Meet near Pelham Brook Confluence on Zoar Road. Cross the bridge going over Pelham Brook and we’ll gather at the first pull off on the left.
Greetings everyone! With summer now over we thought we would try and start holding chapter meetings again. Unfortunately, with Covid-19 restrictions still in place, we need to be more creative. We want to start combining chapter meetings with our outdoor conservation projects. Our goal is to get our chapter meeting business done within 10-15 minutes and then get to work. We’re hoping this combination will make our chapter meetings livelier and more efficient in getting things done in the field.
At this first meeting, I will bring everyone up-to-speed on all the projects we’re currently doing – FERC Re-Licensing, Brown Trout Telemetry Study – and some new projects that we’ll be starting quite soon. Then we’ll get to work in Pelham Brook. This “Rock Roll” is a continuation of last year’s project. Our goal is to create a better flow from the Brook into the Deerfield’s mainstem. This provides colder water into the Deerfield’s mainstem and serves as a sanctuary for trout in summer seeking cooler water. But the work we did last year never got a chance to settle, literally. A five-inch rainstorm just a few days after our effort re-blocked some of the flow. The rocks we had moved never got a change to compact into the stream bed.
However, Pelham Brook fared better than Avery Brook. We will continue down to Avery Brook once we’re done at Pelham. Large logs we had placed in Avery last year were completely washed away. And within the past two months, some folks decided to illegally build a small weir straight across the brook near its confluence with the Deerfield. mouth. It has completely changed the streambed compared to last year. We believe bathers did this to increase the depth of the cold water so they could lie in it and cool off. The Deerfield mainstem’s temperature reached at least 76 degrees in this area in July. Avery Brook was at least 10 degrees colder. We’ll knock a hole right through the middle of the weir and get the water flowing naturally again.
Be sure to dress accordingly and wear suitable boots or waders. And if you have a long pry bar to move rocks, please bring it along.
Please email us (DeerfieldRiverTU@gmail.com) if you plan on joining us, so that we can get an accurate headcount. Thanks so much for all your patience. This has been a rough year for all of us. It will be great to get back outdoors and start working on our rivers and streams again If you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email or call me directly. Hope to see you on September 19th.
The following press release from Franklin Land Trust was prepared by Melissa Patterson-Serrill, FLT Director of Community Outreach and Education:
Franklin Land Trust (FLT) recently acquired for conservation 154 acres in Heath abutting its 96-acre Crowningshield Conservation Area (CCA). The 154-acre parcel purchase – which took place on June 25th, 2020 from the Gudell Family – was supported by funding from the MA Dept of Fish and Game; local, state and national chapters of Trout Unlimited; the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation; the William P. Wharton Trust; and Franklin Land Trust’s Heath Conservation Fund. Tom Curren, FLT Executive Director, is thrilled to see this project cross the finish line. “This is a fine example of FLT’s partnership with other organizations in pursuit of shared conservation goals. We’re proud to expand here upon the work accomplished during decades of efforts by local volunteers, private groups, other non-profits, and governmental agencies.”
FLT’s Crowningshield Conservation Area was originally purchased and protected in 2015 with the support of local and regional Trout Unlimited chapters. It is preserved permanently under a Conservation Restriction held by the MA Dept of Fish and Game. “This land protection project and the habitat restoration of the uplands and stream habitat in the North River West Branch is the result of an incredible long term partnership including Franklin Land Trust, Trout Unlimited, MassWildlife, private foundations and local residents,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “The conservation restriction we acquired ensures permanent protection of the land, access for hunting, fishing, hiking, and birding, and protection of one of the finest cold-water fisheries in the region.”
CCA has over one mile of river frontage on West Branch Brook, a tributary of the North River and an important subwatershed of the Deerfield River for native brook trout. In their native range, wild brook trout are a valuable indicator species for the overall health of a river and its watershed. They require clean, cold water to thrive and have seen sharp population declines due to warming water temperatures, pollution, and loss of habitat. FLT’s partnership with Trout Unlimited offers a unique opportunity for those who care about fishing, climate change, and land conservation to take real and meaningful action.
“Our partnership with the Franklin Land Trust goes beyond our local chapter,” said Michael Vito, president of the Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited Chapter #349. Paul Beaulieu, president of the Mass-Rhode Island Trout Unlimited Council, notes “The Council, a number of Massachusetts TU chapters, and individual TU members from around the Commonwealth reached into their own pockets and generously contributed to this purchase. We even got a grant from TU National’s Cold-Water Land Conservation Fund.” Bill Pastuszek, Mass Representative to TU’s National Leadership Council, noted: “The West Branch of the North River is an important native brook trout stream in Massachusetts. We all want to see it protected. The diversity and breadth of support for this acquisition shows the importance associated with this effort to preserve and enhance this resource.”
The Deerfield TU chapter will now start planning conservation projects to help protect and enhance the West Branch’s cold-water fishery. “We’ll start doing an assessment of this new stretch of river and see what it needs,” Vito said. Fish assemblage, bank erosion prevention, fish habitat restoration and a macro invertebrate study have already been completed by Trout Unlimited, FLT and Cole Ecological, Inc. in the Crowningshield portion of the West Branch.
The newly acquired 154-acre parcel abuts the original 96-acre CCA to the south of West Branch Brook, ensuring that both sides of this cold-water stream and the drainages that feed it are permanently protected. “FLT is thinking about land conservation on a watershed scale,” said FLT Head Land Steward Will Anderson. “Tributaries and headwaters like those found at Crowningshield Conservation Area and the new Gudell acquisition are fed by groundwater and travel through shaded forests, supplying important cold water to the mainstems within the watershed. This cold water is critical to many aquatic species facing warming temperatures due to climate change.”
“The Gudell acquisition was the last piece of a very large puzzle,” said Alain Peteroy, FLT’s Director of Land Conservation. The Gudell parcel connects CCA to a 60-acre Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary along its eastern border, and FLT recently conserved a small farm field, now owned by Heath Farmer Mike Freeman, that abuts the northern boundary of the CCA. The Freeman Farm produces organic beef, honey, and maple syrup and abuts 130 acres of privately conserved land on its northeastern boundary. Continuing north, the HO Cook State Forest offers an additional 918 acres of conserved land in the region. “This has been a continued process of building a significant conservation block, incorporating Sanders Brook and the West Branch of the North River,” said Peteroy. “We are looking at almost 500 acres of conserved land sitting next to over 900 acres of state forest land, all with tributaries that drain into the Deerfield River.”
But as our rivers and streams face the impacts of climate change, land conservation is just one part of the solution. FLT, the Massachusetts Woodlands Institute (MWI), and Trout Unlimited are working to restore fish habitat by developing a new program called Forests for the Fish. This project is designed to enhance habitat for cold water fish by offering tools to forest landowners interested in improving fish habitat in their forest streams. “Private landowners – farms, families, organizations, and individuals – own over 2 million acres of forest in Massachusetts. This places the future of threatened species like native brook trout squarely in all of our hands,” said Emily Boss, MWI Executive Director. “Forests for the Fish will connect landowners who love and cherish their woodland streams with management resources and expertise.” To learn more about the Forests for the Fish program email email@example.com.
The Gudell parcel will be open to the public for hiking, fishing, birding, and hunting. Access to this newly acquired land will be through the trails at Crowningshield Conservation Area off West Branch Road. To learn more about the Crowningshield Conservation Area, and the Forests for the Fishprogram, visit www.franklinlandtrust.org.
Despite Covid 19, our Trout Telemetry study continues through the efforts of one of our newest board members, Kevin Kaminsky. Kevin has been making 2-4 trips up and down the river every week to ensure that our data is uninterrupted. If you’d like to check on up-to-date information about the movements of our 29 tagged brown trout, click here. We are hoping to get our cadre of volunteers back on task soon. Watch this space for more info.
Citing documentation of the DRWTU Trout Spawning Studies, MA Department of Environmental Protection has denied the Water Quality Certification to Brookfield Power in the final phase of the relicensing of Fife Brook Dam and Bear Swamp Pumped Storage Facility. DEP will consider a new application that addresses MA Fish and Wildlife concerns regarding the impact of dam releases on wild fish and aquatic invertebrates such as threatened dragonflies.
The following is an email message to telemetry study volunteers from Mike Vito, Chapter President: All, As Governor Charlie Baker is now advising for people to “shelter in place” we will postpone our telemetry study starting today (March 23rd) until April 7th, following the governor’s timeline. I also spoke with a USGS biologist we are working with on this project and they are also suspending all of their own field activities in light of COVID-19. While our own study, being done one volunteer at a time, poses little threat; I would rather be safe than sorry. The biologist also told me that the most recent data he looked at (last week) shows that the fish are still holding in place, likely due to the cold water temperatures. We have plenty of data already collected and with little fish movement expected over the next two weeks, we probably won’t miss any sudden mobility from the fish. . I’m sorry for any inconvenience but health and safety have to come first. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me. I will be working on a new schedule that will resume (hopefully) on April 7th. I will send it out the first week in April. Stay safe and healthy everyone, and I will be in touch soon. And again, any questions please send them my way. Sincerely, Mike Vito
Our joint meeting with the VT Connecticut River Valley Chapter scheduled for March 19 has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns – we’ll try to reschedule for the fall. Trout Unlimited National is asking all chapters to refrain from holding meetings, and meetings of more than 25 people are banned in MA. We’ll resume our third Thursday of the month meetings when possible. Watch for emailed announcements on upcoming meetings.
In the meantime we encourage a cautious approach to all of our members. Social distancing can be observed (and usually is) on the river. If you are isolating yourself out of concern for the health of your family and friends, as many of us are, you might want to take a break from your screens and tie some flies and/or read some fly fishing literature.
Save the date: Tie flies, eat pizza, quaff your favorite beverage and share fish stories Saturday, February 15, 2020 from 10AM to 4PM at the Deerfield Fly Shop annex 8 Elm Street, South Deerfield. The $20 entrance fee covers pizza and drinks, a spot at the tying table, access to some brilliant fly tyers, and gets you in a drawing for the door prize.
Thanks everybody for your support – sold out with half a week to go! This year the Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited Annual Dinner will be held at the Deerfield Inn in historic Deerfield on February 22. Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets by clicking here. Tickets @ $40.00 per person include hors d’oeuvres, three course meal and an after dinner presentation on the ongoing Trout Telemetry Study by Ted Castro Santos and Matt O’Donnell – our partners from the USGS Silvio Conte Anadramous Fish Laboratory. There will be a raffle as well as an auction, and a cash bar will be available. This is a great opportunity to support the Chapter, learn about this exciting study, catch up with fishing buddies, win some valuable fishing and non-fishing related items, and acknowledge the conservation efforts of a remarkable individual.
We’ll be presenting the DRWTU Conservation Award to Polly Bartlett, who has worked tirelessly on conservation in the area. Polly has been active in conservation for over 50 years. She founded the Deerfield River Watershed Association in the 90’s.
Seating is limited to 60 people and we are pleased to announce – we sold them all and then some!
Free to DRWTU members! Beginning/Novice Fly Tying Course to be held 6:30-8:30 Wednesday nights at the Floodwaters Brewery at 40 State Street; Shelburne Falls MA. Classes will be held from January 22 – February 12, 2020. Floodwaters is on the Buckland side, just upstream from the Bridge of Flowers and West End Pub and downstream from the Eagles (where we meet every third Thursday for our chapter meeting). If you have a vise bring it, but if you don’t we’ll provide one for you to use. All materials And tools will be provided but please bring your own tools if you’ve got ‘em. Note: At the final class one lucky participant will take home a Regal Vise donated by Don Barnes!
The course will be taught by DRWTU member Steve LaValley, who has taught fly tying to hundreds of individuals over the course of his 30 year career as a commercial fly tier. He has been a featured tier at several regional fly fishing shows. He will be assisted by other DRWTU chapter members including Mike Didonna, Chris Jackson, Jack Shea, Eric Halloran, Kevin Parsons and Randy Prostak.
The chapter is grateful for the use of the Floodwaters Brewery space as the venue for this course. Thanks to Floodwaters owner and DRWTU member, Zack Livingston, who brews some great beer and has been very generous to the DRWTU chapter.
If you are not a member of DRWTU you can still participate in the course. The course fee of $35.00 will cover the cost of materials for the four week course. Alternatively, you can join DRWTU at the special rate of $17.50 for new members and get the course for free.
Register by sending an email to DeerfieldRiverTU@gmail.com. You can sign up for membership at the new member rate ($17.50) here. Or just show up at Floodwaters Brewery on January 22 at 6:30 with cash or check.
On December 14, 2019 Chris Myhrum submitted comments on behalf of the DRWTU Chapter as an intervener in the FERC relicensing process of the Fife Brook Dam and Bear Swamp Hydroelectric project. You can read the document here.