WRWA sponsors or participates in a variety of events during the year. Many of these events offer opportunities for volunteers to get involved with watershed issues. The listing below includes some specifics for 2004 events.
X-C Skiing at Knightville: with Board member Tom Condon and his wife Nancy (who's Director of Education at The Zoo in Forest Park) on Sunday, Jan 18 from 9:00 a.m. til about noon. We'll ski 2-3 miles along easy terrain into the Indian Hollow area above the Knightville Dam. Meet at the commuter parking lot at Westfield State College. We'll car pool up to the gated road. 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.
Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program (ASERP): WRWA provided chillers and tanks at the South Middle School in Westfield, the Memorial Elementary School in West Springfield, the Gateway Regional Middle School in Huntington (check the link to see the web site they've put together on the 2004 program), and the Powder Mill Middle School in Southwick during the Spring of 2004. About 300 salmon eggs will be delivered to each site in early February. Students monitor the hatching of the eggs and care for the fry until they are stocked in local streams in mid-late May. Our thanks to Petco in Holyoke for a substantial discount on the tanks and some accessories, and to the Westfield WalMart for donation of some accessories for the ASERP project. Thanks also to Carl Grobe, Ken Taylor, Michael Vorwerk, Henry Warchol and Mike Young, who assisted with the school's fry releases.
The Water We Drink: Where it Comes From, Keeping it Safe: Join Charles Darling, Superintendent of the Westfield Water Department on Saturday, February 7 from 10:00 a.m. til about 11:30 a.m. at the Westfield Athenauem. Charles ("Woody") will describe the sources the City of Westfield uses for our drinking water supply, and will show us where the town's wells and pump stations are located. He'll also discuss the intricacies of cross connections and backflow check valves.
Russell Pond Exploration: We'll start our trip at 10 am on Sunday, February 15 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.
Westfield River Symposium: WRWA sponsors an annual symposium each spring on watershed issues. Symposia feature talks, poster displays and, often, field trips. The 2004 symposium, with the theme "Habitat", was held on Saturday, March 27, 2003 at Westfield State College. Approximately 150 people attended and more than twenty exhibitors were present. Field trips included a walk through some habitats of Stanley Park, and tours of the two large flood control dams on the upper branches of the Westfield River. Thanks to the symposium committee of Kathy Meyer, Carl Grobe and Bob Thompson who did a great job of planning the event. The photos below are from the Littleville Dam.
Hike Hubbard Brook: Join the outing club on Sunday, March 28 for a stroll along one of the prettiest little brooks in Western Mass, Hubbard Brook in Granville State Forest. Here the spring runoff cascades over numerous small falls as the water tumbles down a heavily forested hillside. Along the way, we'll stop and discuss the power of water to shape the watersheds in which we live. We'll also look for signs of an early (we hope) awakening spring. Meet at the Brooks Shopping Plaza in Southwick at 9 a.m. Expect to return about 1 p.m. 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 Condon at 564-0895 to pre-register for the trip or with any questions.
Hike the MM Trail: Join Henry Warchol (413-562-3467) on Sunday, April 4 for a hike, cosponsored by the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (C-3-C), from Bush Notch to US 202 along the east side of Westfield. Along the way, we'll stop to inspect some vernal pools for fairy shrimp and clams. Meet at 9:30 a.m. in the back of Friendly's Restaurant at Exit 3 from the Massachusetts Turnpike in Westfield.
Atlantic Salmon Fry Stocking: Each year WRWA volunteers assist Massachusetts DFW personnel in stocking salmon fry in the Westfield River and its tributaries. This year WRWA is committed to providing volunteers on Saturday, April 17 (Dickenson and Munn Brooks) and Saturday, May 1 (Middle Branch of Westfield R., Sawmill R. - as the fry will be coming down from VT). Check the 2004 Fry Stocking Schedule (which also lists some other dates on which stocking will be going on in our Watershed) and follow the instructions there, or contact Mike Young (572-5741) for additional information. You can check on the numbers of returning fish (salmon, shad) at the USFWS daily fish count webpage.
Hike the Unkamits Path: Join Henry Warchol (413-562-3467) on Saturday, May 1 for an approximately 4-5 mile hike, cosponsored by the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (C-3-C). The route climbs to Round Top, then continues to Chester along the Unkamits Path. Along the way, we'll stop to inspect some vernal pools for their lifeforms. Meet at 9:30 a.m. across the brook from Carms Restaurant in Chester (Flying Horse sign on top of building, about 18 miles west on Rt. 20 from Westfield, MA).
Annual Dinner Meeting: Approximately 50 members and guests attended the WRWA Annual Meeting, which was held on Thursday, May 6 at the Westwood Restaurant in Westfield (on Rts. 10/202 about a mile north of the center of Westfield). The evening began with a social hour from 6:00 to 7:00, followed by a buffet dinner. This year's Waite Award was given to Jeff Penn, an active member of the Wild & Scenic Advisory Committee. The featured speaker was Joan Kimball, Director of the Riverways program. Thanks to Kathy Meyer (413-568-4252) for organizing this enjoyable annual get-together.
Keystone Arch Bridges Ceremony: The Friends of the Keystone Arches will be hosting an opening ceremony for the Keystone Arch Bridges Trail at the new elementary school in Chester, MA, one mile from the trailhead on Saturday, May 22. The day will feature Civil War re-enactors, crafters, railroadiana vendors and exhibitors, fly fishing demonstrations, kayak demos, special postal cancellation, music, food and other surprises. Weather permitting, it will be held outside on the grounds of the new school. Students will participate with art and displays relating to the trail and local history. Hikes will be led all day to see the marvelous structures at the heart of this enterprise. For more information check out the Friends of the Keystone Arches Website at: http://home.att.net/~rickarbour/News.htm.
DSI/FiberMark Fishway Open House: About 300 visitors toured the fishway at the West Springfield dam (70 Front St., just S of Rt. 20) on Sunday May 23. This facility provides upstream passage for migrating fish, and we did have a couple of shad and sea lamprey pass by during the afternoon. The fishway, which is about a half-mile walk from the parking area, was open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thanks to Kathy Meyer (413-568-4252) for organizing the event this year, and to Matt DelMonte, Gabe Khatchadourian, Ron Lucassen, Kathy Meyer, Joan Pearsons, Eileen Rannenberg, Ken Taylor, Henry Warchol, and Mike Young who helped to provide the tours.
Canoe Cruise: About 15-20 canoes and kayaks joined us for a leisurely six-mile cruise down the scenic Westfield River from downtown Westfield to Robinson State Park on Saturday, June 5. Registration was from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m., with departure at 1:00. Highlights included lamprey nests in the gravels of the river and sighting of several orioles and a muskrat. The cruise was free for WRWA members, $5 for non-members. Thanks to Michael Vorwerk (413-667-5152), who organized the trip this year.
Fly Fishing Derby: More than 30 people registered for our first ever fly-fishing derby on Sunday, June 6. The event was run along several miles of the river between the Whippernon Golf Course in Russell and the old Sheraton Inn site in Westfield. This was a catch and release event, and the grand prize of $250 went to Lou Volpi, who caught trout of 20.5 and 14 inches, giving him the longest two-fish total length. Second place went to Richard Buckelew, who had fish of 17.75 and 16.5 inches, only .25 inches behind the winner for total length. Thanks to Gabe Khatchadourian (568-3005) for putting the event together and for soliciting donations of the grand prize and a number of other prizes for a raffle.
Stream Continuity Surveys: On Saturday and Sunday, June 12-13 WRWA, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Riverways program and The Nature Conservancy, sponsored two training sessions to teach volunteers how to survey bridges and culverts in the watershed. The goal is to identify those structures that pose the most significant obstacles to the movement of fish and other wildlife along stream corridors. The Nature Conservancy has received a grant to support tabulation of the data and some remediation of structures that are problematic. This project will continue through the summer and fall, so if you missed the sessions, but are interested in lending a hand, please contact Mike Young (413-572-5741).
Storm Drain Stenciling: Volunteers are needed to stencil our local storm drains with a "Do Not Dump - Drains to River" message. These stencil messages remind residents and businesses not to dump hazardous materials into or near storm drains. Stenciling and distribution of educational literature took place from 9:30 am to noon on many Saturdays during the summer of 2004 - with assistance from several local scouting groups. Many thanks to Joan Pearsons (736-5208) who did much of the organizing for this important effort. More details on the West Springfield portion of this project can be found at the West Springfield DPW website.
The Westfield River: Wild & Scenic!: Portions of the upper branches of the Westfield River were added into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System on November 2, 1993. The designated segments include: the West Branch from a railway bridge 2000 feet downstream of the Becket town center to the Huntington/Chester town line; the Middle Branch from the Peru/Worthington town line downstream to the confluence with Kinne Brook in Chester; Glendale Brook; the East Branch from the Windsor/Cummington town line to the Knightville Reservoir. There are 18.9 miles classified as scenic and 24.4 miles classified as recreational for a total of 43.3 miles. An additional 34.8 miles are currently under consideration by the Secretary of the Interior for designation. What is the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System? What does this important distinction mean for the river and its surroundings? Why is the Westfield's designation different from rivers in the west and in other parts of New England? What has the designation achieved so far? About 40 people got answers to these and other questions from Liz Lacy of the National Park Service on Tuesday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Savignano Auditorium A in Wilson Hall on the campus of Westfield State College. The talk is free and open to the public.
Annual River Cleanup - Day I: Our annual river cleanups are scheduled for Saturday, October 2 and Saturday, October 16th. Last year we had a fantastic turnout which gave us the opportunity to tackle more spots that needed to be cleaned. This year I am hoping we will cover a larger area. We will meet both days at 9:00 AM at the Westfield Gas and Electric Power station by the green bridge (off Meadow Street) in downtown Westfield. Please register your name as a volunteer early so I can organize more areas to be cleaned. Again, volunteering for a couple hours on any or both of these days will help the overall goal of WRWA. Please email or call Gabe Khatchadourian (413-568-3005) with any questions or to register.
AMC Hike: Hike on Unkamit's Path on Sunday, October 10 (B3BC). See views of the environs from both Turtle Bend and Shatterack Mtn's.. Bring water and a lunch. Meet at the Westfield City Hall parking lot at 59 Court Street at 9 am. Call Henry Warchol for details at 562-3467.
Stormwater Management Forum: Approximately 50 people joined us on Thursday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Town of West Springfield's Municipal Auditorium (26 Central St., 2nd floor) for Troubled Waters: Stormwater Pollution in West Springfield and What We're Doing About It. The program featured a short film from the EPA on stormwater management issues, a PowerPoint program on local efforts to stencil storm drains with logos reading: "Dump No Waste, Drains to River", presentation of certificates to scouting groups that participated in the stenciling effort, and a short question/answer session led by Jim Lyons, West Springfield's Town Engineer. Funding for the stenciling program was provided by Northeast Utilities, with some materials contributed by the Westfield WalMart.
Annual River Cleanup - Day II: Our second fall river clean-up day this year was scheduled for Saturday, October 16. We met at 9:00 AM at the Westfield Gas and Electric Power station by the green bridge (off Meadow Street) in downtown Westfield. Thanks to Gabe Khatchadourian (413-568-3005) who organized this year's cleanups.
Trees and Flowers along the Westfield River: Autumn is a spectacular time throughout New England. Join Nancy and Tom Condon on Sunday, October 17 for a stroll along the Westfield River above Knightsville Dam to explore the wonders of the season. We will stop to identify trees and flowers along the way and marvel at the process by which leaves change color. Bring your binoculars to help identify those migrating birds as well. Pack a lunch, plenty of water, dress for the weather, and wear comfortable shoes for the hike. Please call 413-564-0895 to register. Meeting place is the commuter parking lot at Westfield State College and the trip will run from 9:00 a.m. til about 1:00 p.m.
A 'Brief History of Time' in the Pioneer Valley: Join Nancy and Tom Condon on Sunday, November 7 for a hike along the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail to the top of Provin Mountain. We'll take a leisurely pace up this gradually climbing ridgeline. We'll stop along they way to explore the geologic past of the Pioneer Valley. The trail will take us past evidence of ancient volcanic activity, continental collisions, and ice ages. We will also explore how this unique geological history has shaped the flora and fauna of Western Massachusetts. The trail offers outstanding view to the west all along the way; the views from the summit, near the Channel 22 transmitters, offer a 3600 panorama of the entire valley. Wear good hiking boots as the trail is rugged in places, dress for the weather, and bring a lunch and water for the hike. Please call 413-564-0895 to register. Meeting place is the pull-off on the north side of Route 57 at the Southwick/Feeding Hills Line and the trip will run from 9:00 a.m. til about 1:00 p.m.