Be sure to join us for our Chapter Meeting over Zoom at 6:30PM on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Our guest speaker will 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 will highlight two oddities of the Deerfield River. First, we will look at how the river’s rapidly changing water levels alter its subsurface hydrology. Second, we will examine the extent of erosion in the Deerfield River Watershed during Hurricane Irene flooding (2011) and see 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.
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.
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.
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.
Members of Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited and friends spent three days identifying and recording data for redds on the Upper Deerfield in November and early December 2018. Blowout flood conditions during the month of October forced a frustrating cycle of scheduling, cancelling and rescheduling survey dates. Despite weather conditions that were less than favorable, 17 volunteers led by Erin Rodgers and Mike Hayden found 30 redds on November 17 and 18. Another 50 redds were recorded by teams led by Mike Hayden under more favorable conditions on December 1.
Our Chapter has been selected by TU National to receive the 2018 Gold Trout award. This prestigious award is awarded annually to the Chapter which has “taken innovative and thoughtful approaches to build and expand community and advance TU’s conservation mission”. Of the 420 Chapters, DRWTU has been recognized by TU as its top Chapter for 2018.
Inspired by the DRWTU spawning study, MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is commencing a long-term study of the brown trout population on the Deerfield. Here’s a May 9, 2018 statement from Adam Kautza PhD, Coldwater Fisheries Project Leader: “We have completed adipose fin clipping to mark the standard annual allotment of all 1000 hatchery Brown Trout that are stocked into the upper Deerfield River. These marked fish will be going out to the river within the next two weeks. Please be aware that there are other hatchery-origin Brown Trout already in the system from past years’ stockings that have not been marked with an adipose fin clip. Physically marking the Spring 2018 Deerfield River batch of hatchery Brown Trout stands as an initial step in a larger effort to learn more about the Brown Trout population in the upper Deerfield River, both hatchery-origin and wild, stream-born fish. Marking of hatchery fish, together with other elements of the Deerfield River Brown Trout Study, will continue for several years. We would like to note that the impetus for this project has largely been through a collaborative effort including meetings and ongoing discussions among Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Trout Unlimited (in particular, the Deerfield River Chapter and the Massachusetts-Rhode Island Council), as well as input and assistance from a number of other interested parties and individuals from UMass, USGS, local Deerfield River fishing guides, and local watershed groups.”
Please report all of your encounters with brown trout (both with the adipose fin and without) here.