The Massachusetts Sub-Council of the Housatonic River Natural Resource Trustees, comprising the Executive Office of Environmental and Energy Affairs, MassDEP, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will host an information session on Monday, August 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Lenox Library, 18 Main Street. The session will discuss potential land acquisition projects before the Housatonic River NRD Land Protection for Habitat Conservation.

"The Housatonic River watershed is one of the most diverse and natural areas in the Commonwealth," said EEA Secretary Rick Sullivan. "This next round of funding for land protection and habitat conservation will add to the more than 100,000 acres already conserved by the Patrick-Murray Administration."

"As we work to preserve, protect and rehabilitate the damaged Housatonic River and its watershed, a key component will be the projects that focus directly on repairing and restoring the natural resources throughout the waterway," said Mass. DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell.

The final Round 3 Restoration Plan outlines the Massachusetts SubCouncil's approach for the third round of the restoration program to restore, rehabilitate, replace, or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources or the services provided by those resources. The projects could include compensatory restoration through land acquisition or land protection measures.


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"This funding allows us to focus on protecting water, land and habitat in Massachusetts, all of which will benefit the future of a healthy Housatonic River," said USFWS New England Field Office Supervisor Tom Chapman. "From its headwaters in the Berkshires south to Connecticut, the Housatonic supports an abundant amount of wildlife and many special species and this settlement funds the work of residents and officials to ensure that for our future."

At the public meeting, the SubCouncil will present the final plan and the approach for soliciting, evaluating and selecting Round 3 projects. Round 3 of the Housatonic River Watershed Restoration Program will distribute about $2 million for land acquisition and habitat conservation projects from $7.75 million received as part of the settlement.

As the Commonwealth's procurement rules prohibit MassDEP or any other RFR issuer from consulting with potential applicants to develop project ideas, potential applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting to refine project ideas and obtain feedback.

In Round 1, the SubCouncil awarded $4 million for restoration projects ranging from invasive species control and restoring river flow to implementing an environmental literacy program. In Round 2, the SubCouncil awarded $1.3 million to five projects addressing habitat continuity restoration, wildlife resources protection, riparian buffer and floodplain forest restoration, invasive species control and educational programming.

Information about the Housatonic River Watershed Restoration Program in Massachusetts is available online at www.ma-housatonicrestoration.org. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Robin MacEwan of Stantec Consulting Inc., at robin.macewan@stantec.com or by calling (413) 584-4776.

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Last week I wrote about a friendly wild visitor (deer) to a local home. Thanks to the several people who sent me pictures of tame deer and related articles following that piece. Today, I am mentioning another wild visitor, this one not friendly at all. I am referring to the fisher. Some prefer to call it a fisher cat, but it is not a feline at all.

The fisher is a medium-sized mammal which is a member of the weasel family. The fisher is closely related to but larger than the American Marten. It is one mean critter and if you have a cat or small dog in your household, better keep an eye on it.

George Chasse of Lenox related an event that happened to one of his neighbors on July 4. A fisher almost snatched a little fufu dog right in front of the owners.

Fishers have been known to walk right up to people who are walking their dogs and grab them. If you walk a small dog, you might want to bring something with you to fend them off. You are allowed to take measures to protect your property. George keeps a garden hoe on his front porch, just in case a fisher comes after his dog.

If you let your dog out before retiring for the evening, you might want to stay outside with it until it is ready to come back in. Perhaps you should keep your cats indoors at night, too.

Although fairly common in the Berkshires, it is illegal to hunt these animals, as they are protected in the Commonwealth. There is a trapping season, which runs from Nov. 1-22.

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The DFW's Becoming an Outdoorswoman Program will be partnering with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to offer families new to camping some opportunities to try this family-friendly outdoor activity. New this year, instead of one weekend, several Outdoors Family Camping Weekends will be offered in several parts of the state.

Registration materials are posted online on the Outdoorswoman Events calendar at www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/education-events/outdoorswoman-events.html. Registration preference will be given for those families new to this program.

These weekend experiences are designed for families who are beginning campers. Depending on the location, activities may include: Camping Fundamentals, Nature Walks and Plant Identification, Fishing, Archery, Nature Center Exploration, Live Animal Program, Outdoor Cooking and an Evening Campfire Program.

The DCR will handle the registration for these events. The Outdoors Family Camping Weekend in our area will be at the Tolland State Forest on Aug. 10-11.

To reach Gene Chague:
Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com,
or (413) 637-1818.