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Spring 2003

The President's Message

Dear Westfield River Watershed members and supporters:

Spring has traditionally been the busiest time of year for WRWA, and 2003 has been no
exception. Our 9th annual River Symposium was held in late March at Westfield State, and
attracted about 140 participants. Board members Mark Damon, Carl Grobe and Kathy Meyer did
a great job of putting together and advertising the program, which focused on open space issues.
The Atlantic Salmon Egg Rearing Program has been in full swing, and salmon fry stocking with
the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife occupied several weeks from mid-April through mid-
May. Henry Warchol has been organizing volunteers to staff the West Springfield fish ladder this
spring, a necessity in this year of state budget deficits. By the time this newsletter reaches your
mailbox, the Annual Meeting will likely have passed, and there will be a few new faces on the
Board of Directors. The flurry of activity is exhilarating and showcases our organization at its
best working to preserve and restore the watershed and to help educate area residents about the
region's resources and issues that may impact those resources.

One of our top priorities for the next year is to increase our level of activity throughout the other
seasons. You'll find some movement in that direction later in this newsletter - in addition to our
traditional early June canoe cruise on the Westfield River, we've added a botany walk in Stanley
Park with WSC biology professor Dave Lovejoy, and an outing to the Keystone Arch Bridges in
Chester led by Dave Pierce (who's been instrumental in organizing the Friends of the Keystone
Arches). We're planning to have a couple of informational evening programs in the fall and to
continue expanding our offerings of outdoor events as well. As always, your support is essential
to the success of these endeavors. Please join us for one or more of these events, let Board
members know about the kinds of programs you'd like to see, and tell your friends about events
they might be interested in. Between newsletters you can keep up-to-date on upcoming events by
checking our web site (, which has been moved to a commercial host
and should now be available 99.9% of the time.

Of course, getting out into the watershed on your own is always an option! To help you find
good places to visit in the area, Dan Call has recently supervised the publication of an updated
version of WRWA's River User's Guide. The Guide lists recreational and cultural sites within the
watershed, and an on-line version (not yet updated) is also available at our web site. To get a
paper copy, leave me a message at the WRWA office (532-7290) or send an email to Enjoy the warmer weather!


Mike Young

A Look Back At The Future:
The Ninth Annual Westfield River
by Carl Grobe, WRWA Board Member

I hope that all of our members and readers of the Newsletter were able to attend our ninth annual
Westfield River Symposium on March 29. The theme of the symposium this year was "A Look
at the Future: Water Resources and Open Space."

The Symposium is always an outstanding opportunity to learn about our fabulous local river and
its extensive watershed. It is also an opportunity to meet people who are working to preserve and
improve this natural treasure and resource that is, literally for many of us, in our own back yard.

The Symposium began with a keynote address by Richard Evans entitled "Is Forever Forever?"
Richard discussed some of the legal aspects of land protection. The keynote address was
followed by a total of nine concurrent speaker sessions on topics including the restoration of
Yokum Brook, Westfield's open space plan, mapping the watershed, and the PVPC's open space
plan for the entire Watershed. All of the presentations that I was able to attend were outstanding,
and I was disappointed that I was unable to attend them all. Between presentations at the
sessions, the 138 attendees were able to view more than twenty displays on river- and watershed-
related topics ranging from beaver trapping to birding and salmon restoration to nature
photography. Included among the organizations with displays were the Trustees of Reservations,
Trout Unlimited, the American Chestnut Foundation, Friends of the Keystone Arches, both the
U.S. and Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Services, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the
Westfield River Watershed Association, and the Winding River Land Conservancy.

Following the sessions and displays, there was a choice of two field trips in the afternoon. These
were a trip to the West Parish Filters with Ralph Tarnauskas or a look at protected lands in the
Westfield area led by Mark Noonan. The weather obligingly cleared and was pleasant for both of
these trips. As it has been for several previous years, the entire program was free to all attendees.

We hope that you all enjoyed the Symposium this year. If you were unable to attend this year's
Symposium, you missed an informative day of activities, displays, and presentations. We hope to
see everyone again (or for the first time) next year!

Over 500 Attend Fishway Open House

by Kathy Meyer, WRWA Membership Chair
A combination of sunshine and warm weather brought over 500 people to WRWA's annual open
house of the fish ladder and eelway at FibreMark in West Springfield on Sunday, May 18. Don
Humason, WRWA member and State Representative, was among those who toured the fish
ladder. Many people were surprised to know that the fishway even exists, since it is hidden
away. They were very impressed with the operation of the fishway, which allows passage of
adult fish returning to spawn in the Westfield River, and with the beauty of the river and it
cascades over the damn at this site.

Although not many fish were passing through the ladder that day due to below freezing
temperatures the previous evening, we did see some shad and numerous birds were on hand,
including nesting Canada Geese. Special thanks to Gabe Khatchadourian for doing an
outstanding job of organizing this event , Caleb Slater of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries
and Wildlife for coming to help us out, and to all the WRWA members who helped guide
visitors including Mike Young, Ken Taylor, Matthew DelMonte, Henry Warchol, Joan Pearsons,
Ron Lucassen, and Ken Epstein. 

Congratulations to Henry Warchol

Henry Warchol received the Waite Award, an award given annually to a person who helps
preserve and improve the local environment. Henry was presented the award at the WRWA
Annual meeting on May 15th. Henry is the secretary of the Westfield River Watershed
Association and lifelong watershed resident. He is considered a local expert on the watershed's
history and trail systems. He works tirelessly to promote the Atlantic Salmon restoration program
and spends countless hours monitoring the fishway in West Springfield during migratory fish
runs. His efforts and life-long dedication are outstanding qualities that make Henry an asset to
the Westfield River Watershed. Congratulations and Thank You Henry! 

Upcoming Events
Biodiversity Days Botany Walk (May 31, 2003 - 10:30 a.m.)

Join Westfield State College (WSC) biologist Dave Lovejoy for a walk along some of the trails
in the Frank Stanley Beveridge Wildlife Sanctuary at Stanley Park in Westfield. These trails
provide a diversity of habitats including old field, marsh, swamp, streamside, and upland wooded
sites. Emphasis will be on the plants. Meet by the Stanley Park tennis courts (western entrance to
the park off Western Ave.) for this roughly 2-hour exploration. Contact Dave Lovejoy (572-
5307) for more information.

Canoe Cruise (June 7, 2003)

Join WRWA on Saturday, June 7th to paddle the 6 mile stretch of the Westfield River from
downtown Westfield to the Robinson State Park in West Springfield! 

Registration will be from 12:00 to 1:00 at the river access on the south side of the Great River
Bridge in Westfield. A $5/person fee will be required for non-members to cover the cost of
insurance. Contact Michael Vorwerk (572-5305) for more information.

Keystone Arch Bridges Walk (June 21, 2003)

Join Dave Pierce, the local expert on the history of the Keystone Arches in Chester, for an
approximately 3-hour walk to visit at least two of these mid-1800s railroad bridges. We'll meet at
10 a.m. on Saturday June 21st at the railroad station in Chester (just a block north of Rt. 20 on
Main St. - a bit beyond Abijah Willard's restaurant), then carpool to the starting point a couple of
miles away. 

With luck, this should be near the peak of the mountain laurel season in addition to being the
first day of summer! Bring water and a lunch and dress for the weather. This is a moderate walk,
suitable for most. A $5/person donation will be requested to help with efforts to preserve the
bridges. For more information, contact Mike Young at 572-5741.

Summer 2003
The President's Message
Dear Westfield River Watershed members and supporters:

In a year of generally dismal budgetary news, I was encouraged recently that the state legislature
overrode Governor Romney's veto of funding for the Massachusetts Riverways program. This
small program has been very successful in attracting grant monies for river protection and
restoration programs in the state. They were instrumental in coordinating the removal of the Silk
Mill and Ballou Dams on Yokum Brook in Becket this past winter/spring, and will be involved
in a culvert replacement project (funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) in the East Branch
watershed over the next couple of years. More information is available through their website
On a more local level, an issue was brought to our attention recently and nearly simultaneously
by several sources. The problem is a dramatic increase in the accumulation of litter at several of
the turnouts from Rt. 20 along the main stem of the Westfield River in Russell and Huntington.
Although one of the turnouts has a gazebo and picnic tables, none of them have litter barrels at
present. Kathy Meyer, our first Vice President, has taken the lead in doing some cleanup work
and in contacting the Conservation Commissions in both towns. The situation is rather
complicated since the MA Highway Department is responsible for the turnouts, while the MA
Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is responsible for the land along the river. One suggestion has
been to limit the parking time at the turnouts to 30 minutes, but this has the disadvantage of
discouraging access to the river by fishermen and boaters. Among a number of other possible
solutions, we've considered trying to institute an "Adopt a Turnout" program, similar to those
being operated along many highway segments. The idea would be that a person or group would
take responsibility for cleaning up trash at a particular turnout on a regular basis, at least during
the spring-fall seasons. If you'd be interested in adopting a site, please contact me. In any case,
we're planning to include some of those sites in our list of places to clean during the annual River
Cleanup, which will be held on October 4 this year.

The River Cleanup has traditionally been our major fall event, but you'll find opportunities for
some other volunteer activities (stream connectivity surveying) and some chances to simply get
out and enjoy the watershed in the pages of this newsletter. We hope that you'll be able to join
us. And, as always, check our website for additional information and
programs as they are scheduled.


Mike Young

WRWA Audit
The WRWA Audit Committee of Robert Bristow, Gabe Khatchadourian, and Mike Young met
twice in May to reconcile WRWA's accounts for 2002. In addition to balancing the books, the
group tallied up expenditures by category to better assess where our money is being spent. An
immediate result was the transfer of our long distance phone account to another carrier, saving
about $100 per year. A special thanks goes to Laurie Padykula, a local CPA who volunteered
several hours of her time to help us produce a much more professional audit. Members may
request a copy of WRWA's financials from our treasurer Ken Taylor. 

Botany Walk
On Saturday, May 31 about 15 people joined biologist Dave Lovejoy for a walk through Stanley
Park. Despite a cold and the threat of impending rain, Dave shared his vast knowledge of the
region's botany for more than 2 hours as we wandered toward the Little River section of the park.
Dozens of plant species (including trees, shrubs and wildflowers) along with a few species of
mammals and birds were tallied and the list was submitted to the Biodiversity Days data base.
Thanks to Dave for leading the walk and fielding so many questions.

Keystone Arches Bridges Walk

Fifteen people enjoyed a fascinating walk along the Keystone Arches Bridges Trail led by David
Pierce of Friends of the Keystone Arches on June 21. Dave is a local expert on the Bridges and
helped build the trail that leads to these magnificent structures. The Arches Bridges are railroad
bridges that were designed in 1836 by Maj. George Washington Whistler Whistler's Father - no
kidding!) and are part of the first stretch of railroad crossing a mountain. Techniques developed
here made crossing the Rocky Mountains possible 30 years later. The Keystone Arches Bridges
are in amazingly good condition, considering that they are 170 years old. The Bridges cross a
spectacular section of the West Branch of the Westfield River, a portion of the river that has
"Wild & Scenic" status, so the scenery is awesome with some of the Bridges towering 80 feet
over the river. If you missed this wonderful walk, you can get a map from Friends of Keystone
Arches, PO Box 276, Huntington, MA 01050. (Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope) .
Railroad lovers, local history buffs, and hikers would all enjoy this trail. The total round-trip
distance is about 5.5 miles. 

Stream Connectivity Workshop

Streams provide habitat for many organisms and also provide natural corridors for the movement
of others. The construction of bridges and culverts may cause fragmentation of fish habitat,
leading to the isolation of populations and, in some cases, local extinction of species. These
barriers may also affect species that move along the stream corridor.

On Saturday, June 21 about 15 people attended a morning workshop on surveying local bridges
and culverts to assess their impact on wildlife. The workshop was led by F.M. Walk of the
UMass Extension Office and involved instruction in the use of a survey instrument developed by
researchers at UMass. Late in the morning the group went out to a site along Loomis Road in
Westfield for a "hands-on" experience in filling out the form, and many of the participants spent
much of the afternoon continuing the survey along Munn Brook and its tributaries. In all, about
50 structures were surveyed. Ultimately, WRWA and other groups, hope to survey the entire
Westfield River watershed, with a view toward identifying those structures that produce the most
significant fragmentation. With that knowledge, we plan to lobby town and state DPWs to
replace or modify those structures - restoring much of the stream connectivity that originally
existed within the watershed. Another surveying Saturday is planned for September 27, with
initial assembly at Westfield State College. Contact Mike Young (572-5741) for information.

Our thanks to Carrie Banks of the Westfield River Wild & Scenic Advisory Committee and to
Alison Bowden of the Nature Conservancy, who helped to organize the event. Thanks also to
WRWA members Thomas Eaton, James Jensen, Marj Lehan, Leon Polthier and Alex Trzasko
who participated in the surveying. Finally, thanks to Amy Reifsnyder who reported on the
project for the Country Journal.

Atlantic Salmon and the Westfield River

by Henry Warchol

The first barrier on the Westfield River for the Atlantic salmon is the DSI Fibermark
dam in West Springfield. The fishway (fish ladder) at the dam is now seven years old.
Before the fishway was built, any salmon held back by the dam were netted and
transferred to a hatchery for reproducing the great numbers needed for restoration.
Presently the salmon are trapped at the fishway and are transferred to the hatchery.
Once the eggs hatch as fry, they are distributed in the upper main stem of the river and
in its many tributaries. After spending 2+ years in the river and 2+ years in the
Atlantic, they return to where they were deposited.

Because of this years State budget shortfall, the fishway lost its funding to monitor
and trap salmon. Caleb Slater, who is in charge of the salmon restoration project for
the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, was looking for ways to staff
the fishway in West Springfield. The WRWA decided to help in this endeavor. I
volunteered to attempt the recruiting of volunteers for the task. A great-dedicated
group of volunteers came on board and put in many hours of monitoring. This year 6
salmon (one more then last year), more than 1,730 American shad, 320 sea lamprey, 5
blueback herring, 1613 white suckers, 116 smallmouth bass, 58 brown trout and 26
tiger trout used the fishway to travel upstream. 

The WRWA gives many thanks to the list of dedicated, conscientious and concerned
volunteers. Trout Unlimited members Rex Hryniewicz, Alexander Hindmarsh, John
Sinton, Stan Gula, Ted Ziskowski and Ken Witek; WRWA and AMC members Leon
Pothier, Dario Masciadrelli, Diane Crowell, John Murphy, Pat Fletcher, Ronald
Lucassen, Tom Eaton and Detrich Schlobohm. Stan Gula who is the editor for the
local Trout Unlimited newsletter has great photos of salmon that came up the fishway
on his web site ( a worthwhile visit. You may wish to read the July
2003 issue of National Geographic for additional reading on the restoration of the
Atlantic salmon. 
Board Welcomes New Members
Tom Condon (Russell), Norm Brown (Westfield), and Eileen Rannenberg (Agawam) were
elected to serve on WRWA's Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting in May. The Wild &
Scenic Committee may also be designating one of their members to serve on our Board. We
welcome these new board members and look forward to working with them. We also want to
thank "retiring" board members Mark LaVoie and C. Mason Maronn for their service on our

Watershed Flora and Fauna:

Sea Lamprey
If you spent even a brief moment viewing the table of fish counts on page 3 of the text version of
this newsletter, you may have noticed a very large number of sea lamprey. So what exactly are
sea lamprey?

Sea Lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) are grey to black, parasitic eel-like fish native to
Massachusetts, the North Atlantic Ocean, and many of its tributaries. These fish are jawless and
can grow to be 3 feet long. Sea lampreys are also predaceous and, unlike eels, feed on large fish.
There are two types of sea lamprey: anadromous, and those restricted to fresh water river

Prior to the construction of dams in the mid-1800s, these fish were common to virtually every
river and stream in the Commonwealth. Dams blocked the migration routes of the lamprey and
the industrial pollution often destroyed or altered their habitat. The recent construction of
fishways for anadromous fish has allowed these eel-like fish to return to the Westfield and
Connecticut River basins.

Sea lampreys are parasitic and live by sucking the body fluids out of a host species. This is done
using a disk-like suction mechanism that houses teeth and a grasping tongue. The host fish will
often struggle to survive, but is often left dead or dying. Experts estimate that a landlocked sea
lamprey can kill as mush as 18 pounds of fish in the course of its life.

In many parts of the country, especially the Great Lakes region, the sea lamprey is an exotic
species and is considered a major cause of loss of biodiversity.
Source: An Annotated Working List of the Inland Fishes of Massachusetts. By K.E. Hartel, D.B.
Halliwell, and A.E. Launer 

Upcoming Events
Supplemental River Clean-up (Sep 20, 2003 - 9:00 a.m.)

Meet at the southeast end of the Great River Bridge (where Rt. 10/202 cross the Westfield River
just north of the center of town) at 9:00 a.m. The plan is to send smaller groups out to cleanup
particular areas, especially along Rt. 20 west of Westfield. Contact Gabe Khatchadourian (568-
3005) for more information.

Stream Connectivity Surveying (Sep 27, 2003 - 9:00 a.m.)

We're planning to do surveying of culverts and bridges along one of the tributaries of
the Westfield River, probably in the Huntington area. We'll meet at Westfield State
College initially, spend a little time familiarizing newcomers with the survey forms,
then go out into the watershed in groups of two or three to do the surveying.
Contact Mike Young (572-5741) for more information.

Annual Source-to-the-Sea River Clean-up (Oct 4, 2003 - 9:00 a.m.)

Meet at the southeast end of the Great River Bridge (where Rt. 10/202 cross the
Westfield River just north of the center of town) at 9:00 a.m for WRWA's annual
participation in the Source-to-the-Sea cleanup of the Connecticut River and its
tributaries. We'll be cleaning along the Riverwalk in Westfield and, if there are
enough volunteers, at other locations in Westfield and along Rt. 20 to the West.
Contact Gabe Khatchadourian (568-3005) for more information.

AMC Noble View Hike (Oct 11, 2003 - 10:00 a.m.)

Hike from AMC Noble View Camp into the Springfield - Cobble Mountain Westfield
River watershed area exploring old stone farmhouse foundations and stop at several
lookouts over the valley. The destination will be a brick kiln that was used for
gunpowder manufacturing or possibly for producing heating fuel for the well to-do. It
will make for a pleasant day with foliage at the peak. The hike takes place on
Saturday, October, 11, 2003 at 10:00 am; 4 miles, leisurely pace, terrain average with
some uphill. A trail use fee is required. Call leader Gary Forish 562-6792 for details.
Our Land: Going, Going, Gone (Oct 15, 2003 - 7:30 p.m.)

This program is perhaps one of the most important ever presented by the Springfield
Naturalists Club and should be of interest to every person concerned about nature and
the outdoors. Bob Wilber, Director of Land Protection for Mass Audubon, will
discuss the urgent need to protect critical wildlife and plant habitat in the
Commonwealth. We are currently losing 16,000 acres of land (44 acres per day) to
development. Sprawl is increasing at an alarming rate. The nature of Massachusetts as
we know it is very much at risk. There is a narrowing window of 10 to 15 years to do
"meaningful conservation" in Massachusetts. After this time the amount of land
fragmented by development will make meaningful conservation and protection
virtually impossible. Utilizing a dynamic power point presentation, Bob will explore
this problem, and provide information on how ordinary citizens can help preserve the
plants, animals, and natural resources of our state.

This is a must see program for all nature, outdoor recreation and land conservation
groups. The presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 15, in the
Fine Arts Museum Auditorium, at the Quadrangle in Springfield. For more
information or travel directions call Dietrich Schlobohm at (413) 788-4125. 

Sanderson Brook Falls and Beyond (Oct 18, 2003 - 9:00 a.m.)

Sanderson Brook Falls is one of the most spectacular falls in the Westfield River
watershed. Join Tom Condon for a relaxing walk along the brook as we gradually
ascend to this magnificent sight. After a short break to enjoy the sights and sounds,
we'll continue our hike to one of the best views of the watershed by ascending some
old gravel roads to the top of the H. Newman Marsh Memorial Trail. Here a series of
overlooks offers outstanding views of the valley. We'll finally descend the steep H.
Newman Marsh Memorial Trail back to the parking lot. This is the most rugged part
of the trip and a good, sturdy pair of boots and perhaps a walking stick is suggested.
Total distance of the hike is about 3.5 miles bring a lunch, plenty of water, and
raingear. Heavy rains cancel. Meet at the Sanderson Brook Falls parking area off Rt.
20 in Chester (across from Bannish Lumber). Please call Tom (564-0895) to sign up.

Wild & Scenic Celebration (Oct 18, 2003)

The Westfield River Wild and Scenic Advisory Committee is planning to hold a trail
work/dedication for the East Branch Trail on Saturday October 18th. There will be a
hike as part of this event to give people a tour of the area. Please contact Carrie Banks
at (413)773-5031 or river_banks@hotmail.comfor more information.

October Mountain in November (Nov 2, 2003 - 9:00 a.m.)

Join us for an early November hike along the gently rolling hills of October Mountain
State Forest. After running a car shuttle, we'll start our hike off County Road (gravel)
in Beckett (5 miles from Route 8). We'll then hike the Appalachian Trail to the
picturesque Finerty Pond. If a bit of fall color still survives this pond is a real delight.
The trail is relatively gentle through this section of the forest. We'll then begin a
gradual ascent of both Becket (2,180 ft.) and Walling (2,220 ft.) Mountains. Although
the summits are forested, the open woods in the area makes for a very pleasant fall
hike as the newly fallen leaves pad our steps beats raking them. The total distance of
the hike is 5.5 miles. Bring a lunch, plenty of water, raingear and good hiking boots.
Heavy rains cancel. Meet at the Westfield State College commuter parking lot off
Western Avenue. Please call Tom (564-0895) to sign up.

Fall 2003
The President's Message
Dear Westfield River Watershed members and supporters:

This fall the WRWA Board has begun a more active search for grant opportunities. A starting
point is to decide what kinds of projects we'd like to work on, then to search for funding agencies
whose missions match well with those projects. Our initial efforts have been directed toward
finding funding for storm drain stenciling programs throughout the Watershed. The goal is to
decrease the volume of pollutants entering our rivers through local storm drain systems - which
almost always drain directly into nearby streams, without being treated in any way. The program
involves painting simple stencils onto the pavement near storm drains, typically with a text
message like "Dump No Waste - Drains to River". In conjunction with the stenciling, we plan to
distribute flyers to homes in the vicinity of the storm drains being stenciled - informing residents
about the program and making sure that they understand the undesirable consequences of
dumping oil, antifreeze, pesticides or other household materials into those storm drains. This
program would provide a great volunteer opportunity for scouts or church youth groups. If you
know of such a group that might be interested in helping out, please let me know.

We've also learned that The Nature Conservancy has been awarded a 3-year grant to collect
information on stream crossings and dams within the Watershed, and to begin to address some of
the stream continuity issues raised by those structures. Many culverts, for example, pose barriers
to the movement of fish and other small animals as a result of inlet or outlet drops that are too
high to navigate. During surveys in June and September a number of WRWA members and other
volunteers gathered information on roughly 100 structures - dimensions of culverts, the extent to
which they modify stream flow, continuity of substrate through the culverts, and photographs!
Each structure typically takes 15 minutes or so to evaluate. With more than 1,000 of these sites
within the Watershed, this project will require considerable volunteer effort. If you have any
interest in participating, give me a call at 572-5741 - we're hoping to continue the surveying
through the fall and early winter. The Nature Conservancy grant provides funds for producing
the needed GIS maps, for entering the information collected into a database and prioritizing the
various stream crossings, and for remediation of some of the higher priority sites. This is a great
opportunity to get directly involved in a project that will have measurable positive effects on our

I'll keep you posted on our efforts to attract funding for Watershed projects, and hope that you'll
find time during the coming months to attend one of the indoor or outdoor programs described in
this newsletter.

Happy Holidays,

Mike Young

Winter Outings
by Tom Condon

Join WRWA Board Member Tom Condon and The Zoo in Forest Park Director of Education
Nancy Condon on adventures in and around the Westfield River Watershed. Learn more about
the natural history and explore methods of preserving of this great natural resource.

Cross-Country Skiing at Knightville Wildlife Area - Sunday, January 18: Pray for snow
Saturday night and then throw your skis in the car Sunday morning for a trip along the Westfield
River above Knightville Dam. We will ski (or walk if there¹s no snow) in along old Montgomery
Road and up into the Indian Hollow area. We¹ll stop and explore the area, looking for signs of
wildlife in the valley. This is a beginners skiing trip, so expect to go 2 to 3 miles on open, flat

Meet at am at the commuter parking lot at Westfield State College. We¹ll car pool up to the gated
road. Expect to return about noon. Please watch the weather forecast the night before and dress
appropriately. Layers of synthetics or wool blends are the best. Bring a small pack to stow your
shed layers, a small snack, and plenty of water. You might throw in a thermos of hot cocoa too.
Call Tom or Nancy at 564 0895 to pre-register for the trip or with any questions. 

A Day on the Pond Sunday - Sunday, February 15: Have you ever stood along the shore of a
frozen pond and thought about what¹s going on under that ice? If so, have we got a trip for you!
Grab up that old pair of skates or your boots with the stickiest soles and come join us at Russell
Pond. This beautiful 400 acre pond will be our living laboratory as we explore the ecology and
physics of a freshwater pond in the winter. We will criss-cross the pond, stopping to peer beneath
the ice for signs of life, visit a stream with its oxygen-rich waters feeding the lake, and explore a
beaver dam. We will also step up into the surrounding forest to discuss how outside factors
influence this ecosystem. If ice conditions are unsafe for travel across the pond, we will still be
able to explore from its shoreline.

We¹ll start our trip at 10 am at the Russell Pond Town Beach just off General Knox Road in
Russell. Expect to return about 1 pm. Please watch the weather forecast the night before and
dress appropriately. Layers of synthetics or wool blends are the best. Bring a small pack to stow
your shed layers, a small lunch, and plenty of water. You might throw in a thermos of hot cocoa
too. Call Tom or Nancy at 564 0895 to pre-register for the trip or with any questions.

Hubbard Brook, Granville State Forest - Sunday, March 28: Come join the club for a stroll
along one of the prettiest little brooks in Western Mass. Here the spring run off cascades over
numerous small falls as the water tumbles down a heavily forested hillside. Along the trip, we¹ll
stop and discuss the power of water to shape the watersheds in which we live. We¹ll also look for
signs of an early (we hope) awakening spring. Meet at the Brooks Shopping Plaza in Southwick
at 9 am. Expect to return about 1 pm. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring a small pack
to stow your shed layers, a small lunch, and plenty of water. Call Tom or Nancy at 564-0895 to
pre-register for the trip or with any questions. 

Westfield River Watershed

Temperature Monitoring Program
by Michael Vorwerk

Students at Westfield State College, under the guidance of WRWA board member and Westfield
State College faculty member Michael Vorwerk, are conducting research on river temperatures
in the Westfield River watershed. Nine undergraduate students are studying river temperatures to
determine the suitability of the watershed for salmon habitat (in regards to temperature), and the
effects of development on river temperatures. To carry out the study, students are using 23 Onset
Instruments Hobo temperature loggers. The loggers have been deployed through much of the
watershed since spring.
Students George Durante, Adam Cote, and Gary Krasinski are studying the effects of Route 9 on
the river. Route 9 runs across the northern section of the watershed, adjacent to or near the
Westfield River for about 5 miles near Cummington, MA. The team wants to determine the
effects of the road on temperatures. Their hypothesis is that the clearing caused by the road and
resultant increased exposure to sunlight is warming the river temperature. Additionally, they are
considering the impact of warmed runoff water from the road being a source of hot water to the
river during the critical summer low-flow season. In this scenario, a summer rainstorm drops
water on the heated pavement. This water is warmed and quickly runs off into the river. During
summer, river temperatures are often already at critical levels for salmon. The students are
studying if there is an impact from the road heating. To date, the group determined that the
heating in this river section is significantly greater than heating over the entire river from
Cummington to the lowest gauging station downstream of the Westfield Walmart.

A second team with Amanda Perron and Kristel Allen has loggers deployed upstream and
downstream of the reservoirs created by the Russell (Lynch) dam and the Strathmore Paper Dam.
Their hypothesis is that the impoundments result in warmer river temperatures. This is because
the lakes are shallow and the water slows, exposing it to greater solar heating. Most loggers were
removed in early November, except one that was buried by sediments during recent heavy flows.
To date, this group has determined that there is significantly greater heating in the portion of the
river impounded by the Strathmore dam than over the entire river. Surprisingly, the group also
found that the impoundments serve to cool the river during the fall, in effect amplifying the
effects of weather.

The third team is aggregating all information from the loggers to create a general picture of
suitable salmon habitat throughout the late spring, summer, and fall. Understanding and
visualizing these data is somewhat more difficult than it sounds, because all told the students will
collect around 150,000 temperature observations this year. Students Andrea Palpini and
Christine Verdolino created monthly maps showing the portion of the river that was suitable
habitat (defined as having average temperatures above 3º C and less than 15º C). They found that
during July and August, there was no suitable habitat for salmon. They hypothesize that the river
has micro-habitats where the water is cooler, perhaps in deeper pools, areas with significant
groundwater inflow, or shaded banks. Also, they found a range of values in the scientific
literature regarding the actual limits on temperature limits for salmon habitat. Many of the values
they found were greater than 15º C, so it may be that the actual suitable habitat is greater than

The students are conducting this research as part of their senior capstone experiences at
Westfield State College. They presented their preliminary results at the Bridgewater State
College Undergraduate Environmental Science Research Symposium on November 15th.
Abstracts can be viewed at the conference website. 

Stenciling Storm Drains

in the
Westfield River Watershed
by Kathy Meyer and Joan Pearsons

On Sunday, October 5 the Westfield River Watershed Association began its "Storm Drain Stenciling"
Program by stenciling the storm sewers at Wal-Mart in Westfield. Nineteen children from a local cub
scout group helped with this effort. Each storm drain in the Wal-Mart parking lot was painted with a
reminder that anything put in the sewer flows directly into the Westfield River.

Many people don't know that storm sewers flow directly into rivers without going through a sewage
treatment plant. Fish and other aquatic life that live in the river are harmed by things such as motor oil,
paint, lawn chemicals, etc., that run into the storm drains.

Eventually the Westfield River Watershed Association, with help from community volunteers, will
stencil all the storm drains in Westfield and other parts of the watershed, and provide informational
brochures explaining why it is important not to dump anything into the sewers.

Huntington Portion
of the
Westfield River Cleanup
by Michael Vorwerk

We had 23 people show up for the Huntington portion of the Westfield River Cleanup
on October 4th. Among them were 17 students from Westfield State College who
graciously volunteered their Saturday morning, two Huntington Conservation
Commission members, and even a special guest trash "picker-upper" from Germany.
Altogether, the group cleaned 13 miles worth of pull-offs and put-ins, collecting about
2 pickup truck loads of rubbish. Students from Westfield State College pulled a gas
tank from the woods and rolled a clothes dryer back up the hill at one of the Route 20
overlooks. At another site, they found a set of tires (could be yours for the right
price;-), and even the infamous "kitchen sink." 
In general, this section of the river was much cleaner than in last year¹s cleanup,
which was the first Huntington Cleanup in several years. The students brought a lot of
energy, effort, and positive attitude into the cleanup, and we¹re very grateful that they
volunteered to help the Westfield River.
Trash in Turnouts Update
by Kathy Meyer

On October 9, a group including members of the Jacob's Ladder Trail Committee, Huntington
and Russell Conservation Commissions, Westfield River Watershed Association, and Mass
Highway Department met to formulate a plan to reduce thrash in the turnouts along Highway 20.
These are being used as de facto picnic areas and beaches by people using the Westfield River
for swimming, with a resulting trash problem. The three turnouts of concern are areas across
from Countryside Furniture in Russell, the Whippernon Golf Course, and the Huntington
Medical Center. We want to keep these turnouts open because they provide access to the river,
but want to reduce the trash.

The group agreed on the following: 1. No overnight parking signage (needs to state hours that
turnouts are open) 2. At turnout across from Countryside Furniture, to keep cars within turnout
only "no parking" signs on same side of highway and across the road from turnout. 3. Provide
trash bags in dispenser with signage in English, Spanish and Russian, asking people to carry out
their trash. 4. Signage prohibiting fires and charcoal grills at all three turnouts. 5. No trash cans
will be provided. 6. Signs will be as few and as small as possible (to comply with highway
department rules but keep the look as natural as possible). Possible removal of some of the
existing signs at the turnouts.

Two unresolved issues are getting the co-operation of law enforcement officials and getting
volunteers to help clean the turnouts. We know that no matter what we do, there still will be
some trash that needs to be picked up every week in summer. Are there any WRWA members
who could help, maybe once in spring, once in fall and once a month during the summer? If so,
please call me at 568-4252. 

The Water We Drink:

Where it Comes From
Keeping it Safe
Presented by David Madsen of the
Westfield Water Department
Westfield Athenaeum
Saturday, February 7 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Dave will show and explain where our sources of water, wells and pump stations are
located, what backflow check valves and cross connections are, and why they are
required to prevent contaminants from ending up in Westfield's drinking water

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