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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 2012 events.
Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program (ASERP): WRWA provided chillers and tanks (and other supplemental equpment) for eight local schools to participate in this program during the Spring of 2012. This year's schools were Abner Gibbs & St. Mary's Elementary, and the North and South Middle (2 tanks) Schools in Westfield, Fausey Elementary in West Springfield, Gateway Regional Middle School in Huntington, Powder Mill Middle School (2 tanks) in Southwick, and Berkshire Trails Elementary in Cummington. About 300 salmon eggs were delivered to each site in February. Students monitored the hatching of the eggs and will care for the fry until they are stocked in local streams in May or early June. Here's a video from a local news program showing students from Berkshire Trails stocking fry with the MA DFW! Thanks to Aaron Reyes, Dan Demers, Michael Vorwerk, Phil Sousa, and Mark Damon for helping with the fry release activities!
18th Westfield River Symposium: WRWA's annual river symposium was held on Saturday, March 24, 2012 in the Scanlon Banquet Hall on the campus of Westfield State University. The program began at 8:30 a.m. with introductions and the keynote address: "A Resilient Future for the Westfield Watershed", by Andy Finton, the MA Director of Science & Conservation for The Nature Conservancy. Half a dozen speakers gave presentations on migratory fish restoration, invasive plants, road crossings, coldwater fisheries, dam removal, and the effects of Tropical Storm Irene during the morning sessions. Roughly 20 exhibitors were on hand to provide information about a number of state or private initiatives within the watershed. Attendance at this year's symposium was approximately 150, with about 15-20 people attending the afternoon field trips to the West Springfield Fish Ladder or the Littleville Dams on the Middle Branch of the Westfield River.
Salmon Stocking: More than 60 people showed up to help stock salmon fry in Granville and Southwick on Saturday, April 14. And another 30+ showed on Saturday, April 21 (NOT the 28th, as was originally thought) to stock along the Middle Branch of the Westfield River. In both cases, the groups met between 8:00 and 8:30 and spent the morning distributing salmon fry along 1 km sections of local rivers and stream. It's a good idea to call Caleb Slater's voicemail (508-389-6331) the day/evening before to confirm the schedule. You can find the full April-May stocking schedule at the Mass Wildlife website.
Kayak/Canoe Demo Day: Together with Wilderness Experiences in Southwick, WRWA co-sponsored its third annual Kayak/Canoe Demo Day on Saturday, May 19, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hampton Ponds State Park Ð with absolutely perfect weather this year! Attendees were able to compare and test-paddle more than 60 different kayaks from a variety of manufacturers (reps were on hand to answer questions). A full slate of programs and demonstrations was offered, including these "in the water" workshops: Whitewater Kayak & Eskimo Roll Demo (10:15 and 12:30), Kayak Intro Clinic (11:00 and 1:15), Kayak Rescue Clinic (11:45 and 2:00) and Stand-Up Paddle Board Intro Clinic (2:45). Several "on land" sessions were also offered, including Kayak & Equipment Basic Demo (10:15 and 1:15), Outfitting your Kayak and Gear for Safety (11:00 and 2:00), How to Transport your Boat (11:45), and a Fishing Demo (12:30 and 2:45). Raffle prizes included a $649 Sound 120 Kayak, a Thule Roof Rack valued at $180, and an Eagle Ray paddle valued at $140 among others. Tickets were $5 each or 6 for $20. Admission was free for WRWA members, or only $5/person or $10/family for others!
WRWA Annual Meeting: The Annual Meeting was held on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at Strathmore Park in Russell. The grounds were open for recreation and visiting starting at 4:00 p.m. A social hour began at 5:00, with the buffet dinner at 6:00 (menu included Chicken Vermont, Roast Pork Loin, Veggie Pasta, salad/rolls, dessert and coffee). Thanks to retiring Board members Kathy Meyer and Cory Andros, and welcome to new Board members Dave Christensen, Daniel Demers, and Mark Lavoie. Dr. Caleb Slater, Anadromous Fish Leader for MA DFW was presented the Waite Award for 2012. The after-dinner speaker was Karen Leigh, Conservation Commission Coordinator for the City of Westfield, who spoke on "Vernal Pools". Thanks to George Reichert for organizing this event.
Fishway Open House: WRWA sponsored our annual open house at the West Springfield Fish Ladder on Sunday, June 3, 2012 from 10 am to 3 pm. This free events offers a "once-a-year" opportunity to tour the fish ladder, and this year we were also lucky enough to see the transfer of an adult salmon to the holding tank on site! WRWA Board members were present to describe the history and operation of the fish ladder, and visitors had a chance to go down into the "pit" to watch fish moving upstream. Parking was available near the old Southworth Paper Company building at 150 Front St. in West Springfield. Thanks to Bill Rose (413-786-0195) and Phil Sousa for organizing, and also to Lynn Bannon, Sheryl Becker, Mark Damon, Dan Demers, Timblin Judy, Fran Siska, Henry Warchol, and Mike Young for helping with registration and/or orienting visitors.
Westfield River Canoe Cruise: WRWA's annual canoe cruise along the Westfield River, from the Great River Bridge in Westfield to Robinson State Park in Agawam, was held on Saturday, June 16, 2012, concurrent with the Friends of Robinson Park's annual Robinson State Park Day. More than 80 paddlers participated in this year's event, a record turnout! Registration took place from 12-1 pm at the parking area just east of the Great River Bridges (Rts. 10/202) in Westfield, which is accessible off Meadow St. After registration, boats were dropped off at the end of Hanover St., and a shuttle allowed participants to park their cars at the take-out point in Robinson State Park. The cost was $7/person or $20/family, which covered the cost of insurance and snacks at the park following the trip. Thanks to Fran Siska and Phil Sousa for organizing this event.
Storm Drain Labeling: Volunteers have labeled more than 700 storm drains in Westfield this summer (including the newly repaved sections of Broad, Main, and Elm Streets) and we're planning to continue work in the Munger Hill section of town during the fall. Thanks to Sheryl Becker, Teresa Greenwood, Timblin Judy, Aaron Reyes, Kristine Vorwerk, and Mike Young for helping out with this project.
The Watershed Waltz: A free public performance of "The Watershed Waltz", a puppet show about healthy watersheds targeted for elementary-age children, drew an audience of more than 30 people at the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday, July 10 at 6:00 p.m. Registration for the show was required (available beginning on Tuesday, June 26 at 8:30 a.m.), and was completed at the desk in the Boys & Girls Library or by contacting the library at (413) 562-6158 (extension 5). The show was developed by Marmalade Productions of Becket, with funding provided by The Highlands Community Initiative (a program of The Trustees of Reservations) and the Westfield River Watershed Association. WRWA sponsored this performance.
Fly-Fishing Clinic: WRWA, in conjunction with the Western Massachusetts Fly-Fishing Association, again sponsored a fly-fishing clinic at the Rt. 20 turnout in Huntington on Saturday, September 15, 2012. This event offers an opportunity for some instruction on fly-tying and casting.
Annual River Cleanup In conjunction with the Connecticut River Watershed Council's "Source to Sea" cleanup, WRWA organized volunteers to clean up sections of the Westfield River from Huntington to Agawam on Saturday, September 29, 2012. Totals for Westfield included 116 bags of trash, 13 tires, and 46 other large items. In Agawam, where about 40 people turned out, the haul included about 35 bags of trash, 10 tires, and a number of other large items. Thanks to Mark Damon (Westfield) and Sheryl Becker (Agawam) for continuing to do much of the organizational work for this event.
Stream Connectivity Talk: Scott Jackson, Director of the Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Program at UMass, spoke to a crowd of more than 60 people on Tuesday, December 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Westfield Athenaeum. Scott is well known for his work on the River and Stream Continuity project, the Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System, and other projects. Scott's topic was Conserving River and Stream Biodiversity. He gave an overview of the diversity of fish and wildlife in MA rivers and streams, described the relationship between rivers and streams and the upland areas that abut them, and discussed the potential impacts of stream discontinuity (caused, for example, by the presence of undersized or poorly designed culverts and bridges)on wildlife. His slide presentation was followed by a question and answer period.