Spirit of TU : Kevin Kaminski

Kevin Kaminski preps for a Telemetry run.
Kevin Kaminsky preps for a telemetry run to gather data on brown trout.

DRWTU received national attention when Board Member Kevin Kaminski was recognized for his contribution to our Brown Trout Telemetry Study and received the Spirit of TU Award. This is the first year that TU has chosen to grant the award to recognize “emerging leaders and unsung heroines and heroes who exemplify the spirit of TU. Folks who have set a positive trajectory for their conservationist future as up-and-coming leaders in their efforts to bolster the TU coldwater conservation mission.”

“When the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, we almost had to shut down our mobile Brown Trout Telemetry study,” said Michael Vito, president of the Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited (DRWTU) Chapter #349. “But Kevin stepped up and took on the mobile project himself, doing the work that 30 volunteers had been doing until Covid hit.”
Since October 2019, the DRWTU chapter, along with biologists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Eastern Ecological Science Center/Silvio O. Conte Anadromous Fish Lab in Turners Falls, MA, has been tracking the movements of 30 Brown Trout surgically equipped with radio transmitters. DRWTU members, USGS biologists, along with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, are hoping to learn about any impacts the daily, hydro-peaking flows from Brookfield Renewable Power Companies Fife Brook Hydro-Electric Dam and Bear Swamp Pump Storage Facilities has on the daily lives of these Brown Trout, especially during the fall spawning season. A big part of the project initially had roughly 30 DRWTU volunteers attaching a single mobile-receiver system to their vehicles, driving up and down the 8.5-mile test area and capturing location data from the trout’s transmitters. But then Covid-19 nearly shut down the project. “Health guidelines told us we couldn’t allow 30 people to share a single, mobile receiver unit,” Vito said. “But then Kevin stepped up and offered to do the receiver runs himself. He saved this project. We’re all so grateful to Kevin.”

Here’s a video that describes Kevin’s role in keeping the project going: