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Spring 2002

The President's Message

Dear Westfield River Watershed members and supporters:

As you read this issue of the Watershed News, Spring is upon us! Actually, Spring just hung around
all Winter, with a few brief vacations, which allowed for the modicum of snow cover this past season.
Be that as it may, Spring is here and wonderful things are happening in the watershed. There are many
events planned to enhance your enjoyment of the watershed where you work and live. Once again our
hardworking, enthusiastic, and dedicated Board of Directors has strived to assemble a schedule of
events and programs to peak your interest and entice your participation. As with any organization, new
members and directors with fresh energy and ideas, are always welcome. If you have a desire to be in
on the inside flow and be a part of the mainstream planning for future projects feel free to contact any
of the directors and officers. The time to get involved is now!

The events and programs this year will have a special significance, as they mark the 50th Anniversary
of this prestigious organization! Plans have already been formulated for various events and projects to
herald this outstanding achievement. You may have seen or are wearing our new clothing line, replete
with the WRWA logo on a deep forest green fabric with matching cap. We need your help to make the
50th year celebration a meaningful success! Your attendance and support at the various events will be
most welcome and appreciated, as will any assistance that you can provide to the event organizers.

And speaking of events, the WRWA s 8th Annual Symposium was a huge success! The theme this
year was Your Watershed: Past, Present, and Future and the various sessions were extremely
interesting and very well attended. Proclamations from the Governor, State Senate, State House of
Representatives, the Mayor of Westfield, and a plaque from the Massachusetts Riverways Program,
attesting to the 50th anniversary of our organization, began a day full of excellent presentations,
displays, field trips, and a huge (and tasty) 50th Anniversary cake. The symposium organizers
certainly deserve a great deal of credit and a hearty thank you for an excellent program and a very
enjoyable time!!

It's time to get up out of the easy chair and get out into the watershed to partake of its many
recreational opportunities! Spring is in the air and salmon fry stocking is afoot! (Hopefully the foot is
in a pair of waders with no leaks!).

Yours in Watersheducation,

C. Mason Maronn President

Westfield River Watershed Team,

Massachusetts Watershed Initiative
Michael Parker, Team Leader

As most of you know, the Westfield River Watershed Team brings together people from the federal,
state, and local agencies to work with citizen groups (like the WRWA), businesses, and others to
identify environmental issues and solve problems on a watershed basis.

This four-year-old program has been very successful in increasing the flow of information between
groups and providing the means for good cooperative problem solving to take place. An example is the
severe erosion at Robinson State Park that had been identified by the Department of Environmental
Management many years ago but had not been able to be addressed because of the lack of outside
pressure. The Watershed Team got involved, helped fund a detailed evaluation and study of the
problem, and supported the state¹s efforts to remedy the situation. Today, a contractor is working on
the site to correct this problem.

In Fiscal year 2002 (July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002) the Team has been able to fund a study of the
Pequot Pond subwatershed in Westfield, begin to implement a vegetated buffer project on Pond Brook
in Westfield, provide funding for Open Space Plans for communities in the Wild and Scenic River
designation, begin a two-year study of Blueback Herring reproduction in the Westfield River, and
undertake a trails inventory and evaluation in the lower Westfield River watershed through Westfield
State College. All of these projects are completed or expected to be completed soon.

For Fiscal Year 2003 (July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003) the Team has requested funds to continue the
Blueback Herring study, provide assistance to the Wild and Scenic Committee, develop a marketing
and management study for forest landowners in the watershed, conduct a mussel survey in parts of the
Westfield River, and promote public education through symposiums and other outreach efforts.

This cooperative approach to identifying issues and solving problems in our watershed is working very
well. The WRWA has been an excellent partner on the Team and, through membership in this citizen¹s
organization, you are helping to set environmental priorities and protect our valuable natural

Symposium Provides Retrospective on Past and

Vision of Future
Kathy Meyer

About 150 eager participants journeyed both backward and forward in time at WRWA's 8th Annual
Westfield River Symposium on March 23. The symposium¹s theme, Your Watershed: Past, Present &
Future, tied in with WRWA¹s 50th Anniversary which we are celebrating in 2002.
Protecting open space and preserving biodiversity offer both a challenge for the present and an
opportunity for the future. Keynote speaker Robert O'Connor of the Massachusetts Executive Office of
Environmental Affairs described the state¹s visionary plan for doing both with his comprehensive
presentation on "Open Space Plan for Massachusetts".

Between sessions, participants could view over 20 exhibits. Following the keynote address, concurrent
morning sessions provided deeper insights on a variety of topics. Historian Dennis Picard explained
the fascinating canal system that ran from Northampton to the Congamond Lakes in the 1840s. Bob
Leverett connected us to our past with his discussion of Old Growth Trees. Paul Catanzaro of the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management and Art Eve discussed modern forest
management practices. Jim Gibbs of the Department of Environmental Protection addressed the
difficult problem of beaver control, while Scott Jackson from UMass Extension explained the
importance of Vernal Pools in our watershed. Dr. Caleb Slater from the Division of Fisheries and
Wildlife described the progress being made in restoring migrating fish such as shad, herring , eel, and
Atlantic Salmon to the Westfield River and its tributaries.

Following lunch, participants had the opportunity to attend an indoor program or go on field trips. For
those attending the indoor program, a new appreciation of the watershed¹s beautiful flora and fauna
emerged as seen through the lens of professional photographer Dan Minicucci in his stunning
audio/visual presentation of Biodiversity in the Westfield River Watershed. Dr. Caleb Slater led a field
trip to the state-of-the art fishway and eelway at DSI/FiberMark and Ralph Tarnauskas guided
participants through Springfield¹s W. Parish Water Filtration Plant.

Because this is our 50th Anniversary, Senator Michael Knapik and Westfield Mayor Richard Sullivan
were on hand to honor WRWA for its 50 years of local conservation efforts. Senator Knapik presented
WRWA with a Senatorial Proclamation and Mayor Sullivan presented a City Proclamation. Although
she couldn¹t be present in person, Representative Cele Hahn offered a House Proclamation, read by
Massachusetts Watershed Initiative Team Leader Mike Parker.

Other special touches for our 50th Anniversary included a cake with a picture of the Westfield River
and 50th Anniversary apparel worn by WRWA Board Members. Board member Rob Bristow wrote a
short position paper on the "State of the Westfield River Watershed" summarizing where we now
stand in our efforts to preserve our watershed. History buffs will appreciate the 50 year history of
WRWA that Board Member Ken Taylor is compiling. He is thorough, and although he is only finished
with the first 25 years, the paper is already 50 pages long! A 5 page summary was available at the
symposium. Ken plans to have the complete history finished for our Annual Dinner/Meeting in June.

Committee members who organized this successful symposium are Carl Grobe, Ken Taylor, C. Mason
Maronn, Mike Vorwerk, Mike Young and Mike Parker. We owe special thanks to Mike Parker, who
went "above and beyond" in his contributions to this symposium. If you would like to see photos from
the symposium, visit our new website at

Atlantic Salmon Restoration Update 

Mike Young

WRWA is continuing its involvement with the Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program. This spring
we've provided two aquarium systems for use in the Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program (ASERP),
a project of the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and
Wildlife, with organizational assistance from Trout Unlimited. One tank is being supervised by the
students of Team 62 at the Westfield South Middle School, under the direction of their teacher
Maureen Napoles. Salmon eggs were delivered to the school in late February and have now hatched
out. The students will begin feeding the fry by mid-April and are planning to stock them out in the
Little River behind the school during the first few days of May. The students are also conducting an
environmental survey of the release site, checking on water flow, water temperature, stream sediment
characteristics, and status of the floodplain areas along the stream.

The second tank is housed in the Elementary Science Education classroom at Westfield State, under
the supervision of Linda Pirek and Frank Giuliano. Those fry will be released at 10 a.m. on Saturday
morning April 27 at the Whitney Playground near downtown Westfield. The event will be open to the
public and everyone will have a chance to release a few fry into the river. We're planning to have at
least one more school in the Westfield Watershed involved in the program next year, and are looking
for volunteers interested in helping out with the program. If you're interested, contact Mike Young
(572-5741, or via email to "").

As we have for many years now, WRWA is also assisting the state with the stocking of salmon fry in
the Westfield Watershed. Nearly a million fry will be stocked between mid-April and early May.
WRWA is hoping to provide a good number of volunteers on Saturday April 20 (meet at Tekoa
Country Club on Rt. 20 about 3 miles west of downtown Westfield at 8:30 a.m.) and April 27 (meet at
the Gateway Regional High School in Huntington at 8:30 a.m.). Be sure to confirm the schedule the
day/evening before by calling Caleb Slater's voice mail at 508-792-7270 (extension 133). Bring boots
or waders if you have them (the state has provided some waders in the past if you don't) and a lunch.
Expect to carry a bucket of fry along a half-mile stretch of stream, distributing the fry in handfuls in
sections that appear to provide the right habitat. It's a great experience and a good way to find some
interesting stream segments that you might never have visited otherwise. For more information, check
out the Events page of the new WRWA website.

WRWA Website
Mike Young

The WRWA website has been extensively revamped over the past couple of months. The new site
features a listing of events that the organization is sponsoring during the year, including the schedule
for salmon fry stocking and some details on the canoe cruise, annual meeting, staffing of the DSI dam
fishway/eelway, and the fall river clean-up. Also included are programs for all the past Westfield
River Symposia, an Education Guide to resources for topics relevant to the watershed, and a
Recreation Guide with information on a variety of activities within the watershed. If you have
suggestions for additions to the guides, please forward them to Phil Hotchkiss
( We plan to include the contents of this and future newsletters on
the website as well. Check us out at our temporary location: "" or look
for us at our new home (hopefully by the time this newsletter reaches you) at: "". 

Canoe Cruise / Picnic / Nature Program

On SATURDAY, JUNE 1 we have a fun-filled days of events planned to celebrate our 50th
Anniversary. All activities are free and open to the public, so invite your friends.

Admission to Robinson State Park is free for those participating in the picnic, Biodiversity Day Hikes,
and picking up canoeists by mentioning Westfield River Watershed Association. For more details on
the canoe trip, contact trip leaders George Martin at 562-618 and Mike Vorwerk at 667- 5152. For
more info on picnic and hikes, call Kathy Meyer at 568-4252.

Canoe Cruise

Since this is our 50th Anniversary, we hope to have 50 canoes and kayaks for this leisurely 6 mile
paddle down the Westfield River from downtown Westfield to Robinson State Park. We will meet at
the canoe launch in Westfield near the power substation on Meadow St. Registration is from 8:30 to
9:30 AM. Canoes and kayaks will launch at 9:30. We will take out at Robinson State Park where we
will picnic and, if you wish, hike with the rest of our group. Bring your own canoe or kayak, water,
land life jackets. Lunch is provided after the trip.


For those not canoeing, meet at Robinson State Park in the Picnic Area nearest to the canoe landing.
Food, beverages, and 50th Anniversary Cake will be served from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM. Those of us
who don¹t go on the canoe cruise can greet the canoes and kayaks as they arrive. We will have a booth
with information about the Westfield River, its ecology, and recreational opportunities.
Biodiversity Day Hikes

1:00 PM adult hike along the Westfield River. This 4-mile hike will take about 2 - 3 hours and will
give us great views of the Westfield River. We may see wildflowers , waterfowl and we will be able to
see the DSI fishway. Although we will be across the river from the fishway, the trip leader will explain
how it works and why it is important for migrating fish.

1:00 PM children¹s program will leave from our picnic site to explore the hidden life within the ponds
and forests of Robinson State Park. Maybe we will see plants, frogs, snakes, insects, or salamanders.
Suitable for children of all ages. Parents should plan to accompany their children on this adventure.
This program will take about 1 hour.


DSI Open House for Fishway/Eelway

This is peak time to see fish moving upriver using this state of the art Fishway at the DSI/Fibermark
dam in West Springfield. Children will love this. 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on May 18 at 70 W. Front St.,
West Springfield, MA. For further information contact Gabe Khatchadourian at 568-3005.

Summer 2002

The President's Final Message

Dear Westfield River Watershed members and supporters:
As you read this newsletter, summer will be drawing to a close and fall will not be too far behind. The
watershed will soon be resplendent with the myriad sights, sounds, and smells of nature at her finest.
Soon cool crisp air will replace the hot stagnant haze of late summer afternoons as nature puts on a
glorious show before retiring for a long winters rest. Fall is a perfect time for hiking the many trails
that are found within the watershed, including the beautiful and historic Keystone Arch Bridges Trail
in Chester. A lot of hard work by dedicated volunteers has gone into the construction of this trail
system and more improvements are on the way. Fall is also the season for town and county fairs! Pack
the family into the car and take a leisurely drive in the country to your local fair for a fun filled day out
in the watershed!

I would like to report that the Annual Meeting of the WRWA was again a successful and enjoyable
evening in June. Many of the past presidents were present and recognized for their efforts in guiding
the Westfield River Watershed Association in its fifty years of stewardship to the ecological
environment. Vincent Dowling, actor and author extraordinaire, thrilled the attendees with a
marvelous and enthralling after-dinner repartee. Mike Parker, our hardworking and extremely
dedicated Watershed Team Leader, was surprised and honored as the recipient of the annual Waite

I would like to pass along a reminder that the 4th Annual Lake/Pond and River Symposium will be
held on Saturday, September 14, 2002 at the Nessacus Middle School in Dalton. The event is
sponsored by the Lakes and Ponds Association of Western Massachusetts (LAPA - West) and this year
has joined forces with the river advocates in the area to present an all inclusive theme - Appreciating
Your Water Resources . Many fine workshops are planned for the day, including a state of the rivers
panel discussion with representatives from the Connecticut, Farmington, Housatonic, Hoosic,
Deerfield, and Westfield River watersheds. It is an educational and enjoyable experience, not to
mention an opportunity to participate in a raffle for a very fine kayak (replete with paddle and life

As the 50th year of the Westfield River Watershed Association draws nearer to a close, so also does
my term as your President. It has been a most pleasurable and exciting canoe trip - and one that would
not have been possible without the exceptionable support and efforts of the Officers, Directors and the
Team Leader of this Association! I will continue to serve the organization as a member of the Board of
Directors and to support the efforts and goals of the new President. I made watershed education a
cornerstone of my tenure as your president and I am most pleased by the strides we have accomplished
in getting the word out. Thank you all for the opportunity to have served as your president.

Yours in Watersheducation,
C. Mason Maronn

How's the Fish Program Doing?

Michael Parker and Henry Warchol
As you know, the Westfield River Watershed Association has very actively supported the Federal and
State efforts to restore anadromous fish, including the Atlantic salmon, to the Westfield River. With
the construction of the denil fish ladder at DSI in West Springfield in 1995, we have been able to
move fish upstream to access good habitat. Atlantic salmon, American shad, sea lamprey, and
blueback herring use this facility. Resident fish, such as white suckers, bass, and trout, also use the fish
ladder to move back and forth in the river for food and cover. Recently, an eelway was built to get
specific information on eels and move them upstream as well.

In order to help restore salmon, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife annually stocks
approximately 1,000,000 fry (baby fish) in the upper reaches of the river. This is done in early spring
soon after they emerge from eggs in the hatchery. These fry are distributed based on habitat conditions
in the river and tributaries. In order to accomplish this enormous task, volunteers are enlisted to help.
These volunteers include citizens from all walks of life and all ages. On a sunny Saturday in April of
this year, over 24 people, most from WRWA, gathered in Granville to stock Dickinsen and Munn
Brooks. Over 50,000 fry were successfully stocked that day. A week later, over 60 volunteers, many
from WRWA, helped stock the Middle Branch of the Westfield with over 70,000 fish. WRWA
members also stocked fry during the weekdays when state staff was more abundant. Thanks to all who

The Westfield River Watershed Association also actively participates in the Egg to Stream Program
that provides a chiller aquarium for school kids and trains teachers so the classroom can set up the
tank, get salmon eggs, control their development, and stock them when they hatch. This educational
program has been very successful. There are tanks in a few schools in the watershed, with more
anticipated. What a great way to introduce children to environmental science and biodiversity!

The 1,000,000 Atlantic salmon fry live for two years in the river, growing into parr, which are about 5
or 6 inches in length. Many do not survive due to predation from other fish, birds, and mammals.
Some die from other natural causes and competition. Those that do live become more acclimated for
salt water at the end of their second year in the river and move downstream over and through dams and
other obstacles as they head for the ocean. These outmigrating fish are called smolts. After reaching
the ocean in Long Island Sound, they continue migrating to the waters off Greenland where they spend
the next couple of years feeding and growing into adult fish weighing from 10 to 20 pounds.

These fish, which were stocked in the Westfield River by volunteers four years before, now begin their
journey back to the Westfield River. Those that make it to the DSI fish ladder are captured there for
transport to the fish hatchery to begin the process over again. Every tenth adult salmon returning to the
Westfield is transported upstream and released in the river to allow for natural regeneration. While the
numbers of returning Atlantic salmon, to the Westfield and elsewhere in the world, are declining, we
have been seeing an increase in American shad and sea lamprey. These fish are important indicators of
watershed health, and their increase is viewed as a sign that our river is in good shape.

American eels are captured in the new eelway at DSI, counted, sized, and moved upstream. This
project is providing valuable data on this fish to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MADFW). Both the fishway and eelway are
operated by MADFW with the assistance of WRWA members. Henry Warchol has taken the lead on
this for the WRWA and has done an incredible job of helping restore fish to the Westfield River.
This year (2002) returns to DSI are as follows through June 18th: Atlantic Salmon - 5 (worldwide
populations declining), American Shad - 2,716 (weather causing delays in migrating), Blueback
Herring - 4 (Why are these numbers so low?), Sea Lamprey - 2,371 (A RECORD NUMBER!!),
American Eel - 243 (Should see lots more in warmer weather).

Studies abound at the fishway, in addition to the eel research. Shad are being radio-tagged to be
released in Westfield for determining the "Zone of Passage" for fish at the sewer treatment plant in
advance of the expansion project. Blueback herring reproduction is being studied in the Westfield
River above DSI to help determine why we get so few of these valuable food fish back. Other fish,
including lampreys, are occasionally tagged to study migration habits.

The restoration program continues to be the centerpiece of the many WRWA activities. The return of
these fish shows the need to view the Westfield River system as a great connected natural resource,
where what happens in one part of the watershed can affect other parts. As people understand the
value of these programs, they take actions that have a positive effect on our watershed.

October 19th is the Annual WRWA River Cleanup

Volunteers will be needed in October for the WRWA¹s annual Westfield River Cleanup. The event
will again be held in conjunction with the Connecticut River Council¹s Source-to-Sea Cleanup of the
Connecticut River and its major tributaries. The Cleanup will be held Saturday, October 19 from 9:00
am until approximately noon. Work gloves and trash bags will be provided.

We will meet at the WG&E substation at the beginning of the River Walk in Westfield. We will
remove trash and debris from the river, banks, and paths at the River Walk and as many additional
sites as the number of volunteers permits. Contact Carl Grobe at 572-5304 for additional information.
There is no need to preregister unless you are bringing a large group.

Volunteers who are interested in assisting with logistical support on the day of the event are also
needed, and should contact Carl at the number above. Mark your calendars so as not to miss the fun.
Work clothes and sturdy shoes are recommended.  Bring your friends!

Congratulations to Michael Parker

Michael Parker received the Waite Award, an award given annually to a person who helps preserve
and improve the local environment. Mr. Parker, a Watershed Initiative Team Leader for the Westfield
and Farmington River Watersheds, was instrumental in working with citizens toward "Wild and
Scenic" designation for portions of the Westfield River. He helped found LAPA West (Lakes and
Ponds Association of Western Massachusetts). He works tirelessly with these and numerous other
citizens groups in western Massachusetts to secure grants and studies for a variety of environmental
problems and issues. His attention to detail and excellence in how he carries out these efforts are
outstanding qualities that make him effective. Mr. Parker is a resident of Westfield, MA.
Welcome Meeting for New Members
What is a watershed? What is special about the Westfield River Watershed? What does WRWA do?
How can members become involved to improve our watershed? If you are a new member or a long
time member who wants an update, come to our WRWA Welcome Meeting on Monday, September
30th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Westfield Athenaeum (Elm & Court Streets). See a beautiful slide
show of our watershed, meet our Board of Directors and other new members, sign up for activities.
For more information, call our office at 532-7290. 

A Golden Night: Our 50th Annual Dinner Meeting

Kathy Meyer

On June 19 memories of the past and anticipation of the future added to the enjoyment of our 50th
Annual dinner Meeting at Willard¹s in Chester. In his welcoming comments, WRWA President Mason
Maronn recapped highlights of the past year. Seven Past Presidents celebrated this occasion with us
including Howard Mason (1959 - 61), Ken Taylor (1964 - 66), Wes Shephard (1970 - 72), Doug
James (1974 - 76, 84 - 88, 90 -92), Robert Dewey (1976 -77), Rob Bristow (1992 - 94) and Dan
Melien (1999 - 2000). Following a salute to these leaders, we presented a Partnership Award to
Westfield State College for its work with us over the years on the annual river symposium and other
programs. Dr. William Lopes accepted the award on behalf of the college.

A Treasurer's Report by Ken Taylor and a review by the Audit Committee showed WRWA to be
solvent. New Board members elected for next year are Rob Bristow, Dan Call, Mark Damon, Carl
Grobe, Gabe Khatachadourian, Mark Lavioe, Mason Maronn, Kathy Meyer, Dave Pardoe, Ken
Taylor, Henry Warchol, Mike Vorwerk and Mike Young. Our thanks to retiring Board members
George Martin and Phil Hotchkiss. We still need two more Board members, so if you are willing to
serve, contact Mason Maronn.

Michael Parker, Watershed Initiative Team Leader, won the Waite Award for his many contributions
to improving the watershed. The evening concluded with a keynote address by Vincent Dowling who
read the poetry of others as well as his own works and shared some of his personal reflections with us. 

WRWA 50th Anniversary Celebration

Marilyn Bekech

The WRWA 50th anniversary celebration took place at Robinson State Park on June 1st.

After the canoes were in and everybody had chowed down on hotdogs and other picnic goodies, an
intrepid and enthusiastic group of 15 children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 10, accompanied by
equally enthusiastic parents, set out into the wilds of nearby paths in Robby Park led by WRWA
members Mark Damon and Marilyn Bekech. Down by the Little Westfield river we explored the
forest, identifying plants such as skunk cabbage, Jack in the pulpit , Christmas fern, etc., and then let
children do their own exploring (carefully monitored by parents and other accompanying adults) The
kids did better than the biologists, probably because of the eye level factor. For example, I [Marilyn]
was pointing out a shelf fungus growing on a dead tree stump when one of the shorter members of the
group exclaimed "Look at this spider!" Sure enough, there was a spider holed up between the fungus
and the tree.

Later, as Mark scooped up sediment from the river to find organisms to demonstrate, one observant
future ecologist reached down into the sediment and extracted a leech, which turned out to be a major
highlight of the day. Again, while we were turning over rocks in a nearby stream, many interesting
things were found but the highlight occurred when one of the children found a large dragonfly larva.
In every instance the overall experience was enhanced for everybody by letting the children have some
time to explore for themselves. The discovery of the dragonfly larva led to an impromptu discussion of
insect life cycles that fit in perfectly with our last destination - a pond in Robinson Park where adult
dragonflies (which may or may not have been the same species) were flying around and even mating.
As luck would have it, any further discussion of insects or plants (I personally was prepared to show
the difference between sedges and rushes if I needed to fill time!!) was cut short, because: The edges
of the pond contained gazillions of tadpoles!!!! At that point our strategy as leaders of the expedition
became to stand back, assist wherever possible and let the young explorers find things for themselves. 

Recommend a Friend to help WRWA Grow 

Kathy Meyer

Do you know anyone who cares about our local environment? If we think about it, most of us probably
do know at least one friend, relative, neighbor or coworker who is concerned about the environment. If
each current WRWA member could tell just one other person about this organization, we would
double our membership. That¹s the idea behind our "Recommend a Friend" membership drive, which
is part of our 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Simply take the membership form at the end of this newsletter, give it to someone who is not a
WRWA member and tell them a little about what we do. They will enjoy the benefits of WRWA
membership including receiving this newsletter, invitations to our River Symposium and Annual
Dinner, and the satisfaction that comes with helping to protect our beautiful watershed. As added
incentive for the new member, we will give that person free membership for the rest of 2002 so the
dues they send in now will be good through the end of 2003. 

51 Canoes and Kayaks Paddle the Westfield River

Kathy Meyer

Beautiful sunny skies, a moderate temperature of about 80 degrees and run-off from the previous
evening's rain created excellent conditions for 51 canoes and kayaks that paddled the Westfield River
on Saturday June 1. We were hoping to get 50 boats to symbolize each of our 50 years, so we
exceeded our goal. The Westfield Fire Department had their two water rescue craft available, which
fortunately were not needed to assist canoeists. Although a few boats capsized at a tricky bend in the
river with some fallen trees, all seventy one participants in the 51 canoes and kayaks successfully
completed the six mile trip from downtown Westfield to Robinson State Park in Agawam. Unlike the
canoe race held in April on the Westfield River, this is a more leisurely event. Many participants had
not paddled this portion of the river before, so this group event acquainted them with this part of the
Westfield River and many plan to repeat the trip on their own again.

Once they arrived in Robinson State Park, paddlers enjoyed a picnic lunch complete with anniversary
cake. After lunch activities included a nature program for children led by Biologists Marilyn Bekech
and Mark Damon and an adult hike along the Westfield River led by Henry Warchol. In the nature
program, fifteen children shrieked with delight as they smelled skunk cabbage, discovered dragon fly
larva and netted oodles of tadpoles in the ponds and along the banks of the Westfield River in
Robinson State Park. In a separate program, adult hikers who walked a trail along the Westfield River
got a view of the fishway at the DSI/FiberMark dam across the river in West Springfield. Leader
Henry Warchol explained its role in helping migratory fish go up the Westfield River each spring to

So many people stopped to thank us for organizing this event. It was wonderful to see all the smiles
and hear the excitement in their voices as they talked about what they had experienced. WRWA
volunteers who worked to make this event an incredible success included Kathy Meyer, George
Martin, Rob Bristow, Henry Warchol, Dan Call, Mark Damon, Marilyn Bekech, Mike Parker, Ron
Lucassen and Eileen Rannenberg. 

Fishway Open House

Kathy Meyer

Snow, sleet, and freezing rain on May 18? In spite of bizarre weather, about 300 people visited the
WRWA open house at the fish and eelway at DSI/FiberMark. This incredible turnout on such a nasty
day is both a statement of the strong interest people have in the environment and the results of good
organizing by event leader Gabe Khatachadourian. Even though visitors saw only a few fish because
the fish don¹t run in weather this cold, many appreciated the chance to view the fish ladder and learn
about migratory fish in the Westfield River.

Thanks to the following volunteers who braved the elements to make this event possible: Gabe
Khatachadourian, Dan Call, Ken Taylor, Henry Warchol, Mike Parker, Kathy Meyer, Ron Lucassen
and Ken Epstein, who generously used his van as a shuttle. (Ken, we hope you got the mud out of your
van by now!) 

Mapping Trails in the WRW

Matthew DelMonte

Students at Holyoke Community College and Westfield State College have been mapping public
access trails within the Westfield River Watershed with global positioning systems (GPS) for use
within a Geographic Information System (GIS). HCC students began collecting information and
mapping trails in the ten Wild and Scenic designated towns of the watershed in the summer of 2001.
This mapping effort is the first phase of a project organized by the Westfield River Wild and Scenic
Advisory Committee and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC).

Mapping efforts at Westfield State College began this Spring with a grant from the Massachusetts
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA). Efforts at WSC are focused on the lower eight
municipalities within the watershed. The lower trails inventory will soon be available on the Westfield
River Watershed Interactive Atlas site. 

Fall 2002

The President's Message

Dear Westfield River Watershed members and supporters:
In mid-October more than 100 volunteers helped collect trash from along the Westfield River in
Westfield, Huntington, and Russell. Thanks to all of you who participated in that annual effort, and
thanks to Carl Grobe and Kathy Meyer who did much of the organizational work and publicity,
respectively. In recent years the cleanup has often marked the end of obvious WRWA activity until
spring, but that doesn't mean there's nothing going on! This is the time of year for planning and
preparation. The Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program (ASERP) will be growing to involve three
watershed schools next year: Memorial Elementary School in West Springfield, the South Middle
School in Westfield, and the Gateway Regional Middle School in Huntington. WRWA loans each
class a 30-gallon aquarium tank, filter system, chiller, and lots of smaller equipment that's used for
monitoring and feeding the salmon fry after they've hatched. During the next few weeks we'll be
purchasing equipment, cutting and fitting insulation for the tanks, and completing a number of other
tasks to make sure the program schools have what they'll need next spring.

The Board of Directors is also looking for funding opportunities for next year. I've just written a letter
supporting the Connecticut River Watershed Council's application for a large EPA grant to improve
water quality in the Connecticut River and its tributaries. If CRWC is successful in obtaining that
money, WRWA plans to seek funding from them for the cleanup of several sites along the lower
River, sites that are more heavily impacted than those we usually deal with during the October
cleanup. The Board has also recently formed three standing committees, focusing on Membership,
Education, and Stewardship issues. The first item on each committee's agenda is to evaluate past
activities and brainstorm new ways that the organization might accomplish its goals in each of those
areas. Committee chairs are Kathy Meyer (Membership), Mike Young (Education), and Michael
Vorwerk (Stewardship). If there are issues or opportunities that you think we should be aware of, or if
you'd be interested in serving on one of the committees, please contact the corresponding chair. We've
also begun to plan for next spring's River Symposium, which will be the ninth annual such event. For
those who thrive on advance planning, the date will be March 29, 2003. As usual, we're expecting to
provide some interesting speakers and a variety of exhibits during the morning, and an optional field
trip or two during the early afternoon. 

So, beneath that apparently inactive surface, there's a lot going on with WRWA. And that means that,
as usual, we have volunteer opportunities for anyone with a little free time on their hands. Please
consider helping out, whether it's by becoming a classroom liaison for the ASERP program, serving on
one of the standing committees, or providing help with mailings. It's only with the help of volunteers
like you that we'll be able to have the kind of positive impact on our watershed for which we hope.

Mike Young

Moving On
by Michael Parker
Former Watershed Team Leader
Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs

Well, I've been putting retirement off long enough. September 30th was my last day on the job as
Watershed Team Leader in the Farmington and Westfield Rivers for the Massachusetts Executive
Office of Environmental Affairs. It's been about five years since I began this wonderful run of helping
bring federal, state, and local officials together with citizens, businesses, and citizens groups to better
protect and manage the natural resources in the area.

There have been many opportunities for local people to meet and work with us over this span. I have
enjoyed doing the workshops, fairs, symposiums, newsletters, team meetings, etc. Working together
we have accomplished a lot. But there is much more to do, and I urge you to work closely with my
successor to continue to improve our environment.

We have been able to help communities, state agencies, and environmental groups economically and
structurally do a better job. The Watershed Team got funding for many projects, including a pollution
study in the lower Westfield River, erosion and sediment control at Robinson State Park in Agawam,
an eelway at the DSI fishway in West Springfield, water quality improvements at Pequot Pond in
Westfield and Southampton, open space protection in the Hilltowns, and endangered species habitat

Looking ahead, we are asking for funding to help, among other things, continue local community level
open space planning, manage the Wild and Scenic River sections, study fish and mussels for habitat
availability, prepare a long term plan for the watershed, and assist local forest landowners to better
manage and protect this valuable resource.

The key to all of these successes is the involvement of citizens as volunteers. Without your help, the
Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program would be unable to work. The eelway and fishway at DSI would
not be adequately staffed with the result of valuable data lost and fish not migrating upstream.
Volunteers have helped clean the river and plan open space protection in their town. You have made
my job easier and mostly fun. Please continue to get involved with the Westfield River Watershed
Association and the Watershed Team. You do make a difference!

Focus for FY'04

Massachusetts Watershed Initiative

Westfield River Watershed Team Leader Report

by John O'Leary (413) 532-4450

State fiscal year'04 begins on July 1 of 2003. Before Mike Parker retired he and the team decided on
the Watershed Priority Projects they would submit for funding in FY04, through the Massachusetts
Watershed Initiative. We won't know if they are funded until next spring, but I want to bring them to
your attention now, since they involve the WRWA to a great extent. Project 1: The development of a
five-year Action Plan for the Westfield River Watershed Team. This five-year plan will guide our
activity and focus on problems we think we can address over the next five years. Your input will be
critical as we develop the plan next summer and fall. Project 2: A second year of funding for the
Westfield River Wild and Scenic intern. This position supports the activities of the Wild and Scenic
group by getting out the meeting notices, minutes, and generally coordinating the logistics for this
volunteer organization. Project 3: Community Open Space and Recreation Plans for Washington and
Windsor. Cities and Towns that have developed these plans and have them approved by the state are
eligible to apply for various sources of funds to protect open space within their community. Project 4:
Support for the Westfield River Watershed Symposium. This symposium has become a major venue
for sharing environmental information throughout the watershed. Funds are needed to provide the
logistical support for the event. Project 5: Stream Team Development and Implementation. Support for
this project gets us access to a staff person from the Riverways Program to help interested folks in the
watershed put together a Stream Team. The Stream Team would focus on a stream or segment of the
Westfield River that they have a particular interest in. They would survey the stream, report on their
findings and develop a plan of future work to address problems they identified. Project 6: Support for
the Western Massachusetts Water Resources Symposium. The Westfield River Watershed Team
would join with the Farmington River, Hudson and Housatonic River Watershed Teams in providing
funding for the logistical support to hold this annual event. This meeting brings together Lake and
Pond Associations, Watershed Associations, other nonprofit resource groups along with the state and
federal resource agencies to share information through formal presentations and poster sessions. If you
have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me. 

Westfield River Cleanup A Dirty Delight

by Carl Grobe
Member of the Board of Directors, and
Chair of the Cleanup Committee

A beautiful fall morning greeted volunteers at our annual Westfield River Cleanup on Saturday,
October 19. This year, we organized cleanups in two locations: our usual cleanup in Westfield
centered at the River Walk, and a second meeting site in Huntington. More than 100 volunteers turned
out to collect debris at the two locations! A heart-felt THANK YOU is in order to all of our volunteers
and organizers! We removed approximately 150 garbage-bags full of debris from the river and its
banks that included glass, bottles, cans, paper, wood, discarded clothing, and many other types of
trash. In addition, a number of tires, pieces of furniture, a derby car, several car doors, and the remains
of a metal drum were removed from the area. Our volunteers also returned with a few pairs of damp
socks, some good old-fashioned mud and grime, and quite a bit of hard-earned sweat.

Special thanks are due to the Westfield Department of Public Works, who removed all of the debris
collected by our volunteers. Generous donations by the Westfield Wal-Mart provided gloves, trash
bags, and drinks for all of our volunteers. In addition, Chad's Good Table Restaurant in Westfield
provided two-for-one tickets to our volunteers to thank them for their hard work. Many thanks to all
for their support! For the fourth year, our local cleanup was coordinated with the Connecticut River
Source-to-Sea Cleanup. This larger effort involves volunteers in a multi-state effort to clean the
Connecticut River and its major tributaries. Both the regional and local efforts show that volunteers
can make a difference in protecting and preserving our precious river resources.

The Westfield River Cleanup is an annual event that takes place in October of each year. If you are
interested in participating next year, mark your interest on your annual membership application form.
We also publicize the cleanup with local announcements in local newspapers, on flyers posted in local
businesses and establishments around town, and right here in the Watershed News announcements. 

New Members' Meeting

by Kathy Meyer

On September 30, board members acquainted new WRWA members with our organization by
presenting a slide show of the Westfield River Watershed and explaining upcoming WRWA events.
Ten new members attended this program and a few volunteered for the river clean-up and to serve on
committees. We look forward to seeing our new members at the symposium and other future events. 

Watershed Enemies

The European Water Chestnut (Trapa natans)

by Matthew DelMonte
The European Water Chestnut is an aquatic, non-native, invasive species common to shallow
freshwater streams and ponds in Massachusetts -including our own watershed. Aquatic invasive
species pose a serious threat to water resources. These non-native plants have few natural controls and
have great potential for rapid colonization. The European Water Chestnut significantly impacts the
biodiversity of aquatic habitats in our watershed by shading out native plants and offering very little
value to wildlife. This is not the same water chestnut used in oriental cuisine. Water chestnut is a
rooted plant with both submerged and floating leaves. Floating leaves form a rosette shape and the
plant stem resembles a thick string. The water chestnut reproduces by very sharp, spine-like seeds.
Seed dispersal is aided by drifting parts and water fowl. Destroying one seed can actually prevent the
growth of over 100 new plants. Controlling the water chestnut is very difficult and early detection is
vital. Small populations of the plant can be hand-pulled while larger ones may require mechanical
harvesters or herbicides. Once removed, plants should be disposed of away from water. Complete
eradication can take years and, in large ponds, may never be achieved. Many states, including
Massachusetts, have laws prohibiting the distribution of the water chestnut. Report sightings of this
plant to U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials or to the state DEM. 

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