November 23, 2009
The Fort River Festival: Science and Advocacy
We need your help! Your donations are essential to allow Rushing Rivers to continue providing community outreach events like the Fort River Festival. The link between community enjoyment and investment in local resources like the Fort River and a clear scientific understanding of how to protect these resources has never been more important.
Please donate at: Rushing Rivers Institute
Waterway protection finds its greatest strength when the community appreciates and understands the needs and vulnerabilities of their local rivers and streams. The Annual Fort River Festival has been a splendid opportunity for Rushing Rivers to bring the community of Amherst and neighboring towns together to explore and celebrate this meandering river. Rushing River’s staff presented a guided two hour canoe trip observing Blue Heron, protected Wood Turtle, and other wildlife. They detailed the vital fish habitat that is the Fort River, threats to the river, and the best methods for studying and protecting this resource. With help from several area businesses and environmental organizations; live music, a complimentary lunch, the Duck Derby and other kid friendly activities completed the Festival. Go to: Fort River Festival to see a movie of last year’s festival. Help us continue this event.
If you are a Florence Savings Bank customer, consider nominating Rushing Rivers (and the Fort River Festival) for FSB’s Customer Choice Community Grants Program. “This program, now an annual event, allows the bank’s customers to vote for their favorite nonprofit organization to receive a share of a $50,000 grant.”
Rushing River’s has applied for a federal grant to continue this event, and to parlay community interest into the Fort River Research and Education Initiative. This grant would offer opportunities for scientific exploration to children and young adults, while taking advantage of the wealth of environmental experts to provide monitoring and research data to area town managers, and advance river science globally. However, even if we are awarded this grant, it will not provide for the organization of this year’s Fort River Festival.
Please donate at: Rushing Rivers Institute
Rushing River Institute in Madrid!
Dr. Parasiewicz, and Joe Rogers, traveled to Spain in October. They presented an annual two -tiered course in our MesoHABSIM Instream Data Collection and Modeling protocol. MesoHABSIM represents a unique, cost effective tool for evaluating freshwater habitat and designing effective management. The participants evaluated the course very highly. New course schedule is coming. Please stay tuned.
Renewed protection for Massachusetts Rivers:
Rushing Rivers Institute offered to participate in providing recommendations for new Massachusetts waterway management regulations now being developed. Massachusetts Rivers are stressed by seasonal drought, as well as by the ever increasing drinking water needs of our cities and towns, and the competing water demands of industry. Responding to intense lobbying from environmental research and advocacy groups, like Rushing Rivers, the Patrick administration has reconsidered disturbing changes it announced to the state’s working definition of Safe Yield, on October 8th of this year. Public protest has elicited new temporary standards, which will address habitat protection. Additionally, the administration has agreed that all water use permits issued will eventually be subject to the more stringent standards now being developed. The state has also requested scientific assistance in determining the new standards for water withdrawal.
History: Safe Yield is a legal standard which informs the amount of water that may be withdrawn from our state’s rivers and streams. Safe Yield was previously understood to represent the flow of water that could be safely diverted from rivers and streams, during times of stress like drought, and still preserve the species that lived there. The state had decided to delete any reference to the preservation of species from the standard, and to define safe yield as “the maximum amount of water that would be present during a drought.” Effectively, they could drain a river dry. How could this standard have offered any protection for our waterways?
Many recent advances in river science arise from experts like Dr. Parasiewicz, here in Massachusetts. At Rushing Rivers Institute, we develop technology and conduct scientific studies of waterways, and the flora and fauna they host. Scientific knowledge and technological tools have greatly advanced our ability to understand fresh-water habitat, anticipate stressors applied by Climate Change, and calculate sustainable management guidelines for our rivers and streams. Massachusetts seems poised to take advantage of this wealth of scientific expertise. Rushing River’s welcomes this opportunity for our community to design better management regulations, and therefore improve the protection of our vital river resources.