Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods & Waters: Charles Liston honored; and a new chair for Zack Porio

The Lenox Land Trust recently informed Charles Liston of Lenox Dale that they have designated him Emeritus Director status in recognition of his many contributions to land preservation in Lenox and Berkshire County. The emeritus letter, which was drafted by Kate McNaulty-Vaughan, Lenox Land Trust (LLT) Executive Board Member and Secretary reads as follows:

"In November, 2016 at the Lenox Land Trust Annual Meeting, the LLT awarded you a special plaque, recognizing your role in forming the Land Trust and your longstanding commitment and leadership of the conservation movement and its early initiatives in Lenox and Berkshire County.

"As one of the first members of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council when it started 50 years ago, you have since distinguished yourself as one of few people who had an unbroken record of support for all 50 years! You were recognized for having been tireless in your role as a surveyor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in assisting in conservation work for the state, for Lenox, and for many regional environmental groups. And for that generosity of spirit, generations to come will enjoy these preserved lands and wildlife.

"You have explored and recorded the boundaries and features of thousands of acres of land. Your expertise and love of natural landscapes resulted in the permanent protection of many of those acres in their natural state. Always on the lookout for special lands and places in your work for the state, you identified land that would be of interest to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, as well as the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and other conservation organizations.

"You also served on the first Conservation Commission in the Town of Lenox and played a key role in obtaining grants for the acquisition of the Post Farm (100 acres) in 1959, and Edith Wharton Park (15 acres) in 1972 --wonderful open space and recreation lands in town. Notably, those acquisitions received 75% reimbursement from the Federal Government, and 25% from the State. When John D. Kennedy donated the southern half of Parsons Marsh to the Town in 1974, you did all the surveying free of charge, which entailed countless hours of work. This is an astounding legacy, perhaps not known to most residents today.

"You can only be described as an avid conservationist and environmentalist. The townspeople and Lenox Land Trust will be forever grateful to you for all these unselfish gifts of your time, expertise, and land, especially that parcel on Crystal Street (Lenox Dale) donated for a small park in 2007. In 2008 the Town of Lenox dedicated that lovely spot as Liston Park to honor you and your late wife Carmen."

May I also add that anyone who has hunted the Post Farm, the George Darey Wildlife Management Area or Hallowell Meadow; or hiked or bird watched at the Edith Wharton Park or Parson's Marsh in Lenox owes Charlie a great deal of gratitude.

We also owe the 95-year-old veteran our heartfelt gratitude for serving in the US Marines during World War II in the South Pacific, notably in the Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa campaigns.

Quadriplegic hunter

Say, remember Zack Porio? He was the quadriplegic turkey hunter that I wrote about in August entitled "Local turkey hunter is an inspiration to us all". (Aug. 13, 2017) To refresh your memory, he is the guy that shot a turkey using his knees as support and pulling the trigger with both hands. After dropping a tom, he had to drive his truck closer to the bird, grab a rope, get into his wheelchair and push it 20 yards over a meadow to retrieve it. He then had to bend over, tie the turkey by its feet, push himself back upright into the wheelchair, put the rope into his mouth and drag the 12-pound turkey back to his truck while pushing the wheelchair.

Well, the local community rallied to the aid of the young man who was paralyzed from the chest down in a dirt bike accident several years ago. The plan was to get the avid hunter a special chair which would allow him to be more mobile in the woods.

Through fund raising dinners, auctions, collection boxes and various events, the community and businesses got together to raise enough funds to enable Zack to purchase that special chair. Quite a different chair than the wheelchair that was featured in this column back in August, hey?

This is what Zack posted on Facebook; "I just want to thank everyone so incredibly much for their generosity in helping me to get this incredible chair. I can't tell you how amazing it was to interact and get out there to play in the snow with everyone again, instead of watching from the sidelines. To be able to move around on my own with almost no limitations and to stand more than I've done in a long while was great and just what I needed to cure the cabin fever of winter. Being outdoors is something that I used to enjoy so much in the past but have dreaded ever since the accident. Now, this chair gives me the ultimate freedom to get around and maneuver the outdoors like I used to love so much.

"I thank you all for coming together to make such a huge difference in my life and giving me the ability to interact with my children beyond the limitations of my wheelchair. Again, I'm just beyond amazed at our community and the phenomenal things that are accomplished when people come together. I want to let you know that the sharing won't stop and that I plan to give others in the community the opportunity to experience a bit of the joy and freedom by extending the offer for others with accessibility limitations the chance to utilize the track chair. Thank you again, Zack."

Trout stocking

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Hoosic River (South Branch) in Adams and Cheshire; Hoosic River (North Branch) in Clarksburg; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Chickley River in Charlemont, Hawley and Savoy; Cold River in Charlemont, Florida and Savoy; Westfield River in Chester, Huntington, Middlefield and Worthington; Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee and Stockbridge, Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton, Housatonic River (Southwest Branch) in Pittsfield, Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, Hudson Brook in Clarksburg, Town Brook in Lanesboro, Goose Pond in Tyringham and Lee; Garfield Lake in Monterey, Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Green River and Hemlock Brook in Williamstown.

Land Acquisition

In his April report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden reported that MassWildlife recently acquired 52 acres off land off of Tannery Road in Otis, MA. The primary feature of the property is approximately 1,500 feet of frontage along the Farmington River. It is accessible from Tannery Road near where the Knox Trail Rider's and the Isaac Walton League Clubhouse is. DFW also picked up a one-acre piece of land along that road for a parking area and access to the river.

Earth Week Stocking Event

MassWildlife invites you to celebrate Earth Week by helping them stock trout on Richmond Pond. You will have the opportunity to meet MassWildlife fisheries staff, view trout up close, and learn about places to fish near you. The event takes place on Thursday, April 19, at 1:30 pm. at the Richmond Pond Boat Ramp off of Town Beach Road.

Acid Rain Monitors are now even more important

If you saw a grown adult poking around in your little neighborhood stream last Sunday, you needn't have been alarmed. Its possible that the person was one of the half dozen local Acid Rain Monitors collecting water samples for UMass. Through fair or foul weather, they have been monitoring Commonwealth waters for over 30 years now. Last Sunday, they were collecting water samples in 20-degree weather. But they are a dedicated lot and most of them have been doing these annual samples, never missing a collection date, for 15-20 years now.

The monitors knew that the water samples collected in our area were brought to Westfield State University to be tested for ph, alkalinity, major cations and anions. But recently, they were informed by UMass that this year the samples will be used as part of Dr. Boutt's Isoscape project, which involves mapping the distribution of hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in surface waters throughout Massachusetts.

Dr. David F. Boutt is an Associate Professor of hydrogeology, watershed hydrology and groundwater recharge/discharge with the Department of Geosciences UMass-Amherst. The goal of this project is to develop a baseline of environmental isotopes to understand hydrologic functioning of surface and ground waters throughout the Commonwealth. The ultimate product of this effort are spatial maps of isotopic composition of surface water and groundwater that will define the isoscape in which we live.

Through a combination of sampling efforts by numerous voluntary contributing organizations and the UMass Hydro Team, they have been able to create a water isotope database consisting of data from all over Massachusetts and much of the Northeast.

Depending on the weight of the water, the source of the water (extra-tropical versus arctic) or the age of the water (recently precipitated versus groundwater) can be inferred. For example, extra-tropical storm waters tend to have a heavier signature whereas Arctic waters tend to be slightly lighter. Precipitation is usually significantly heavier than older water.

So why is this research important? According to UMass, most significantly, the breadth of this project allows them to track the response of watersheds to hydrologic events-whether that be major storms, or droughts. This will especially be significant as climate change begins to take effect and more extreme weather events occur. Water isotope signatures are also useful in other environmental scenarios such as a tracer in contamination scenarios. This project is the first of its kind at the state level in the nation.

Who would have thought that our collectors with their white bottles of water could turn out to be so important in the scheme of things? Most of the collectors are fishermen and women who have a love for and a desire to protect our waters. Also, who would have thought that your little stream in Becket, Sheffield or Richmond would be part of such an important and far reaching study?

For more information about the project, and a definition of isotopes, click onto:

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