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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 2015 events.
Trout in the Classroom (TIC): WRWA provided chillers and tanks (and other supplemental equpment) for five local schools (7 tanks) to participate in this program during the Spring of 2015. This year's schools were the North and South Middle (2 tanks each) Schools in Westfield, 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 January. Students will monitor the hatching of the eggs and feed the young fish until they are 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.
Berkshire Wildlife Linkage talk: Laura Marx, of The Nature Conservancy, spoke to an audience of about 30 people on "The Berkshire Wildlife Linkage: using wildlife tracking and cameras to learn where animals are moving and ways we can help" at the Westfield Athenaeum at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 28. Her talk focused on the key role that the Westfield watershed plays in allowing animals to move between the Green Mountains of VT and the Hudson highlands of NY, why that movement is important, and the results of tracking and camera studies along Rt 112 and the Westfield River in Huntington last winter that have provided new information on this fascinating topic.
2015 Westfield River Symposium: WRWA's annual river symposium was held on Saturday, April 11 in the Scanlon Banquet Hall on the campus of Westfield State University. Roughly 100 people attended and both field trips had groups of a dozen or so. This year's theme was "Outdoor Fun in Your Watershed", with a variety of speakers and exhibitors in the morning and a couple of field trips in the afternoon. The keynote address was given by Joe Giffune, President of the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail, who talked about the history and future of that new addition to local recreational opportunities. The full program is available here.
Spring River Cleanup: The annual spring cleanup event was held on Saturday, April 25 in Westfield (the Agawam event was cancelled due to high river levels on the Connecticut). More than 30 folks turned out to clean accumulated trash and debris from the riverbanks at several sites that were chosen based on spring surveys. The "haul" included 73 bags of trash, 6 tires, and 49 other large items (including shopping carts, toilets, a mattress, a scooter, and a lawn chair). Thanks to Mark Damon (413-977-1577) for organizing.
Annual Meeting: About 25 people attended WRWA's annual meeting (open only to members), at which the Board for 2015-2016 was elected, along with the Secretary and Treasurer, on Tuesday, May 19 in the downstairs meeting space at the Westfield Athenaeum. A social hour, with light refreshments, began at 6:15 p.m. and was followed by the business meeting, which featured a brief recap of the year's events and an update from Kane Hardaker, the WSU student who's served as an intern for WRWA during the spring semester. Thanks to retiring board members David Conley and James Johnson. Welcome to new board members John Pelli and Samantha Via.
Fish Ladder Open House: This once-a-year opportunity to tour the West Springfield fish ladder was offered on Sunday, June 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and nearly 300 people showed up this year! WRWA Board members explained the operation of the ladder and some attendees got to see shad and brown trout in the viewing window as well as peeking into the eelway tank. Parking was in the old Southworth Paper Company lot at 150 Front St. in West Springfield. Thanks to Bill Rose and Phil Sousa for organizing, and to Mark Damon, Timblin Judy, Fran Siska, and Mike Young for helping with the tours.
Westfield River Canoe and Kayak Cruise: Our annual boating trip from downtown Westfield to Robinson State Park was run on Saturday, June 20. Though this 6-7 mile paddle (mostly flat water, but with a couple of quick water sections - and possibly involving a short portage around one or two difficult spots) parallels the busy Rt. 20 corridor, it has a surprisingly natural feel and we've seen lampreys, mergansers, beavers, orioles and bald eagles on some past trips! Registration took place from 10-11 am at the parking area just east of the Great River Bridges in Westfield (off Meadow St.), after which canoes and kayaks were dropped off at the end of Hanover St. where there was a shuttle for participants to spot their cars at Robinson State Park and be returned to the launch area. The first group launched around 11:00 am. Cost for the cruise was $10 per paddler or $25 per family, and covered insurance and snacks at the end of the cruise.
Storm Drain Labeling in Southwick: On Saturday, July 11 and again on Saturday, July 18 and Saturday, August 22 volunteers took to the streets of Southwick to label storm drains. We've now labeled more than 900 drains in that town, nearly exhausting our supply of markers. Thanks to Janeene Clark, Elizabeth Hall, Phillip Hall, Ronald Hall, Deb Herath, John Pelli, Lindsay Walsh, Scott Walsh, Tom Walsh, and Mike Young for their hard work on this project!
Fall River Clean-Up: On Saturday, September 26 WRWA sponsored its annual fall cleanup (as part of the Connecticut River Watershed Council's "Source to Sea" event) along the Westfield River in Westfield and Agawam. A good turnout (thanks, especially to the volunteers from Lane Construction Co.) resulted in the removal of lots of trash and larger debris from the river and its bank in both towns - a full report will appear in the December newsletter. Thanks to Mark Damon (Westfield) and Sheryl Becker (Agawam) for their efforts to identify locations in need of cleaning and their leadership on the day of the event!
Julie Richburg's Invasives Talk: Julie Richburg, a regional ecologist for The Trustees of Reservations, spoke on "Invasive Plants in our Gardens: Why should we care and what should we do?" to a highly engaged audience of 25-30 on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lang Auditorium (downstairs) of the Westfield Athenaeum. She covered some of the common invasive plants we may have growing in our yards, why we don't want them, and how to get rid of them. If you missed the talk, or if you'd like to review some of her suggestions, a pdf version of her PowerPoint slides can be downloaded here.