Tag Archives: DRWTU

Chapter Meeting at Rice Brook

DRWTU President Mike Vito marking the upper boundary of our work area on Rice Brook.

November’s DRWTU Chapter meeting will be held at Rice Brook on Saturday, the 28th at 10 AM. We’ll meet in the parking lot of the Warfield House in Charlemont just off Route 2.

This will be an outside event with social distancing and masks. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather and, if you will be helping out with the stream survey, be prepared for intermediate hiking and bushwhacking. After a brief Chapter business meeting, TU biologist Dr. Erin Rodgers will demonstrate how to use the Survey 123 app in conjunction with the TU Rivers app to assess the brook. These assessments will drive decisions around future conservation efforts.

Here are links to download the app onto your phone:

1.      The Survey123 application:  https://survey123.arcgis.com
2.      The TU RIVERS mobile application:
https://www.tu.org/science/science-engagement/angler-science/rivers/

DRWTU Partner, Franklin Land Trust, Conserves Trout Habitat

Brookies like this one will benefit from the FLT purchase and preservation of the Gudell Property adjacent to Crowningshield.

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 info@masswoodlands.org

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

Annual Meeting

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.

2020 Annual Dinner Sold Out!

Ted Castro Santos will discuss the ongoing Trout Telemetry Study at DRWTU’s Annual Dinner at the Deerfield Inn on February 22, 2020.

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!

Embrace a Stream Challenge

DRWTU thanks 142 ‘unique donors’ for making the fundraising effort a huge success!

Click here to donate to the fund drive!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! The Deerfield River Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited (DRWTU) has been awarded thousands of dollars in prizes from Orvis and Trout Unlimited National because of members efforts to raise funds and because of our generous patrons, through the Embrace A Stream Challenge. The “Challenge” pitted our Chapter against 28 other local chapters nationwide that received Embrace a Stream grants, to raise even more money. Trout Unlimited has more than 400 regional chapters throughout the United States. Last year, DRWTU won the Challenge raising nearly $24,000. This year (2019) the chapter raised just under $11.5K through direct contributions to place second in both number of unique donors and amount of money raised. As a result DRWTU will get several thousand more in matching funds and prizes.

Ted Castro Santos (pictured here with a telemetry receiver) talked about the telemetry study with members and friends of DRWTU at the Floodwaters Brewery for the Embrace A Stream Challenge kick-off event.

DRWTU started the “Challenge” week with a kick-off party on Monday, November 4th at 6 pm at Floodwater Brewery, 40 State Street, Shelburne FallsFree hot dogs and bratwurst were served up by DRWTU volunteers.  People attending were encouraged to urge their friends to contribute to the online fundraising via text messaging and email. Matching funds are awarded daily in a host of categories, ranging from having the greatest number of small donations on a given day, to the largest.

“It’s really a lot of fun and a great time,” said Michael Vito, president of the DRWTU Chapter, recalling last year’s event.  “Even a $10 donation can stretch a lot further under the rules of this Challenge.” The Challenge starts November 4th and ends on November 11th.

The $2,500 grant and money raised through the challenge will be used to purchase additional radio transmitter “receiver” equipment as part of its Brown Trout Radio Telemetry study which started in early September. Partnering with biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Silvio O. Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory, in Turners Falls, and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife DRWTU volunteers have already begun tracking the daily movements of 30 brown trout all previously equipped with transmitters. You can view a map that displays up-to-date data on the trout we are tracking here https://ecosheds.org/dev/tame/ Special attention will now be given to the upcoming spawning season. The data collected will help determine the impacts of daily hydro-peaking – up and down – flows from Brookfield Power’s Fife Brook Dam and Bear Swamp hydroelectric operations on spawning trout. This year-long study is believed to be the first radio telemetry study of its kind in the nation. Check our Facebook and Instagram pages for more information about this important study. 

Tip of the Month: Bob’s Leader

We launch another round of the Fly Tip of the Month with a valuable contribution from Bob Gancarz. The tip of your fly line rig that is – Bob’s Leader Formula. I apologize for not posting this sooner. Build your own leader according to Bob’s specifications in the drawings below.

Tip of the Month: I am posting a leader formula that Bob Gancarz shared with us during his presentation ‘Big Trout Eat Tiny Flies’ at our Chapter meeting in March.
Bob Gancarz torques on a 0 wt custom fly rod during his presentation Big Trout on Tiny Flies in March, 2019.
Bob demonstrates the shock absorbing properties of a 0 weight fly rod.

Click here to see the Tiny Fly Tying Tutorial Bob provided to the Chapter.

Where Do Brown Trout Go?

While Ted Castro-Santos fine tunes the telemetry receiver, Kris van Naerssen aims a YAGI antenna at a transmitter submerged just downstream of Fife Brook Dam by DRWTU President Mike Vito (out of sight). Board member Bill O’Bear looks on to understand the operation of the directional YAGI antenna.

Finding wary trout and learning their sometimes fussy habits go hand-in-hand with fly fishing, but this year the Deerfield River Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited (DRWTU) is going to take that notion to a whole other level. Rather than scouring the river with fly rods and nets, members and volunteers will use electronic equipment as part of the group’s most ambitious conservation project to date. 

​Our local TU Chapter is preparing to commence a brown trout radio telemetry study, which may be the first of its kind on any similar-sized river controlled by hydro-electric dams in the United States. The study is designed to investigate the impacts of daily hydro-peaking flows on trout living in the stretch below Fife Brook Dam in Rowe.  Partnering with biologists from the USGS Silvio O. Conte Anadromous Fish Lab in Turners Falls and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, DRWTU is expanding its role as citizen scientists to identify the specific challenges to trout caused by the Deerfield River’s current hydro-peaking flows.

You can contribute to the study through donations of time and or money. If you’re interested in volunteering to take part in our brown trout telemetry study, e-mail DeerfieldriverTU@gmail. com. For updates, visit our website as well as our Facebook and Instagram pages. To donate to our chapter click the donation button below.

Biologist Ted Castro-Santos instructs DRWTU board members on the principles and operation of the telemetry equipment, with support from Jadziah Hanson-Moorstone, intern at the Conte lab and biologist from USFWS.
Biologist Ted Castro-Santos with the help of Matt O’Donnell secures one of DRWTU’s telemetry transmitters onto the anchor line of Chris Jackson’s raft.
DRWTU Board Member and River Guide Chris Jackson volunteered to row his raft in the August 15 trial of DRWTU’s newly acquired telemetry transmitters and receivers.
DRWTU Board Member Chris Jackson tows a radio telemetry transmitter attached to the anchor of his raft through rough water on the Deerfield River. Biologists from USGS safeguard the transmitter and record waypoint data while running a test of the DRWTU equipment. The equipment tested out perfectly, with better than expected reception via vehicle-mounted antenna from the road along the Deerfield.
Cover photo for the Final Report on the 2018 DRWTU Trout Spawning Study

Spawning Study Final Report

Cover photo for the Final Report on the 2018 DRWTU Trout Spawning Study

We are very excited to be able to share the final report of the Second Deerfield River Trout Spawning Study. The pdf is available to read or download here. The report authored by Erin Rodgers, PhD, with contributions from Mike Hayden, was submitted to TU National on July 13 as part of the final Embrace a Stream grant report. Thanks to the efforts of our members and the friends of DRWTU who participated in this study, we have been able to demonstrate that brown trout spawning on the mainstem of the Deerfield is not an anomaly. The Deerfield River is a wild trout fishery!

Interim Spawning Study Report and Letter to FERC

http://deerfieldrivertroutunlimited.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Spawning-Survey-2019.pdf


As co-chair of the DRWTU Conservation Committee, Kevin Parsons has submitted a letter along with the interim report from the second year’s spawning study on the Deerfield River to the Federal Energy Resource Commission. Click Here to see Parsons Letter.

DRWTU Annual Meeting/Banquet 2019

Scenic Warfield House – site of the DRWTU Annual Meeting February 23, 2019.

Update: We had a great night at the Annual Meeting/Dinner. Over $2,000 were raised through the auction and raffle and will be applied to Franklin Land Trust’s planned acquisition of riparian land adjacent to the Crowningshield property on the West Branch of the North River.

Original Post: Join us at our Annual Banquet on February 23, 2019 at the Warfield House, Charlemont, MA.  Cocktails at 5:30, dinner 6:30, guest speaker and auction/raffle.  $35 fee for dinner.  RSVP required by email Deerfieldrivertu@gmail.com or call/text Kevin Parsons 413 522 5200.  

We will be honoring Rich Hubbard, retiring Executive Director of the Franklin Land Trust (FLT), with the Bob Anderson Conservation Person of the Year Award.  

Our guest speaker will be Will Sloan Anderson of the Franklin Land Trust who will discuss  FLT’s conservation efforts and how the impact on riparian interest of TU, as well as the history of the TU/FLT relationship at Crowningshield and elsewhere.  

All funds raised in this event will go to FLT toward acquiring and protecting land adjacent to the Crowningshield property in Heath, Ma.  The Crowningshield project is a joint endeavor with our Chapter, the MA RI Council of Trout Unlimited, and FLT.

Come join us to celebrate our incredible year past, honor Rich Hubbard, and raise needed funds to protect critical riparian lands along this most important wild trout headwater.  

Attendees including Sheila Kelliher and Sean Bresnahan at the DRWTU Annual Meeting/Dinner.