February 2020 Issue
February’s Chapter Meeting:
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 @ 7pm
This month’s speaker: Ayla Skorupa
Ayla, received an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from Roger Williams University in RI and a masters degree in Marine Biology from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. My research focused on correlating a species of zooplankton to pink salmon survival in the Gulf of Alaska. I started working with freshwater mussels in 2016 and since then I’ve been hooked on the taxa. Currently, I’m contributing to a restoration strategy for the state endangered brook floater (Alasmidonta varicosa).
Ayla’s presentation will provide a broad background on freshwater mussels that includes information on their life cycle and dependency on a host fish for survival. It will incorporate results from an experiment that compared the growth of lab produced brook floater between it’s native watersheds in MA (Nissitissit River, Ware River, Bachelor Brook and the West Branch Farmington River).
A message from the President:
Happy New Year and welcome to 2020. This is my first column as the new President of our chapter of Trout Unlimited. I have been a member of Trout Unlimited since 2013 and over the last 3 years I have been participating regularly here. I am very excited about the opportunities ahead of us. Currently, we have 231 members. Our membership dates to 1977! This is a fantastic size group and we are always excited to see so many at our annual dinner. This year’s will be held on March 14th at the Pepperell VFW.
I decided to take on the role of president for 2 reasons. First, I believe in our mission of protecting our local waters to support an amazing diversity of plants, animals and fish. Our local waters are under constant threat both environmentally and politically and require our constant attention. It is critically important to protect our environment for us and the future. Secondly, this chapter of the Trout Unlimited has some of the most dedicated individuals that I have ever met. For many years there has been a core group of members that have pushed many projects forward in our backyard for the benefit of many. My goal is to broaden that group and engage with more of our membership to involve others in participating with the work that is continuing. I invite everyone to participate at meetings, clean up events and provide me with feedback for activities that you would like to be engaged on.
Many of you may not be aware of all the projects that we are currently working on so here is a quick summary of each.
- Sucker Brook Restoration – Sucker Brook is a Coldwater Fishery Resource that joins the Nissitissit River. Wild brook trout, eastern pearl shell, and brook floater mussels have been documented in the brook. Within Keyes Parker Conservation Area two barriers impact connectivity along Sucker Brook – an approximately 7-foot-tall stone masonry dam and a culvert that conveys the entrance road from Oak Hill Street into the site. The Conservation Area is owned and managed by the Town of Pepperell as a recreational resource.
- Heald Street – DER provided grant funding in 2020 to the Town of Pepperell to conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering for the replacement of a culvert on Sucker Brook. This culvert replacement complements a downstream restoration project restoring stream connectivity. Upgrading this culvert protects infrastructure and improves passage for native brook trout, rare and endangered mussel species and other aquatic species.
- Collaboration with the Nashua River Watershed Association. The NWRA is working on a grant proposal for the Massachusetts Environmental Trust “Drive for a Better Environment” Grant RFP. It will expand the current project that is underway to help identify cold water refuges (springs, seeps, and groundwater discharges) that will allow cold water species including Brook Trout, to survive in the face of Climate Change warming.
As you can see, there is a lot going on. The Board of Directors and several volunteers have been putting in many hours working with the State’s Division of Ecological Restoration, the Town of Pepperell and other conservation organizations in the area. Because of these efforts we are well positioned to complete these projects and have support for future projects.
It is my goal this year to engage our members at every level. If you haven’t been to a meeting in a while, please plan on attending one soon and re-introduce yourself.
$1.5 million from General Electric settlement to fund six projects in Housatonic River watershed
HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP)–The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will use settlement funds from the General Electric/Housatonic River Natural Resource Damages Assessment and Restoration settlement to restore habitat, conserve and protect land, and provide environmental education in the watershed.
The projects are outlined in a restoration plan released today, which was finalized following public review in April 2019. About $1.5 million will fund the following projects submitted by the public: a culvert replacement project designed to restore brook trout habitat in Churchill Brook in Pittsfield; an environmental education program focused on the Housatonic River watershed; a habitat restoration effort focused on ecologically significant calcareous wetlands in the Housatonic River watershed; and three land conservation projects. Due to the sensitive nature of real estate transactions, details about the locations and characteristics of the proposed land acquisition projects will be released once the parcels are purchased.
This is the fourth and final round of funding from a $7.75 million natural resource damages settlement with General Electric in 2000 to fund restoration projects directed toward natural resources that were injured by the release of PCBs into the Housatonic River watershed in Massachusetts. MassDEP and the Service are the Massachusetts SubCouncil of the Housatonic River Natural Resource Trustees. The goal of natural resource damage assessment and restoration is to replace, restore or acquire the equivalent of the resources and recreational opportunities affected by contamination – at no cost to taxpayers. This process is distinct from cleanup activities overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The Housatonic River is central to the Berkshires, supporting water, wildlife and outdoor opportunities throughout the region,” said Tom Chapman, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New England Field Office supervisor. “Over the past decade, we’ve worked with communities across the watershed to invest more than $8 million into supporting a healthy and enjoyable river, from restoring habitat and protecting land to boosting recreation and environmental education.”
“Restoration of the Housatonic River Watershed will benefit many habitat types and residents of affected communities,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The variety and strength of the restoration projects will further the continued healthy revitalization of the watershed’s ecosystem.”
For more information, visit http://www.ma-housatonicrestoration.org/library.htm or contact Cathy Kiley, MassDEP, at 617-556-1012 or email@example.com.
by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Save the Date!
Saturday, March 14th, 2020
The Squan-A-Tissit Chapter will be holding its Annual Fundraiser Dinner from 5pm to 9pm at The VFW Post 3219 in Pepperell MA.
Please join us for a fun filled night with a home cooked spaghetti dinner, bucket raffles, auctions, door prizes, and guest speaker Rita Tulloh .
This event is the chapters sole fundraising source that supports the conservation efforts in conserving, protecting, and restoring the Nissitissit and Squannacook rivers and their tributaries. The chapter has several new projects planned for 2019. We can not succeed without your support!
The chapter is in need of donations that can be used in the raffles and auctions. Donations need not be fishing related and will be greatly appreciated!
Please contact the chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your support!
About the guest speaker: Rita Tulloh
Rita Tulloh is a master falconer and has been practicing the ancient hunting sport of falconry for 13 years. She currently hunts with her 13 year old red-tailed hawk, Scarlett O’Hara and also has a male American kestrel, Kal El. Rita is a member of the North American Falconers Association and the NH Falconry Association. With falconry at the top of the list, her other passions include creating art and woodcarving.
A Record 90 Of Dams Were Removed in 2019
More states than ever before are getting involved in restoring rivers through dam removal, and it is wonderful to see!
26 states (A RECORD!) removed dams in 2019. 973+ upstream river miles reconnected in 2019 through dam removal projects.
2019 was a big year for dam removal and the freeing of America’s rivers. In 26 states, a record 90 dams were removed according to American Rivers’ annual removal report. There is still a long way to go to remove derelict or otherwise not economically viable dams, as there are currently approx. 84,000 dams still in place across the US.
“One of the most cost-effective ways to deal with outdated, unsafe dams is to remove them,” American Rivers said in a press release. “Removing dams allows rivers to flow naturally, which can have benefits for water quality, flood protection, fish and wildlife habitat, ecosystem health and recreation.”
“More states than ever saw dam removals last year, which means more states than ever are seeing the benefits of healthy, free-flowing rivers,” said Bob Irvin, President and CEO of American Rivers.
“As we celebrate the progress made last year, we are working with our partners to grow the river restoration movement and accelerate the pace of dam removal nationwide. With floods and droughts increasing with climate change and many populations of fish and wildlife in decline, healthy free-flowing rivers have never been more important to our well-being and our future.”
American Rivers is the only organization maintaining a record of dam removals in the United States. The database (here) includes information on 1,722 dams that have been removed across the country since 1912. Most of those dams (1,476) were removed in the past 30 years. If you’re more of a map person, you can see the removals mapped here. American Rivers played a role in nine of the dam removals on this year’s list. The database includes all known dam removals, regardless of the extent of American Rivers’ involvement.
2019 Dam Removal Leaderboard:
- California – 23 Dams Removed, 20 within Cleveland Nat’l Forest
- Pennsylvania – 14 Dams Removed
- New Hampshire – 6 Dams Removed
- Vermont – 6 Dams Remove