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Posts Tagged ‘watershed’

I know I’m a broken record talking about what one determined person can accomplish, but I want share another example.

At ecoRI News, Sonya Gurwitt writes about a retired Massachusetts harbormaster who made up his mind to put an end to what was polluting a cove near his home.

Horace Field, says Gurwitt, “has lived only meters from Brandt Island Cove for nearly two decades. The water’s edge is connected to Field’s backyard by a short, grassy path. …

“Field wanders through the grasses along the shoreline, untangling the occasional piece of plastic or bit of Styrofoam from vegetation. … Field pinches a a small piece of dirty Styrofoam between his fingers, examining it. This, he said, is a small reminder of the pollution that used to cover the salt marsh — Styrofoam everywhere. …

“It was during his tenure as harbormaster that he noticed more and more pieces of Styrofoam cropping up on his property and along the rest of the Mattapoisett shoreline, from small beads to large chunks.

“The source of the pollution was no mystery — Field knew that the Leisure Shores Marina used uncovered Styrofoam blocks to keep its docks afloat. These were beginning to break down, allowing pieces of foam to float away. …

“In 2005, Field wrote a letter to the Board of Selectmen. He didn’t receive a response or even an acknowledgement of its receipt. Undeterred, Field kept at it — attending town meetings and talking to various committees and boards. …

“It wasn’t until early 2013, after Field retired from the position of harbormaster, that he began to make progress. Fed up with the lack of response from the town and other government agencies, Field contacted the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC), a nonprofit ‘dedicated to the restoration, protection, and sustainable use and enjoyment’ of Buzzards Bay and its watershed.

“Field said the BBC took action immediately, sending a team to examine the problem. …

“With the help of the Harvard Law School’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, [Korrin Petersen, senior attorney for the coalition] began to research which laws the pollution might violate. Petersen said they discovered that the saltwater marsh is a protected resource under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. This meant that the Styrofoam debris altering the salt marsh was a violation of that law. …

“Field said the process taught him some important lessons.

Be persistent, and be honest. Have a cause that is bulletproof, and don’t let up on it until you get satisfactory results.

More here.

Photo: Joanna Detz/ecoRI News photos
Horace Field took it upon himself to get Brandt Island Cove in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, cleaned up.

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Imaginative storm drains are delivering a friendly message about protecting a river to residents who might like to enjoy more recreational river activities. The effort is one of many to improve water quality in Rhode Island.

Frank Carini of EcoRI has the story. “The health of southern New England’s coastal waters and its various, and vital, watersheds is improving, but major challenges remain, most notably stormwater runoff from urbanized areas. …

“Janet Coit, director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), recently told ecoRI News that stormwater runoff is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to protecting the region’s waters.

“ ‘It’s going to require a lot of small actions,’ she said. ‘We can’t deal with stormwater with just big tunnels.’ …

“Urban development has led to increased flooding, beach closures and limited access to waterways, with climate change serving to exacerbate these impacts, including those affecting marine life in Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay and Long Island Sound.

“In many urban areas, however, site-specific efforts to address stormwater runoff are marking progress, according to the fifth annual Watershed Counts Report.

“ ‘The urban projects featured in this yearly report can and should help drive more, broader and integrated initiatives,’ said Tom Borden, program director of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, which coordinates the annual report along with the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island. ‘The benefits are not only environmental and societal, but have a direct link to enhancing the region’s economy.’ ”

More at ecoRI, here.

By the way, if you live near Rhode Island and are interested in doing part-time work as an investigative environmental journalist, they have an open position. See http://www.ecori.org/job-listings.

Photo: Brent Bachelder
The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council is working with artist and educator Brent Bachelder and The Met School to create storm-drain murals, such as this one in front of Donigian Park on Valley Street, along the Fred Lippitt Woonasquatucket River Greenway in Providence.

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I’ve never managed to catch the herring run, but I’d like to see it with grandchildren sometime. The celebration for the Mystic River herring migration offers all sorts of extras, as I learned from the newsletter of the Mystic River Watershed Association, or MyRWA. (I’ve been receiving the newsletter since John’s stint on the board some years back.)

“The annual Herring Run and Paddle includes a 5K run/walk race, three paddling races (3, 9, and 12 miles), educational booths, children’s activities, and more. All events are held at the [Department of Conservation and Recreation] Blessing of the Bay Boathouse in Somerville.”

MyRWA reports, “The Mystic River Watershed supports two species of herring: Alewife (Alosa psuedoharenous) and Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis). Both species, collectively called river herring, are anadromous. This means they spend most of their lives at sea and return to rivers—like the Mystic—to spawn, or lay their eggs.

“In colonial times and earlier, herring in the Mystic River were extraordinarily abundant.  But from the 1900’s until today a much smaller population of river herring is present. …

“According to the Herring Alliance some river herring runs on the Atlantic Coast have declined by 95% or more over the past 20 years. In 2006 the National Marine Fisheries Service designated river herring as a species of concern. Population decline may be associated with numerous factors including by-catch [catching them by accident when fishing for something else], habitat loss and degradation, water pollution, poaching, access to spawning habitat, and natural predators.”

Read more here. And remind me next May that I want to visit a fish ladder.

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