Our monthly chapter ZOOM meeting will be held on Thursday, April 15th at 6:30 pm. Our featured speaker will be Dr. Shannon White, a postdoctoral researcher at the US Geological Survey Eastern Ecological Science Center where she works on the conservation genetics of fishes of conservation concern. She will speak about her work on native brook trout genetics and movement in the Loyalsock Creek watershed in Pennsylvania. A key finding from her research is the importance of rare habitats and fish behaviors for understanding and improving brook trout conservation. Her talk will highlight a few of these studies and the implications for future management of native fisheries. Dr. White is familiar with our current Brook Trout protection and enhancement project on Rice Brook in Charlemont. Information from her research will give us some guidance on best practices to help manage the Deerfield River Watershed’s native brook trout population, the largest in Massachusetts.
Members and friends can locate the zoom link in the email announcement for the meeting. See you on April 15th!!
Joellen Lampman to present ‘Don’t Get Ticked on the Stream’ at March 18 DRWTU Meeting.
Avoiding Lyme and other tick-borne diseases requires avoiding a tick bite! Join the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program’s Joellen Lampman as she talks about the different ticks in our area and their biology, the diseases they carry, and how to protect yourself and others from being bitten.
Joellen Lampman is Community IPM Extension Support Specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. With a degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University, Joellen is a lifelong environmental educator. At the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program, she utilizes the clear knowledge-based, decision-making process of IPM to teach ecology and make a difference, one property at a time. In some circles she is also known as the tick lady.
Please reserve the date for our upcoming, joint regional chapter Zoom meeting on Thursday, February 18th at 6:30 pm. Deerfield River Watershed TU will be joining the Connecticut River Valley TU (Deerfield watershed VT) and Southwestern VT TU (Battenkill, Walloomsac, Hoosic, etc.) on this ZOOM meeting and talking about the various projects our chapters are working on. We’re also inviting all the fishing guides in these regions to attend. This meeting is open to ALL members of each chapter. DRWTU members can expect an email message coming soon with the ZOOM meeting link.
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:
Our October chapter meeting was held on the Fourth Thursday of October – October 29 – and was held over Zoom! We covered a lot of ground since our last meeting was in February and a lot has happened in the meantime. The featured speaker was Tim Flagler, who presented on the topic of Trout Spey. Tim is an excellent presenter who many of you are probably already familiar with, through fly fishing shows as well as the quality videos he has produced for Trout Unlimited and Orvis. His production company, TightLine Videos, is top-notch.
We will be sending out the links via email to view Tim’s presentation which we taped for members who could not attend. If you are a member and you don’t receive the email by November 5, please contact us by leaving a comment here on the website or emailing DeerfieldRiverTU@gmail.com. Please feel free provide feedback about the Zoom meeting in the same manner. Here’s a quick feedback form you can use to let us know how you feel about virtual meetings. Click Here to view the form. So far we have received very positive feedback about the meeting and about Tim’s presentation.
What is Trout Spey?
Trout Spey is nothing new, it’s just a more effective way to swing flies like streamers, soft-hackles and classic wets. Yes, you can use it for nymphing and dry fly fishing, but swinging and stripping is where trout spey works best. The real difference comes when you employ either single-hand or two-hand spey casting techniques. These make for no back casts to worry about, much longer casts, easy, fast changes of cast direction, more effective mending and generally more relaxing fishing. Find out about it in the video we taped on the 29th.
Tim provided this info about the trout spey setups he recommends:
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.