of events during the year. Many of these events offer opportunities for volunteers to get involved with watershed issues. The listing below includes some specifics for 2005 events.
Winter Walk at Westfield Reservoir: Tucked into the hills of Montgomery is a pretty little reservoir. Around it winds a small trail through hardwood and conifer forests. Join Tom and Nancy Condon on Sunday, January 16 as they explore this property on an outing with Springfield's Naturalists' Club. We'll search for signs of resident animals and learn how they survive this season. The trail is level and about one mile. Dress for the weather. Bring lunch, water and a pair of binoculars. Meet at the Westfield High School on Montgomery Road at 10:00 a.m. We should be back by about 2:00 p.m. Please call 413-564-0895 to register, so if bad weather forces cancellation we can contact you.
Connecticut River Migratory Fish Restoration Program - Westfield River: On Thursday, January 27 at 7:30 p.m. Janice Rowan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Connecticut River Coordinator, will talk about the Connecticut River Migratory Fish Restoration Program. The slide presentation, to be given in the Savignano Auditorium A (Wilson Hall) on the campus of Westfield State College, will focus on Program activities and impacts in the Westfield River. One of the most visible components of the Program has been the effort to reintroduce Atlantic Salmon into the Connecticut River Watershed, with upwards of a million salmon fry having been stocked in the Westfield River and its tributaries each spring over the past decade. Restoration work has benefited a variety of other species as well, and Jan is a dedicated and energetic proponent of all those efforts.
Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program (ASERP): WRWA again provided chillers and tanks at the South Middle School in Westfield, the Memorial Elementary School in West Springfield, the Gateway Regional Middle School in Huntington, and the Powder Mill Middle School in Southwick during the Spring of 2005. About 300 salmon eggs were delivered to each site in January. Students monitored the hatching of the eggs and cared for the fry until they were stocked in local streams in May or June. Thanks to Karin and Michael Vorwerk, Gabe Khatchadourian, Mark Damon, Henry Warchol, Leon Pothier and Mike Young, who assisted with the school's fry releases.
Falling Waters: As the snows of winter melt away, the rivers rise in a torrent. Join Tom and Nancy Condon and the Naturalists' Club on Saturday, March 26 to explore a few of the prettier streams throughout the Westfield River watershed. We'll visit some well-known and little-known waterfalls and share in their turbulent beauty. This is mostly a driving tour with stops for short walks to scenic locations. Dress for the weather. Bring lunch, water and a camera if you wish. Meet at the Commuter Parking Lot at Westfield State College at 9:00 a.m. We should be back by about 3:00 p.m. Please call 413-564-0895 to register, so if bad weather forces cancellation we can contact you.
2005 Westfield River Symposium: More than 200 people attended the 11th annual Westfield River Symposium on Saturday, April 2 at Westfield State College. Indoor sessions during the morning, centered on the theme of "River + Land + People: Balancing the Equation". John Olver, U.S. Representative for this area, and a strong proponent for the environment, gave the keynote address. Speakers included Ed Klekowski (UMass Biology Dept, who showed his film about the 1936 floods on the Connecticut and led a discussion), Dick Little (retired from GCC, who spoke on the geologic history of the area), Alison Bowden (from the Nature Conservancy, who spoke on TNC's stream continuity project in the Westfield Watershed), Jim Lyons (Town Engineer for West Springfield, who showed a film from the EPA and discussed stormwater management), and Robert Brown (Professor Emeritus of History at Westfield State, who spoke on the role of the river in Westfield's development). Jack Hayward and Mark St. Jean also unveiled their new video recalling the 1955 floods in Westfield! Tom Wisnauskas, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will led an afternoon field trip to the flood control dams above Huntington, but the tour of some of the newly added wild & scenic river segments was cancelled because of rain. The full program is archived in the symposium section of the website. Thanks to this year's Symposium Committee of Mark Damon, Carl Grobe, Kathy Meyer, Bob Thompson and Mike Young, who organized the event.
Screening of "Five Feet and Rising: the Flood of '55": This video, which was premiered at the 2005 River Symposium on April 2, was created by Jack Hayward and Mark St. Jean and features accounts of the flooding of August, 1955 in the Westfield area. It was also shown at the Westfield Athenauem on Monday, April 25 at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Contact Kathy Meyer (568-4252) for more information.
Birding at Stanley Park: The Allen Bird Club is hosting a half-day birding walk in Stanley Park on Saturday, April 30 that's free and open to the public. This walk will focus on warblers, thrushes, and vireos and will be led by John Hutchinson (562-3976). Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the tennis courts in Stanley Park, off Western Avenue in Westfield (across from the new WSC Athletic Facility).
Atlantic Salmon Fry Stocking: WRWA will again be providing volunteers to assist the MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife with stocking salmon fry in the Westfield Watershed. This is a great way to support Atlantic Salmon restoration, and a chance to really get your feet wet in the Watershed! WRWA is specifically looking for volunteers for Saturdays, April 16 and April 30, but volunteers are also needed on some weekdays. Check the stocking schedule for local stocking dates and instructions on where to meet and what to bring. Contact Henry Warchol (562-3467) with questions.
Birding at Robinson State Park: The Allen Bird Club is hosting a half-day birding walk in Robinson State Park (Agawam) on Sunday, May 8 that's free and open to the public. This walk will focus on warblers, tanagers and thrushes and will be led by John Hutchinson (562-3976). Meet at 7:30 a.m. on Colemore St. opposite the North St. entrance to the park.
M-M Trail Hike : Hike from Bush Notch to US 202 on Sunday, May 8. A repeat to check two vernal pools for the progress of fairy shrimp and other life forms that abound in these depressions (AMC hike rating: C-3-C). Meet at 9:30 a.m. in back of the Friendly's Restaurant at Exit 3 (Westfield) of the MassPike. Contact Henry Warchol (562-3467) for more information.
Screening of "Five Feet and Rising: the Flood of '55": This video, which was premiered at the 2005 River Symposium on April 2, was created by Jack Hayward and Mark St. Jean and features accounts of the flooding of August, 1955 in the Westfield area. It will be shown at the Westfield Athenauem on Wednesday, May 11 at 5:30 p.m. and again at 7:00 p.m. There will be an opportunity to talk about the flooding and the film with Jack Hayward following each screening. This event is free and open to the public. Contact Kathy Meyer (568-4252) for more information.
Stanley Park Wildflower Stroll : Is it a Jack-in-the-Pulpit or a Jill? Did you know that this species of flower can change sex from year to year? Do you know which gender takes more energy? Come find out during an enlightening springtime stroll to reveal the wildflowers along the trails at Stanley Park in Westfield on Sunday, May 15. Distance covered will be minimal since we will be stopping frequently. Brush up not only on identification of the flowers we see, but learn something of the origin of their names, medicinal purposes or interesting pollination strategies. There is more to a wildflower than meets the eye! Wear sturdy walking shoes. Bring wildflower guide, binoculars, and/or hand-lens if you wish. Heavy rain cancels. Leaders: Nancy & Tom Condon (413-564-0895) Registration: Please call Nancy or Tom to sign-up Meeting Place/Time: Stanley Park, near Ed Piela Wildflower Garden at 9:00 a.m. (program ends around 12:00 p.m.).
Annual Membership Meeting and Dinner: This year's annual membership meeting and dinner was held on Thursday, May 19 at the School Street Bistro in Westfield. About 45 members and guests attended the event, at which Mark Noonan was presented with this year's Waite Award. Dave Pardoe, a longtime member of the WRWA Board of Directors who recently resigned, was also honored at the dinner for his many contributions to the watershed. Following dinner, Glenn Corbiere of Chester showed his beautiful photos of dragonflies and damselflies and talked about the lives of these graceful and fascinating insects. You can see some of Glenn's photos at his website: www.dragonhunter.net.
Majestic Westfield River Fly Fishing Derby: The second annual Fly Fishing Derby will be held on Sunday, May 22. Contact Gabe Khatchadourian at 568-3005 for more information.
Trash in the Turnouts: Kathy Meyer again coordinated weekly cleanups of the Rt. 20 turnouts in Russell and Huntington during the summer months, from May 31 to September 6 (Monday mornings). Thanks to Susan MacIntosh, Ron Lucassen and Mike Young for helping her out.
Wild & Scenic Celebration: Join the Westfield River Wild & Scenic Advisory Committee on Saturday, June 4 to celebrate the Westfield River. Music, games, hikes, and other family activities will highlight the remarkable, scenic, geologic, recreational, historical and ecological values of the Westfield River Watershed. The event, coinciding with National Trails Day and Rivers' Month, begins with morning hikes throughout the watershed and culminates along the banks of the river for an afternoon of activities. Among the morning walks will be an exploration of migratory song birds in the upper watershed with TNC's Wayne Klockner and Bill Toomey, and a hike to the Keystone Arch Bridges led by Dave Pierce. Afternoon events will take place at Gardner State Park in Huntington. For more information contact Carrie Banks (413-268-3129).
Springtime M-M Trail Hike (section 3): This seldom-used trail section takes us from the Pioneer Valley Rod & Gun Club in Westfield to the Mass Pike in the span of about 3 miles. It will be a "yo-yo" hike, in which we will "about-face" for our return trip, for a total hike length of about 6 miles. Initially, we will walk along the edge of huge Lane Quarry, then stroll beneath a grove of protective Eastern Hemlock, and also encounter beautiful sentinels of red oak in a handsome hardwood forest. The trail is not well maintained, so expect to hurdle fallen trees and encounter rocks and logs hidden under leaves on the trail, so ankle-supporting footwear is necessary. Join us on Sunday, June 5 for this little known section of trail with water, a lunch, binoculars, and a spirit of adventure. Heavy rain cancels. Leaders: Nancy & Tom Condon. Registration: Please call Nancy or Tom to sign-up (413-564-0895) Meeting Place/Time: Westfield Wal-Mart parking lot - towards the back at 9:00 a.m. (return by about 2:00 p.m.).
West Springfield Fish Ladder Open House: Several hundred people visited the Fish Ladder during the annual open house, which was held on Sunday, June 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was a spectacular day, with a 36-inch salmon having been trapped early in the morning, and a second entering the facility in the early afternoon. Lots of shad and sea lamprey were also seen. Thanks to Gabe Khatchadourian who organized the event, and to Mark Damon, Kathy Meyer, Joan Pearsons, Leon Pothier, Henry Warchol and Mike Young who volunteered time to act as "tour guides".
Canoe Cruise: Our annual canoe cruise from Westfield to Robinson State Park will take place on Sunday, June 12. Registration will be from noon to 1 p.m. at the river access just 0.1 miles east (off Meadow Street) of the south end of the Great River Bridge (Rts. 10 & 202) in the center of Westfield. The event is free to WRWA members, or $5/person for non-members (to cover the cost of insurance). Contact Mike Vorwerk at 413-667-5152 for more information.
Storm Drain Stenciling: WRWA volunteers continued our successful storm drain stenciling program of last summer, stenciling more than 175 drains and distributing nearly 1000 educational flyers in Westfield. The work involved painting the message "Dump No Waste - Drains to River" next to storm drain inlets. Thanks to Joan Pearsons (736-5208) and Kathy Meyer for organizing this year's program, to MA Riverways for providing grant support for the project, and to Diane Crowell, Mark Damon, Carl Grobe, Gabe Khatchadourian, Kathy Meyer, Joan Pearsons, Bill Rose, Henry Warchol and Mike Young for helping with the work.
Screening of "Five Feeting & Rising - the Flood of '55": About 150 people attended the screening of this half-hour video documenting the flooding of the Westfield River in August, 1955, which was shown at Westfield State College in Wilson Hall's Savignano Auditorium on Thursday, August 18 at 7:30 p.m., the 50th anniversary of the flooding. The screening was followed by a short talk by Mike Boulanger, Emergency Management Director for the City of Westfield.
DSI Fishway Staffing: Henry Warchol (562-3467) again organized a cadre of volunteers from WRWA, Trout Unlimited and the Appalachian Mountain Club to help monitor the passage of fish and eels upstream past West Springfield during the spring and fall. Thanks to those dependable volunteers for all their hard work: Diane Crowell, Thomas Eaton, Stan Gula, Leon Pothier, Tom Bertrand, John Sinton, Henry Warchol, and Bill Rose.
"Five Feeting & Rising - the Flood of '55" on WGBY: This half-hour video documenting the flooding of the Westfield River in August, 1955 was aired on Springfield's PBS station (Ch. 57) on Thursday, September 8 at 9:00 p.m.
Source to Sea River Clean Up : Approximately 40 volunteers attended our annual river cleanup of the banks of the Westfield River on Saturday, October 1 from 9:00 AM to 1:00PM. Eight sites, ranging from West Springfield to Huntington were targeted. This year's event was held in conjunction with the "Source to Sea" cleanup along the Connecticut River and its tributaries throughout New England. Meet at the Westfield River Access just north of Meadow St. at the south end of the Rt. 10/202 bridge in the center of Westfield. Wear old clothes and bring gloves if you have them. Thanks to Mark Damon (572-9991, who organized this year's clean up.
"Westfield and the River - Hazards and Opportunities": Robert Brown, Professor Emeritus from the History Department at Westfield State College, will talk about the history of Westfield and its river on Thursday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m. in the Rand Gallery of the Westfield Athenaeum. Dr. Brown has provided the following brief outline of the talk: American development depended upon rivers and streams to provide both highways to the interior and power for the proto-industrial economy. The history of Westfield was no different. Original settlement at the conflux of the Westfield and Little Rivers was followed in 1668 by the first water-powered mill. In 1697 the first dam and mill was placed on the Westfield River and by ten years later, there were water powered mills on every stream in the Westfield Valley. The river, however, was also a source of danger. At least 20 major floods struck the community in the last 300 years with those of 1868, 1879, 1927, 1936, 1938 and 1955 doing the most damage. Westfield's watershed continues to offer both promise and threat in the 21st century.
Stream Connectivity Surveys: This is an ongoing project, carried out in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and the Massachusetts Riverways program. We're hoping to complete our survey of more than 1000 bridges and culverts that cross the Westfield River and its tributaries - to assess those structures' impact on the ability of fish and other wildlife to move along stream corridors. Surveying is usually done in teams of two and involves making measurements of structures, evaluating conditions in the vicinity of the structures, and taking photographs. This work will be continuing throughout the summer and fall, roughly from June to October. If you're interested in helping out, contact Mike Young (413-572-5741).
Shatterack Mountain Hike: Join Tom & Nancy Condon on Sunday, November 6 for this hike up Shatterack Mountain, which rises high above the village of Russell. The views from the peak offer spectacular vistas of the Westfield River and the surrounding mountains. A short, but steep, descent will bring us to Shatterack Brook which we will trace back to near its source on the mountain. Stopping along the trail, we will discuss the signs of reforestation from recent fire, fall tree identification, and the strategies of wildlife as they prepare for the coming winter. This hike is for experienced hikers. In places the going can be rough. Although we will travel at a casual pace, there will be times when significant elevation is gained and lost in a short distance. Please wear appropriate footwear, dress for the weather, pack a lunch, and carry plenty of water. Meet at the Westfield State College Commuter Parking Lot entrance off Western Ave. at 9:00 a.m. and expect to return by about 2:00 p.m. Please call 413-564-0895 to register, so if bad weather forces cancellation you can be contacted.
"Atlantic Salmon in New England: status, conservation and research" : Stephen McCormick, a USGS researcher at the Conte Anadramous Fish Research Center in Turner's Falls and an Adjunct Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst spoke to about 40 attendees on Thursday, November 17 at 7:00 p.m. in Scanlon Auditorium C at Westfield State College. Dr. McCormick has provided the following brief outline of his talk: Atlantic salmon were once highly abundant in all of the large rivers of New England. In the Connecticut river and other rivers of southern New England, dam construction and habitat loss were responsible for their extirpation in the mid-1800's. Restoration efforts begun thirty years ago have met with limited success. In downeast Maine, Atlantic salmon were abundant until the mid-1970's when populations began to decline, resulting in their listing as an endangered species in 2000. In this talk I will review the status of Atlantic salmon in New England and describe current restoration and conservation efforts. I will also present some of our research on the impacts of dams, acid rain and pollution on Atlantic salmon, focusing on the downstream migratory (smolt) stage.