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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 2014 events.
Trout in the Classroom (TIC): WRWA provided chillers and tanks (and other supplemental equpment) for six local schools (8 tanks) to participate in this program during the Spring of 2014. This year's schools were the North and South Middle (2 tanks) Schools in Westfield, Mater Dolorosa Elementary in Holyoke, Gateway Regional Middle School in Huntington, Powder Mill Middle School (2 tanks) in Southwick, and Berkshire Trails Elementary in Cummington. About 100 brook trout eggs were delivered to each site in December. Students monitored the hatching of the eggs and fed the young fish until they were stocked in local streams in April or May. This program, sponsored by Trout Unlimited and MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, replaces the Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program, which many of these schools have been participating in for 5-10 years. Thanks to Fran Siska, Tarin Weiss, Mark Damon, and Mike Young for assistance with release activities for some of the schools.
19th Annual River Symposium: The 20th Annual Westfield River Symposium was held on Saturday, April 5 in the Scanlon Banquet Hall at Westfield State University. This year's theme was "The Health of Our Watershed: Forests, Wildlife, Water", and the keynote address was given by Jonathan Thompson of the Harvard Forest. The event, which attracted more than 100 attendees, featured half a dozen morning talks and a variety of exhibitors, followed by an animal tracking session with WRWA President Brian Conz in the early afternoon.
Spring River Cleanup (Westfield): WRWA sponsored spring cleanups, in honor of Earth Day, along the Westfield River on Saturday, April 26 in Westfield and on Sunday, April 27 in Agawam.
2014 Demo Day: In conjunction with Wilderness Experiences of Southwick, WRWA hosted the fifth annual kayak demo day on Saturday, May 17 at Hampton Ponds State Park. Participants had a beautiful day to try out a variety of kayaks and paddleboards, and to get advice on technique and styles from the Wilderness Experiences staff. Food and a raffle for a new kayak and other gear were also offered.
WRWA Annual Meeting: WRWA's annual membership meeting was held on the evening of Thursday, May 22 at the Westfield Athenaeum (downstairs just inside the main door). Refreshments began at 5:45 p.m., and the business meeting started at 6:20 p.m. Fran Siska (treasurer) and Mark Damon (secretary) were re-elected to their positions for another year and a slate of Board Members was approved by the roughly 20 members present. Our thanks to Dan Demers and Sabine Prather, retiring Board members and a welcome to two new Board members: Dave Conley (a former WRWA president) and James Johnson. The Waite Award was given to Mike Young, longtime WRWA Board member, for his work with the ASERP/TIC program and for organizing storm drain labeling over the past several years. After the meeting David Christensen, WSU biology professor, gave an excellent talk on the Kinne Brook dam removal project and food web studies in Pequot Pond - you can view his PowerPoint slides here.
Fish Ladder Open House: Our annual open house at the West Springfield Fish Ladder on Sunday, June 1 was again a great success. WRWA Board members provided information about the site from 10 AM to 3 PM, with several hundred visitors taking advantage of this once-a-year opportunity. Thanks to Bill Rose for organizing the event.
Westfield River Canoe/Kayak Cruise: The annual Westfield River Canoe Cruise, running from downtown Westfield to Robinson State Park in Agawam, was held on Saturday, June 21 in conjunction with Robinson Park Day. More than 60 paddlers joined in the fun! Registration was from from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the parking area just east of the Great River Bridges in Westfield (accessible from Meadow Street). After registration, canoes and kayaks were dropped off at the end of Hanover St. and a shuttle was provided so that paddlers could leave their vehicles at Robinson Park at the end of the "cruise". Cost was $10 per person or $20 per family, which covered insurance and light snacks at the take-out in Robinson State Park. Please note that each participant must have a PFD and each boat must have a whistle. It's also a good idea to bring along sunscreen, some drinking water and a snack for along the route. Thanks to Fran Siska, Phil Sousa, and George Reichert for organizing this year's event. .
Storm Drain Labeling: WRWA has continued its efforts to label storm drains within the watershed, with work during the mornings of Saturday, June 14, Saturday, July 12 and Saturday, August 9. We've labeled most of the drains in the central portions of Chester and Worthington, and have labeled about 350 drains in Westfield this year (mostly in neighborhoods near Exit 3 of the MassPike and downtown between Court and Silver Streets). Thanks to Aaron Reyes, Barbara Rokosz, Scott Walsh, Tom Walsh, and Mike Young for helping out with this project.
Fly-Fishing Clinic: In conjunction with the Western Massachusetts Fly-Fishing Association, WRWA held a fly-fishing clinic at the Rt. 20 turnout in Huntington on Saturday, September 13. Attendees had a chance to learn fly-tying, to try casting, and to identify some of the macroinvertebrates that live in the river. This free event ran from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Thanks to Bill Rose and Mark Damon for organizing!
Source to Sea River Cleanup: In conjunction with the Connecticut River Watershed Council, WRWA again hosted fall river cleanups along the Westfield River in Westfield and surrounding communities on Saturday, September 27 (Westfield) and Sunday, September 28 (Agawam). On Saturday, we met at 9:00 am at the River Walk parking area off Meadow St. in Westfield (just E of the northbound 10/202 bridge). On Sunday, we met at Pynchon Point in Agawam, near the mouth of the Westfield River. Thanks to Mark Damon (Westfield) and Sheryl Becker (Agawam) for organizing this event.