On Friday the 25th of June, 2021, we unveiled the three Trout Unlimited benches at the Buckland-Side entrance to the Bridge of Flowers. The cut and polished Ashfield Stone for the benches was donated by Johanna Anderson in honor of her father, Ken Anderson, who was an avid fly fisher and served as president of the Boston Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Installation of the benches was supported by Joe Rae of J.S Rae. The engraving was done by Negus and Taylor of Greenfield. The main bench displays the Trout Unlimited logo. The long front edge is engraved with ‘Deerfield River Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited’. Our Motto, Conserving and Protecting Area Cold Water Resources, is engraved on the top. There is also a QR code on the edge of the bench that directs smart devices to this website. Two smaller benches, each with a beautiful matching streak of quartz, face each other nearby in the little plaza next to the West County Pub. On hand at the unveiling were members of the Bridge of Flowers Committee, and many of the DRWTU Board members – Kevin Kaminski, Jim Krupa, Randy Prostak, Jason Hooper, Secretary Sheila Kelliher, and President Mike Vito. DRWTU Vice President Eric Halloran, who is a resident of Shelburne Falls, opened the ceremony. President Ex-Officio Kevin Parsons, who played a major role in coordinating the effort and who has a business office in Shelburne Falls, spoke briefly in appreciation of all the collaborators on this project. Be sure to check it out next time you visit Shelburne Falls.
Our next Chapter meeting will be held Thursday June 17, 2021 at 6:30 PM over Zoom. We’ll have updates on the Brown Trout Telemetry Study and the Rice Brook Project. After a brief business meeting Tim Flagler will present “What Trout Like to Eat and Flies to Feed Them”. This presentation will include amazing underwater video of acquatic insects, bait fish and crustaceans. Tim Flagler has been fly fishing and tying for over 30 years. He founded Tightline Productions in 1998, a video production company that specializes in promotional and instructional video. Tim is known worldwide for his tying videos. If you have not seen him there, you probably have caught him tying-off with Tom Rosenbauer, or on TU’s national site. Want to join us and not a member or otherwise on our mailing list? Please email Eric Halloran, email@example.com to acquire the zoom link.
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:
At our Chapter Meeting over Zoom on Thursday, May 20, 2021, our guest speaker, Brian Yellen, shed new light on the river we all thought we knew. Every river is different, and every river changes from day to day. This talk highlighted two oddities of the Deerfield River. First, we looked at how the river’s rapidly changing water levels alter its subsurface hydrology. Second, we examined the extent of erosion in the Deerfield River Watershed during Hurricane Irene flooding (2011) and saw that it was a lot more than one might have expected given the amount of precipitation.
Brian Yellen is a research professor in the geosciences department at UMass Amherst. He focuses on earth surface processes, mostly how water and sediment slosh around different environments. He studies dam impacts, dam removals, erosion, and tidal marshes.
You can view the Zoom recording of the presentation here:
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.
DRWTU #349 Chapter Meeting/Rock Rolling in Pelham and Avery Brooks
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.
Mike Vito, president
DRWTU Chapter #349
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!
If you are following DRWTU here or through local media, you know we are embarking on a two year-long study of thirty radio-tagged brown trout in the Deerfield River. This collaboration already involves scores of volunteers from TU and partner conservation agencies, biologists from the USGS Silvio Conte Anadromous Fish Lab, and MA Fish and Wildlife. What should you do if you catch one of those radio-tagged trout?
Please gently and quickly unhook and release the trout back into the Deerfield. Then when you get within cell phone coverage, please call and report the catch to DRWTU President Mike Vito at 413-320-1521. You are going to want to report the catch to MA Fish and Wildlife using the link on our banner above.
What if you ‘take’ a tagged fish legally or find a dead fish with a radio tag? Well, we would hope you would forego taking a fish out of our study, but if you choose to take the fish we can reuse the transmitter. Please call 413-320-1521 to make arrangements to turn it in.
The North River is one of the major tributaries of the Deerfield River; it is designated as a ‘Major River’ by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
At about 12:30 PM on September 1, I observed hundreds of dead fish at my house near the confluence with the Deerfield. I traced the multiple sizes and species of dead fish upstream to the Route 112 bridge at Call Road which is just downstream from this Barnhardt Manufacturing plant. On September 2, the DEP confirmed to reporters that a leak of sulfuric acid had occurred at this Barnhardt cotton processing facility.
CORRECTION: The dead fish included the long-nosed sucker a ‘listed’ species in Massachusetts. Read about the special status of this fish at the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species web page. The photograph below turns out to be a Longnose Dace. This species is not listed in MA. However, Leanna Fontaine is the biologist from MA F&W who was called in after I reported the spill to the MA Environmental Police. She left me a voice message today (9/3/19) stating she had seen multiple species in her sojourn out here to the North River including “black nosed and longnose dace and white suckers and longnose suckers, tessellated darters, common shiners, creek chubs and the like and a a couple of salamanders and crayfish.” So she did find longnose suckers – the species of special interest per the MA Natural Heritage and Endangered species.
Hope this information helps to further clarify the significance of this event.
I reported the fish kill and apparent spill to the MA Environmental Police. They reported it to DEP and a MA F&W biologist was notified and investigated. The media started to report the story on September 2. Here’s a video of fellow DRWTU board member Chris Jackson and I being interviewed by Channel 22 news. Here’s the story as reported by the Greenfield Recorder. Watch this website for updates as this story develops.
Through social media many local residents have expressed outrage about the failure of the plant to get the word out that a dangerous chemical had been leaked into a river that is used for fishing and swimming by their children and families. Many questions are still unanswered. Below are some photos taken by a student at Mohawk Trail Regional High School who lives along this stretch of the river.
Join us in our mission to address this issue and protect and preserve coldwater fisheries including the North River and the entire Deerfield River Watershed. Currently we have several conservation projects planned including a study of trout movement using telemetry and a September 28 river clean-up effort at Bardwells Ferry with our partner organization, the Connecticut River Conservancy. A ‘Rock Roll’ to create a cold water refuge for trout at the mouth of the Pelham Brook will get underway as soon as we get the local permits required. Become a member of our chapter, or make a donation By clicking the button below.
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.