Gene Chague: Special events planned for HVA's 75th anniversary

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Earlier this year, I mentioned in this column that there were some important anniversaries being celebrated this year.

The Division of Fish & Wildlife is celebrating its 150th and the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery is celebrating its 100th. There will be more to come on them in future columns.

Well, there is another big celebration being celebrated this year, and that is the Housatonic Valley Association's (HVA) 75th anniversary.

HVA is dedicated to protecting the entire Housatonic River Watershed, which includes 2,000 square miles of land, stretching from Western Massachusetts through Western Connecticut and Eastern New York to Long Island Sound.

HVA monitors water quality throughout the watershed, conducts educational programs, works to link preserved space with the Housatonic River Greenway of hiking and biking trails and uses computer mapping to help towns measure the impact and benefits of land use and development. HVA's offices are in Cornwall Bridge, Conn., South Lee, Mass. and Wassaic, N.Y.

In celebration, HVA is organizing a 10-day, 149-mile, Source to Sound Housatonic River adventure, starting at Muddy Pond in Washington, Mass. on Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22.

It will end at Stratford Point in the Long Island Sound on Sunday, May 1. In our area, paddlers will maneuver beaver ponds in the Housatonic Flats, challenging rapids below the Glendale Dam, meandering flood plains of Sheffield and continue on into Connecticut.

The paddlers are led by three expert paddlers: David Sinish, an experienced kayak/canoe instructor, Dennis Regan, HVA's Berkshire Director and Schuyler Thomson, owner of Thomson Canoe Works in Norfolk, Conn. Many partner organizations from the surrounding watershed will join HVA for this historic river adventure.

On day two, Saturday, April 23 in Pittsfield, HVA and Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) will host the first Earth Day River Festival at the Fred Garner Park starting at 11 a.m. with a park cleanup. Gloves and bags will be provided. Several events, including exploring a restored vernal pool, learning about river bottom critters, and much more will take place. Food will be available to purchase or participants may bring a picnic lunch.

On day three, Sunday, April 24 from 1 to 3 p.m., a river festival will take place at the Lee Athletic Field at Housatonic Street featuring kid-friendly, river-oriented activities (on land) that include fly fishing demonstrations (I hope some volunteer fly fishers help me with this. I don't want to pass on my bad fly casting habits).

HVA's 75th Anniversary Gala will be on Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Bull's Bridge Inn, 333 Kent Road, Rte 7, Kent, Conn. It will feature dinner and entertainment.

Trip sponsors include the NRD Trustees, Connecticut DEEP, Massachusetts EOEEA, USFWS, NOAA, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Kimberly Clark and many others.

For more information, go to hvatoday.org, call 860-672-6678 or email conn@hvatoday.org.

Stocked Waters

The following waters were stocked with trout during the week of April 4: Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland, South River in Ashfield, Swift River in Ashfield, Cummington and Goshen; Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington, Middlefield, Savoy and Windsor; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Chickley River in Charlemont, Hawley and Savoy; Cold River in Charlemont, Florida, and Savoy; Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Stones Brook in Goshen, Town Brook in Lanesborough, Green River and Hemlock Brook in Williamstown, Greenwater Pond in Becket, North Pond in Florida, Mansfield Lake in Great Barrington, Norwich Pond in Huntington, Pontoosuc Lake, Onota Lake and Otis Reservoir.

It was anticipated that the following waters would be stocked the week of April 11: Hoosic River in Adams and Cheshire, Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Williams River in West Stockbridge and Great Barrington, Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee, Konkapot River in Monterey and New Marlborough, Buck and Clam Rivers in Sandisfield, Ashfield Pond in Ashfield, North Pond in Florida, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Lake Garfield, York Lake, Otis Reservoir, Richmond Pond, Goose Pond, Windsor Lake and Windsor Pond.

Have you ever wondered how DFW gets such fine trout each year? Well, if you click onto the MassWildlife Facebook page, you will see an excellent film showing how they spawn out the trout in the hatcheries. Last fall they collected more than 1.7 million trout eggs. After growing in the hatchery for 1.5 to 2.5 years, the trout will be ready for liberation into state waters.

New District Fisheries Manager

Andrew Madden, DFW Western District Manager, has recently announced that Leanda Fontaine Gagnon has filled the position of District Fisheries Manager, formerly held by Dana Ohman, who moved to Ohio last year.

Leanda has been with the DFW for 11 years, most recently as an Aquatic Biologist in the Westboro Field headquarters. She will be leading the regional stocking programs and aquatic resource inventory efforts. With the addition of Leanda, the Western District is at full staffing levels for the first time in two years.

Map, Compass and Survival Course

This is an advanced skills course being offered free of charge by the MA Hunter Education Program.

The next course in the Berkshires is at the DCR Headquarters at 740 South Street, Pittsfield next Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students will be outdoors part of the day, rain or shine. They must come prepared, with a lunch, snacks, water, and a whistle and be dressed for outdoor activities (i.e. sunglasses, long pants, hiking shoes/boots, insect/tick repellent, rain gear and bright-colored outer clothing).

To enroll, call (508) 389-7830.

Wear life jackets

MassWildlife reminds us that paddlers are required to wear life jackets from September 15 to May 15. Remember, most boating fatalities occur when the victim is not wearing a life jacket.

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


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