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I hope that all of our members, their families, and friends were able to attend our 10th annual Westfield River Symposium on Saturday, March 27th. The event was a great success! More than 160 attendees filled the Savignano Auditorium on the campus of Westfield State College to listen to speakers, view displays, and talk with representatives of a variety of governmental, non-profit, and citizens groups about river and watershed issues. In attendance were several local celebrities, including State Representative Don Humason, a long-time supporter and member of the WRWA.
After welcoming comments from William Lopes, Senior Vice President at Westfield State College, and Mike Young, President of the WRWA, the event was opened by keynote speaker Wayne MacCallum, Director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Following the keynote address, attendees could choose from concurrent speaker sessions on topics including sustainable cities, old growth forests, beaver issues, trail projects, river continuity studies, and conservation strategies for the Watershed. Displays at the Symposium this year ranged from a fly-tying demonstration, Westfield State College student research projects on several aspects of the health of local river habitats, attempts to return the American Chestnut to the Watershed, birds of western Massachusetts, wildlife photography by a local photographer, and representatives from numerous state and local agencies and organizations. And, of course, the WRWA had a display highlighting our current projects, up-coming events, and soliciting volunteers for our impending fry stocking and fish ladder monitoring activities (if you didn't have a chance to volunteer for these activities at the Symposium, see related articles in this Newsletter for opportunities). In the afternoon, participants were invited to attend one of two field trips. The first trip was a walk through Stanley Park to view and discuss local habitats. The walk was led by Westfield State College biologist . The second was a trip to view the Littleville and Knightville flood control dams. Participants were guided by Tom Wisnauskas from the Army Corps of Engineers, and were able to go inside the dams. In short, there was something for everyone!
The annual Symposium is a large undertaking, and would not take place without the considerable efforts of our many volunteers. Many hours are invested in reserving the facilities, ordering the food and beverages, soliciting a keynote speaker, organizing the exhibitors, arranging the speaker program, organizing the afternoon field trips, producing and printing the posters and programs, advertising and promoting the event, setting up the tables and audio-video equipment, and the hundreds of other tasks that result in an educational and enjoyable Symposium. A heart-felt thanks goes out to all of our participants and volunteers, as well as to all of you who attended the event!
The Symposium was sponsored this year by your membership support, Westfield State College, and Westfield Gas and Electric Company. We sincerely hope that all of you who attended the Symposium enjoyed the event and learned something new about your local River and Watershed. If you have any suggestions or would like to volunteer to help with next year's Symposium, please do not hesitate to contact any one of us on the Board of Directors.