Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Fall trout stockings about to begin

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Don't put that trout rod away just yet. According to MassWildlife, fall stocking begins this week. Close to 60,000 rainbow trout that are 12 inches or longer and at least 4,000 brown trout about 9-plus inches long will be stocked across Massachusetts this fall. As of this past Wednesday, no waters have been stocked yet.

Here in the Western District, the following waters are usually stocked in the fall: Ashfield Pond, Deerfield River, Littleville Lake, East Branch of the Westfield River, North Pond, Upper Highland Lake, Pontoosuc Lake, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Windsor Lake, Otis Reservoir, Onota Lake, Richmond Pond, Stockbridge Bowl, Goose Pond and Windsor Pond. Depending on water conditions, the East Branch Westfield River may not be stocked.

Fall fly fishing can be very enjoyable. With the cooler, more comfortable weather the fish seem to reappear again. The brook trout take on their brilliant fall spawning colors. About the only downside to fall fishing is the fact that anglers will be hooking their flies into lots of drifting leaves.

Nice bass

Earlier this summer, 18-year old Kyle Gochey, from Great Barrington, caught a 6.13-pound largemouth bass out of a local lake. While fishing with his dad, Ray Gochey, Kyle caught it using a zoom green pumpkin worm out of a bass boat. Ray said that Kyle has been bass fishing with him for over a decade, so this isn't a fluke.

Happy Birthday DER

The Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) is celebrating its 10th anniversary and a decade of work helping to restore the landscapes of Massachusetts. DER initiates projects that restore and protect rivers, streams, wetlands and watersheds in Massachusetts for the benefit of people and the environment.

In particular, the DER has been very successful in urban river projects to rejuvenate and restore channelized and built up rivers. Working with cities and community advocates, these projects address bank erosion, create habitat, reduce river instability, and create public access to rivers. DER partners with nonprofits, towns, individuals, and groups to implement projects. These projects improve habitat for wildlife and provide many benefits to communities such as reducing flooding and improving water quality and public safety.

Here in the Berkshires, the DER, or its predecessor MassRiverways, removed such dams as the Silk Mill and Balou dams in Becket, the Old Berkshire Mill dam in Dalton, the Briggsville dam in Clarksburg and it is currently planning the removal of the Mill St./Tel-Electric dam in Pittsfield.

Westfield River Watershed Blitz

On Sept. 28, there will be a wild and scenic watershed blitz, a full day of exploring from 9 a.m. to 3. It will be taking place on the East Branch of the Westfield River between Savoy and Cummington. Each participant needs to register and pick a specialist listed below.

After gathering at the Cummington Town Park, groups will walk the river corridor with their chosen specialists then gather at the Cummington Community House to share their findings and

The specialists, as described by the event, are as follows:

"Lauren DiCarlo — Restoration Ecologist will visit two local sites with future plans of restoration. How do you restore a terrestrial site and which goals are feasible? Learn how to assess land degradation and manage vegetation and wildlife in riparian meadows and stream banks.

"Karen Hirschberg — Professional botanist will team up with Amy Pulley from A Wing and a Prayer Nursery to explore a segment of the stream bed that still has many native plants. Let's see how many they can find. This will help inform and inspire the Cummington Town Park restoration project. Help them Imagine a Wild & Scenic River walk and restored bank to delight the community and its beloved pollinators.

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"Carrie Banks — Division of Ecological Restoration will visit two sites where new culverts will help improve habitat and restore a more natural stream flow. Learn what happens when a culvert is undersized and how informed citizens can make all the difference when it comes to identifying high priority projects.

"John Burns — Burns Environmental will take a close look at the natural communities along the East Branch. Learn how to promote diversity, be inspired by complexity and protect the watershed through your actions. This is an adventurous hike with one river crossing, bring your walking sticks.

"Tarin Weiss — Professor of Geology, Westfield University will look at the geology along the East Branch. The dance of land and water dictate topography, stream flow and how people fit into the picture. So much beauty under your feet.

"Dave Christensen — Fish Biologist and Cindy Delpapa - Water Quality specialist will be teaming up to look at the Windsor Jambs State Park. Enjoy getting your feet wet? This group will be identifying fish and estimating their abundance in a segment of the East Branch.

"Tom Tyning — Hoffmann Environmental Center BCC. How many different kinds of Newts and Frogs can you find slithering and hopping along the East Branch. Bring your sense of humor and a willingness to get in the muck!!

"Jeff Penn — Avid hiker and architect, will lead an adventurous hike to the area of the East Branch referred to as the Pork Barrels. See how many small potholes you can find, a testament to the waters hand in sculpting the land through this wild section of the river. The river will be crossed bring your walking sticks and stable footwear.

"Liz Lacy — National Park Service will be on hand to answer all your questions about what it means to be Wild & Scenic, how the National Park Service and community members fit in. Liz will also be adding features and your knowledge to a map of the town park in preparation for a bank restoration."

Wow! This looks to be an enjoyable and informative day. This yearly event is geared to teens and adults. Participants must be at least 12 years of age and have an adult in attendance.

Recovering America's Wildlife Act

A bill called the Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA, HR 3742) was recently introduced in Congress and is considered one of the most important wildlife conservation bills in decades. This bipartisan legislation would dedicate $1.3 billion in existing revenue annually from the U.S. Treasury to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters.

The Massachusetts SWAP identifies over 500 species of greatest conservation need, and RAWA would provide over $12 million each year to protect and manage these species and their habitats in Massachusetts. Scientists estimate that 1/3 of wildlife species in the United States are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without much-needed funding for their conservation.

Conservation, business, government, and education leaders have come together in the Alliance for America's Fish and Wildlife to create a 21st-century funding model for critically needed conservation of our nation's most precious natural resources — our fish and wildlife.

RAWA, introduced by Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), could go a long way towards achieving the Alliance's vision.

"RAWA is a smart upstream policy that promotes continuity of habitats and helps prevent the costly downstream emergency room procedures of the Endangered Species Act. Through proactive, collaborative, and voluntary partnerships with states, RAWA enhances community recreational opportunity for birders, hikers, hunters, anglers and all who enjoy the beauty of nature," said Fortenberry.

Gene Chague can be reached at or 413-637-1818.


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