Lauren R. Stevens: A busy 30th is coming for Hoosic River group


WILLIAMSTOWN — The Hoosic River Watershed Association (HooRWA) is celebrating its 30th year of caring for the Hoosic River and its basin. Tonight (Jan. 11,) at 7 p.m., at the First Congregational Church, in Williamstown, board members will sum up some of the projects HooRWA worked on in its 29th year, 2015.

The name of the game is collaboration, such as, near the junction of the Hoosic with the Hudson, a joint effort with the Rensselaer Land Trust and the village of Valley Falls, New York, to demolish a burned out textile mill and convert the property into a 23-acre waterfront park. Then, in the next town upstream, Johnsonville, again with the Rensselaer Land Trust, the effort is to control the invasive water chestnut to provide boat passage.

Plan for war site

Working with the Village of Hoosick Falls, HooRWA is creating a 2.5-mile greenway, partially paved, that cuts through the heart of town on an abandoned rail line beside the river. The watershed association is also cooperating with the New York Parks and the Friends of the Bennington Battlefield on a new interpretive plan for that Revolutionary War site, which is located on the Walloomsac River.

HooRWA, the town of Bennington and the One World Center are establishing the Walloomsac Headwaters Park and Natural Area just south of the Vermont town's center. The watershed association continues to look for ways to reestablish a link to the Taconic Crest Trail and to create a canoe carry around the North Pownal dam.

HooRWA has a longtime involvement with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission regarding the Ashuwillticook Trail and its extension from Adams to North Adams and Williamstown. It worked with Williams College Center for Environmental Studies students to route the bike path across the campus, in conjunction with developing a riverside trail system at Cole Field. Also in Williamstown, the organization is partnering with The Spruces Land Use Committee on the engineering required to convert that parcel into a park; and to plant native species along the drainage swale.

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Concerning projects on Route 2 in North Adams, the watershed association has supported the Flume portion of the Greylock Mill and the Redwood Motel redevelopments. Both projects would provide public green spaces along the Hoosic.

Work with colleges

HooRWA continues to cooperate with Hoosic River Revival in its quest to naturalize the flood chutes in the city. HooRWA partners with the Deerfield River Watershed Association, Massachusetts Trails and Greenways, The Student Conservation Association, the Manice Center, Berkshire Natural Resources Council and other organizations in creating seven new miles of the Mahican Mohawk Trail to join Mohawk Trail State Forest with Savoy Mountain State Forest. The North Adams to Williamstown bike path will be the next leg.

Other projects include river and trails cleanups, such as along Indian Massacre Road, with Pownal residents, and river sections with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Williams College students; and an activities program that introduces people to the river and its scenic watershed.

The reports from the watershed association's ongoing biological sampling of the river show continued improvement in water quality, as do the results of Williams College's PCB studies. Happy 30th, HooRWA!

At least, that's how it looks from the White Oaks.

A writer and environmentalist, Lauren R. Stevens is a regular Eagle contributor.


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