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Watershed News Spring/Summer 2021

President’s Address
I’ve been feeling that the anniversary of the filing out to their summer expanses. The fish
beginning of the pandemic has felt surreal, and runs are even starting to wind down so sum-
I’m sure many of you will agree. The shock of mer 2021 is around the bend!
its rapid onset, followed by the turmoil it pro- Though our activities have been impacted a
duced, the mix of normalcy and acquiescence bit by the pandemic (no Canoe Cruise again!)
and those ‘oh yeah, we’re still in a pandemic!’ we have so much going on to tell you, our
moments. Turning the corner has felt extraor- members, about! As always, we deeply appre-
dinary! I don’t think it has ever felt so good to ciate your shared commitment to our wonder-
hug people! ful watershed that supports so much diversity
Nature’s rhythms have continued and now and the promise of a sustainable future for all.
most of the spring bird migrants have returned Your work as volunteers, recreationalists, na-
to the woods behind our home. The wood pee- ture lovers and citizen-scientists really makes
wee, usually the last to arrive for us, showed a difference in this world!
up a couple of days ago. We had our annual In solidarity with the Watershed,
moose visit (they seem to come through our Brian W. Conz
site in May every year) and with a recent series WRWA President
of thunderstorms the trees and wildflowers are

Westfield River Watershed Association News 1

Earth Day Clean-Ups!
On Saturday the 24th, WRWA held its spring
cleanup day, and this year’s was a great suc-
cess. Over 60 participants fanned out from the
Westfield staging area to cover sites from
Huntington to West Springfield, mostly on the
main stem of the Westfield itself, but also in-
cluding Little River and Powder Mill Brook.
We removed well over 40 bags of trash and
over 20 tires (13 of those tires from one site),
along with various other items like mattresses
and construction debris.
At the Agawam site, the turnout broke a new
has been diligently working on for years. The bill
record with nearly 50 participants, including folks
from Sea Shepherd, the Agawam Lions Club, would add a deposit fee to nip bottles in MA.
Agawam High School students, and Republic The Agawam trash tally was approximately 30
Waste and Recycling Services. The cleanup was in bags of trash, a traffic cone, 5 blankets, a large
honor of Jack Coughlin, who died April 18 after foam pad, a rug, a trash bin, 2 folding chairs, hun-
being hit by a car in January while picking up trash dreds of nails in the riverbed, 6 syringes, a large
in Agawam, as he did daily for many years. Mayor wooden board, and countless cans, bottles, and nip
Sapelli, Senator Velis, Councilor Bitzas, and Sean bottles!A third group organized by the Wild and
Coughlin, Jack’s son, attended and spoke about the Scenic Committee met in Chesterfield to clean up
state Nip Bottles Bill, which Jack proposed and the Dead Branch.

Westfield River Watershed Association News 2

Fish Ladder Open House
We were able to hold the Fish Ladder Open House parison, 2021 saw 362,423 shad come through
this year! Thanks to all of the 60+ people who Holyoke and 5,549 come through the West Spring-
showed up to witness one of the watershed’s most field site.
impressive natural events – the spring fish migra- As many of you know, shad are an anadromous fish
tions. We had a beautiful day for the event– sunny species. Like their fellow migrants – alewives, blue-
and comfortable – and although we were not able to back herring, sea lampreys, gizzard shad and the oc-
get into the counting room to view the fish through casional salmon – shad make their way back to the
the glass, hundreds of fish could be seen making rivers of their birth in order to spawn, then spend
their way to the base of the ladder. most of their lives in the ocean. The American Eel is
We don’t have any counts from the Westfield River catadromous, meaning they spawn in the ocean and
site at this point, but as of June 2, 208,858 shad had live their adult lives in freshwater rivers.
come through the Holyoke fish elevator. For com-

Westfield River Watershed Association News 3

WRWA Helping Save the Country’s Oldest Wild-Water Races
WRWA has partnered with remnants of the West- Putting on these races requires a huge effort and a
field Wild Water Race committee to keep this great deal of coordination and planning. The cur-
longest running wild water race going. For those rent race organizers have put in their time and are
of you who don’t know, the races occur in April looking to pass the torch. They reached out to the
and are a festive occasion in the hilltowns where WRWA Board of Directors to help them with the
river enthusiasts and neighbors come to line the transition and we agreed to support a sub-com-
river banks and run the rapids on sections of the mittee that will assist in ensuring the races’ sur-
Middle Branch and the river’s main stem in Hunt- vival. If you are interested in being involved in
ington and Russell. There are a number of different this work please reach out to one of our
categories for the race based on age groups, gen- board members!
der, boat type, etc. and there are prizes and
much merrymaking.

WRWA Internships
Education is at the core of the WRWA’s mission and moval and monitoring, and a range of other stew-
we engage in many types of outreach to schools and ardship activities.
the community at large. One of our most significant Our internships are key avenues through which we
contributions occurs through our support of intern- can provide financial support to young environmental
ships. Internships are a valuable way for college stu- professionals-in-training. This summer we are sup-
dents and others to gain valuable on-the-job experi- porting two interns. One is conducting water quality
ence and to network with professionals and monitoring on the main stem of the Westfield, in and
prospective employers. Over the years the WRWA around the Westfield city center. The second is work-
has supported students doing public relations and
ing through the Wild and Scenic Westfield Commit-
professional writing work, mapping and ecological tee, doing invasive species removal and mapping, as
analysis, water quality testing, invasive species re- well as other stewardship work.

Westfield River Watershed Association News 4

Species Spotlight: Seiurus aurocapillus, Ovenbird
This year I was determined to find an ovenbird
nest, so much so that I told my kids I’d pay $50 to
anyone who could spot one. Ovenbirds are com-
mon in the woods where I live and their loud
crescendoing ‘teahCHER! teaCHER! teaCHER!’
call can be heard echoing in forest interiors
throughout our region. They get their name from
the oven-like dome of forest litter that the fashion
into a nest. The round hole opening is the give-
away but they can be very hard to see!
Well I had to pay myself the reward because while
out walking I flushed an ovenbird and she gave
away her position. I peaked under some huckle- Satellite image of the
Photo courtesy of Deepwater Horizon
Cornell Lab oil spill, 2010.
of Ornithology
berry bushes and saw the opening in some leaves Source: NASA
and pine needles. So inconspicuous!
belly, white eye rings and an orange cap outlined
Ovenbirds are neo-tropical migrants, meaning they in black. Ovenbirds depend on contiguous areas of
arrive to us from their wintering grounds in Cen- mature mixed forest and they are part of a family
tral and South America. They are quite beautiful of birds known as the wood warblers. This group
though modestly colored with brown backs and of forest-lovers is impressively diverse with 43
wings, black streaks running from white breast to species recorded in Massachusetts!

Westfield River Watershed Association News 5

Watershed board members
President: Brian Conz 999 General Knox Rd., Russell, MA 01071 572-8084
1st Vice President: Mark Damon 297 Western Ave Westfield 01085 977-1577
2nd Vice President: Ann Barone 3 Delancey St, Westfield 01085 374-9799
Secretary: Jake Lehan 577 Western Ave, Westfield, MA 01086 364-3413
Treasurer: John Pelli 32 Laro Road, Westfield, MA 01085 562-0182
Sheryl Becker 142 Beekman Dr, Agawam, MA 01001 374-1921
Daizha Baptiste-Johnson 91 Three Rivers Road Wilbraham MA 01095 309-2740
Kristen Couture 42 Spruceland Rd., Enfield, CT 06082 860-818-9083
Lauren Di Carlo 15 Angelica Drive, Westfield, Ma. 01085 572-8609
Ron Lucassen 39 Rachael Terrace, Westfield, MA 01085 568-4252
Julieanne Sobon
Dianne Snyder 6 Park St., Westfield, MA 01085 562-6126
Heather Wyman 38 Rosedell Dr, Westfield, MA 01085
Honorary Directors
Dan Call 78 Granville Road, Unit 10, Westfield 01085 364-0993

Registering at the Pynchon Point river clean up.

Westfield River Watershed Association News 6
PO Box 1764
Westfield, MA 01086-1764

Westfield River Watershed
Association Newsletter
Spring/Summer 2021

In This Issue
Presidents Address ............................... 2
Earth Day Clean-Ups! ........................... 2
Fish Ladder Open House ...................... 3
WRWA Helping Save the
Country’s Oldest Wild-Water Races ....... 4
WRWA Internships ................................ 4
Species Spotlight:
Seiurus aurocapillus, Ovenbird .............. 5
Watershed board members .................... 6

Westfield River Watershed Association News 7

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