Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett recently announced the completion of 15 fishing and boating access projects valued at more than $2.2 million.

"Recreational fishing and boating are extremely popular with Massachusetts residents and visitors to the Commonwealth," said Secretary Bartlett. "These projects provide tremendous recreational opportunities for our citizens, and their construction and use generate millions in economic activity."

"We maintain more than 275 fishing and boating access areas that are important to more than one million recreational anglers and boaters in Massachusetts," said Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Mary Griffin. "Construction of fishing and boating access facilities is a great investment in the Commonwealth’s recreational infrastructure."

DFG’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access (FBA) manages the construction, repair and operation of state boat ramps, canoe and car-top launch sites, parking areas and approach roads. FBA oversees facility design and construction, which is usually done by private contractors or municipal public works departments. FBA funds are also used to construct ADA-compliant sport fishing piers and to purchase and improve shoreline fishing areas. A complete list of FY14 projects can be found on the EEA website: http://www.mass.gov/eea.


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Projects completed here in the Berkshires include the following:

Lee -- Laurel Lake: FBA made shoreline protection improvements that cost $11,000. This facility is managed by DCR and includes parking for 20 vehicles with trailers. It offers good fishing for trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch and pickerel.

Otis -- Shaw Pond: This $40,000 project involved parking lot and storm water improvements. The facility is managed by DCR and includes parking for 10 vehicles with trailers. The pond is a good fishing spot for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel and crappie.

FBA is charged with providing boating and fishing access to more than 1,200 miles of seashore as well as hundreds of ponds, rivers and streams. Such facilities give residents and visitors extensive opportunities to enjoy fishing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, waterskiing and motorized boating.

Appropriations for the acquisition, construction, and maintenance activities of the FBA come from several sources: State general funds, bond appropriations, revenue from the sale of the DMF’s recreational salt water fishing permits, and federal reimbursements by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the federal Sport Fish Restoration Act all help fund the FBA projects.

A report prepared for DFG regarding the economic impacts of construction activity managed by FBA notes that the facility constructions create secondary impacts throughout the economy in terms of indirect and induced spending and jobs. Using the report’s methodology, the $2.2 million spent in Fiscal Year 2013 generated more than $3.75 million in construction and engineering services, construction supply and building material industry activity.

The Patrick Administration has invested nearly $6 million on construction and repair of these structures. According to a report by The Trust for Public Land, outdoor recreation generates $10 billion in consumer spending, $739 million in state and local tax revenue and $3.5 billion in wages and salaries each year in Massachusetts.

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All first-time hunters wishing to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must successfully complete a Basic Hunter Education course. This course is designed for novice hunters and is standardized across North America. All government-issued Basic Hunter Education certificates, from any North American jurisdiction, are accepted as proof of successfully completing the course in order to purchase a hunting or sporting license.

There are still openings for the basic hunter course being offered at Pittsfield High School, September 9, 11, 16, 18, 23 and 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. To enroll, call (978)772-0693. 

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Alison Dixon, Berkshire Outreach Manager of the Housatonic Valley Association, asks you to consider helping them update their stream team reports. Volunteers are invited to complete shoreline surveys of 1 and 2-mile sections of the Housatonic River. They can be walked or paddled. There will be a training session in Pittsfield on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at the Berkshire Athenaeum (Pittsfield library) from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Dixon says that it is not rocket science but just recording observations and taking pictures. It is a fun way to help out. Time commitment is about 90 minutes training and perhaps four to do the survey. You schedule the survey time when it fits your schedule.

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Thanks to the Sprague family of Lenox and congratulations to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council for securing the option to conserve the 83-acre Undermountain Farm in Lenox from high density development aa well as the nearby 63-acre northern half of Parson’s Marsh. (The southern half was donated to the town as a sanctuary by Mrs. Olga Weiss, the late John D Kennedy and others). The deal is not yet closed and the marsh is still private property.

Eagle reporter Clarence Fanto’s excellent July 23, 2014 article (Scenic land saved forever) explains some of the particulars of the transaction, though the headline makes it sound like a done deal when in fact, BNRC still needs to raise the money to conserve the property.

Management protocols and the type of public access needs to be worked out, but one thing is for sure -- the public will be welcome on Parsons Marsh if the deal closes and BNRC will be doing its best to ensure that access is welcoming and convenient, an important benefit and one of its main goals.

For some of us, a walk down Undermountain Road is a walk down memory lane when much of Lenox, especially on the east side, was like that with farms, pastures and spectacular mountain views. This is even better. Imagine walking or biking this country road or bird watching in Parson’s Marsh to the sound of the Boston Symphony or James Taylor at nearby Tanglewood. How cool is that?

Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone/fax: (413) 637-1818