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 2009 events.
Maple Corner Farm X-C Skiing: Join Tom and Nancy Condon for a day of cross-country skiing on Sunday, February 22. Maple Corner Farm in Granville rents skis or you can bring your own. They groom many miles of trails of varying degrees of difficulty. This trip will have a natural history focus and a route will be chosen based on the skill levels of the participants and the snow conditions at the time. Please call 413-564-0895 to register so that you can be notified if the trip is canceled by weather conditions.
Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program (ASERP): WRWA is again providing chillers and tanks at the North and South Middle Schools and Abner Gibbs Elementary in Westfield, the Powder Mill Middle School in Southwick, Fausey Elementary in West Springfield, and Chester Elementary during the Spring of 2009. We've also added a system at St. Mary's Elementary in Westfield and are assisting with the program at the Agawam High School. About 300 salmon eggs will be delivered to each site in February. Students monitor the hatching of the eggs and care for the fry until they are stocked in local streams in May. Thanks to Petco for providing a substantial discount on the new tanks and supplies for St. Mary's Elementary and the Agawam High School, and to WalMart and Home Depot of Westfield for donating some accessories for the new systems.
2009 Westfield River Symposium: The 15th annual Westfield River Symposium, with the theme of "Have Fun in Your Watershed", was held on Saturday, March 28 in the Scanlon Banquet Hall at Westfield State College. Approximately 200 people attended the morning sessions and about 20 exhibitors set up displays. Thanks to all the speakers, exhibitors, and field trip leaders who made the event a success. The full program gives all the details.
Atlantic Salmon Stocking: We assisted MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife personnel with stocking of about a million salmon fry in the Westfield River and its tributaries on two Saturdays in April. On Saturday, April 11 about 25 people met at the Commuter Parking Lot at Westfield State College, with stocking done along Munn and Dickenson Brooks in Granville and Southwick. On Saturday, April 25 about 25 people met in the parking lot at the Gateway Regional High School in Huntington, with stocking along the Middle Branch of the Westfield River above the Littleville Reservoir. Stocking in other areas takes place throughout April and early May: check the complete schedule if you're interested in helping out during the week.
Fly-Fishing Clinic: Our annual fly-fishing clinic returned to the turnout off Rt. 20 in Huntington on Saturday, May 16, and offered a chance to learn fly-tying and fishing techniques, with some stream-related activities for kids.
Annual Dinner Meeting: Our annual dinner meeting was held on Thursday, May 21 at the School Street Bistro in Westfield. Invitations were mailed out to the membership in early May. The evening began with a social hour at 5:30, followed by dinner at 6:30, and a brief business meeting at 7:30. The Waite Award was given to J. Kenneth Taylor, for his more than 40 years of service on the Westfield Conservation Commission and WRWA's Board of Directors. The speaker was Karen Leigh, the Westfield Conservation Coordinator, who talked about non-point source pollution. Cost of the evening is $30. Please join us to help elect the 2009-10 WRWA Board, secretary, and treasurer.
Bird & Flower Hike at Noble View: Spring is a wonderful time to get out and hike in the woods. Join us on Sunday, May 24 as we hike some back trails at the AMC property in Russell. We'll be going up & down some hills toward the Little River, so the hike may be strenuous at times. On our way, we will be looking for and learning about spring wildflowers. Learn of their special properties and the histories and folklore surrounding them. Bring your binoculars along to enjoy some of the woodland birds we'll see and hear. Our hike will take us past some big beautiful hemlock stands not accessable to loggers. This hike is sure to leave you invigorated and refreshed. Contact Tom Condon at 564-0895 to register for the hike. Meet at the Noble View Parking Area just off South Quarter Rd. in Russell at 9:00 a.m.; bring a lunch as we'll be finishing up by 2:00 p.m.
Storm Drain Labeling: About 15 people showed up to glue storm drain labels to the curbing or pavement in the downtown Westfield area on Saturday, May 30. The labels will help to make residents aware that the storm drains lead directly to the river and should not be used to dispose of motor oil or other hazardous substances. Volunteers are needed! Meet at the Westfield City Hall parking lot at 59 Court St. at 8:30 a.m. Bring a whisk broom for cleaning off the pavement we'll provide the markers and glue. Contact Tracy Adamski (413-210-8693) for more information.
West Springfield Fish Ladder Open House: Approximately 300 people visited the West Springfield Fish Ladder on Sunday, Jun 7 from 10-3. Parking was available in the former Southworth Paper Co. parking lot at 150 Front St. in West Springfield. Guides directed visitors from the parking area to a half-mile long path leading to the dam where the fishway is located, and explained the workings of the fishway. The weather was great this year, and there was a young-adult salmon (18-inches) that had been trapped the day before the first salmon of the season! Free of charge and open to the general public. Thanks to Bill Rose (413-786-0195) and Henry Warchol (413-562-3467) for organizing the event, and to Phil Sousa, Kathy Meyer, Ron Lucassen, Mark Damon, and Mike Young for assisting at the open house.
Rivers Month PR Event: Becky Smith, of Clean Water Action, will present a check for $20,000 to WRWA. These funds are the result of a court settlement and will be used for environmental action in the Westfield Watershed. The presentation will begin at 11:15 on Saturday, Jun 13 (rain or shine!) at the canoe access for the Westfield River just off Meadow Street 0.1 miles east of the Great River Bridge in Westfeld (where Rt. 10/202 cross the river). These funds will allow us to accomplish a variety of projects and the presentation is a fitting way to celebrate National Rivers Month this June! The canoe cruise (see below) will follow the presentation.
Canoe Cruise: About 35 people participated in our annual canoe cruise from Westfield to Robinson State Park in Agawam on Saturday, Jun 13. Registration for the canoe cruise will ran from 11:00 to 12:00, with launch taking place at noon from the put-in just east of the Great River Bridge project off Meadow Street in Westfield (pending the availability of access to that site; check back here for details as the time approaches). The cost for the cruise was $7/person, $20/family, which covered the cost of insurance and snacks at the take-out point in Robsinson State Park. Thanks to Tom Condon (564-0895) for leading this year's cruise, to Geoerge Reichert and Kathy Meyer for help with publicity and logistics, and to Heather Comee, Allan Guagliardo, John Shuttleworth, Phil Sousa and Henry Warchol for their help in making the day a success.
Rt. 20 Turnouts Clean-Up: For several years Kathy Meyer has organized cleanups of several turnouts along Rt. 20 bordering the Westfield River. The next clean-up is scheduled for Sunday, July 12. Wear old clothes and sturdy shoes and meet at 8:30 a.m. at the "Hill and Dale" turnout opposite Countryside Woodcraft on Rt. 20 in Russell. Kathy Meyer at 568-4252.
Stevens Hiking Trail: The Hilltown Land Trust has established a new 1.2-mile hiking trail in Huntington. It is on a 379-acre parcel of land donated by Frank Stevens to the Hilltown Land Trust. This trail winds through a wooded landscape dotted with boulders covered in mosses, ferns and lichen. Signs of past inhabitants include a cellar hole and a maple sugarhouse ruin. The trail was cleared in 2007, so is not well established. Join Tom and Nancy Condon on Sunday, Sep 20 in an exploration of this beautiful area only recently made available to nature lovers like us, by a generous donor and the gracious efforts of the Hilltown Land Trust. Meet at the kiosk/gazebo at the pullout on Rt. 20 across from the Huntington Health Center at 10:00 a.m. for a roughly 2-hour ramble. Please call 413-564-0895 to register.
Big MOE: For the past couple of years WRWA has had a booth at the Massachusetts Outdoor Exposition in the Sturbridge area, which typically draws 6-7000 attendees. We need volunteers to help staff the booth. Contact Bill Rose (786-0195) for more information.
River Cleanup: Our annual Westfield River Cleanup, held in conjunction with the "Source to Sea" cleanup for the Connecticut River and its tributaries, took place on Saturday, Oct 3. About 45 people met at the Westfield Gas & Electric substation off Meadow St. just east of the south end of the Great River Bridge (the new bridge where Rts. 10 & 202 cross the Westfield River) and another 25 assembled at Pynchon Point in Agawam. Groups then spread out to clean up about a dozen sites along the river, where they collected about 120 bags of trash, 20 tires, and about 60 large items (including signs, shopping carts, sleeping bags, mattresses, and an exercise bicycle!). Thanks to Mark Damon, Heather Comee, and Sheryl Becker for organizing this event!
Turtle Bend Mountain Hike: Avid hikers are welcome to join Nancy Condon and Sheila Croteau on Sunday, Oct 18 for this over-the-mountain hike on Unkamit's Path, (or the U.P.). This trail was named for an Indian guide who led travelers and settlers through the Westfield River valley during colonial times. This 2.5 mile section goes over Turtle Bend Mountain in Russell. This little-used trail leads us up to the top of this singular round hill for a view of the Westfield river valley below, Shatterack Mountain across the river, Tekoa Mountain, and beyond. Fall colors will only help to enhance the picturesque scenery from the top. Be aware that there are some steep sections. This is a rugged, challenging trail for adventurous hikers only. Many blowdowns make bush-whacking necessary and the trail is overgrown with brambles in some sections, so long pants are recommended. Meet at the Westfield River bridge on Main Street in Russell at 9:00 a.m. (we should be back by 1:30 p.m. or so), but please call Nancy (413-564-0895) or Sheila (413-732-7254) to register. We will leave some cars at the meeting place, then shuttle to the start of the hike on Route 20 in Russell. Be sure to wear sturdy, supportive hiking boots. Bring a lunch and water. A hiking stick is recommended as well as an adventurous spirit.
Shatterack Mountain Hike: Rising up over the village of Russell is Shatterack Mountain, which we'll explore with Tom and Nancy Condon on Saturday, Nov 14. 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 1.8 mile 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 sturdy, supportive footwear, dress for the weather, pack a lunch, and carry plenty of water. Meet at the Westfield State College commuter parking lot at 9:00 a.m. and plan on being back by about 1 p.m. Please call 413-564-0895 to register.
Nighttime at Noble View: Officially, winter is just a few days away (December 21). Join Tom and Nancy Condon on Friday, Dec 18 for a pleasant leisurely nighttime walk along the road to the Appalachian Mountain Club's Noble View cabin. Along the way, learn how to call for owls. They will not be nesting until next month, but it is worth a try. We will be alert for other nighttime creatures like porcupine or flying squirrels. Our destination will be the stunning view down into Westfield, where we'll enjoy a little star-gazing (if the weather permits) and some hot chocolate and goodies at the picnic table. Bring along a mug and flashlight. Dress for the weather. Although this hike is free, a donation to help preserve this beautiful piece of AMC property is suggested. Meet at the Noble View parking area off South Quarter Rd. in Russell at 7:00 p.m. and plan on being back by about 9 p.m. Please call 413-564-0895 to register. Heavy rain or heavy snow cancels; light snow would be a delight.