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upcoming events

Nov 1
Committee Meeting, 7-9PM
Tufts University, Tisch College of Citizenship & Public Service, Lincoln Filene Hall, Rabb Room, 10 Upper Campus Road, Medford

Nov 14
Friends of the Malden River meeting, 6:30-8PM Cambridge Health Alliance, 195 Canal Street, Malden



 A Tale of Two Rivers, by Chris Sweeney, details the disparities between the two Rivers in Boston: the Mystic and the Charles. How is it that two of the country’s most historical rivers, located just miles from each other, forged such drastically different legacies? Read the article to find out more - and know that much work is being done on the Mystic by state and federal agencies, community groups and local cities and towns. Won’t you join us and your neighbors in being a hero for the Mystic?


Stormwater Education Collaborative Funded

MyRWA received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Waters Program to support the development of multimedia education program to increase awareness of stormwater pollution for a regional coalition of municipalities. MyRWA was one of 22 organizations in 18 states selected to pursue community-based plans to address pollution in waterways. Read the press release.


67 Tons of Invasive Plants Removed by Hand from Mystic River

Over the course of 22 events from June through September, 835 volunteers helped clean up the Mystic River by partnering with the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA). Working from canoes volunteers removed the invasive plant, water chestnut, by hand. More than 134,800 pounds of plant material were removed from the Mystic River in Medford and Somerville as well as the Arlington Reservoir.

Native to Asia, Europe and Africa, water chestnut thrives in the nutrient rich waters of the Mystic River Watershed – in some places extending nearly shore to shore. This vegetative mat impedes boating, fishing, and swimming and crowds out native plants. Additionally, the decomposition of large quantities of water chestnuts lowers dissolved oxygen, which can lead to fish kills.

“The invasive water chestnuts have been quite a headache for our rowers,” said Rich Whelan, Program Director of the Gentle Giant Rowing Club, who practices on the Mystic River in Somerville. “As they multiply, the lanes of travel on the Mystic narrow and even the slightest misjudgment in course can cause the chestnut plant to become tangled in our oars which has the possibility of causing a rowing shell to flip.  The work the Mystic River Watershed Association has done to remove them from the river has allowed us to continue rowing not only productively, but safely.”

The Mystic River Watershed Association has partnered with boat clubs, municipalities, local corporations, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Charles River Canoe and Kayak and community volunteers to tackle water chestnut since 2010. Progress is also being made to manage water chestnut through a mechanical harvester. Funding for this year’s work has been provided by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Rockland Trust, Wynn Boston Harbor, Riverside Yacht Club, Mystic Wellington Yacht Club and the City of Medford.

“We are fortunate to work with many partners in this effort and continue to see progress year after year,” said Patrick Herron, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association.  “Removing water chestnut is not only a fun way to experience the Mystic, but has meaningful impact on the health of our local river.”

The Mystic River Watershed Association thanks the community volunteers who supported this effort, as well as the following companies and organizations that sent groups of volunteers in 2016:

  • Abt Associates
  • Agero
  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • Appalachian Mountain Club Young Members
  • Athena Health
  • Audax
  • Bank of America
  • Biogen Idec
  • Blackbaud
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA
  • BNY Mellon
  • Boston Cares
  • Boston College Experience
  • Boston University of Virginia Alumni Association
  • CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
  • Constant Contact
  • FedEx
  • Friends of the Mystic River
  • GE Aviation
  • Gentle Giant Rowing Club
  • Groundwork Somerville
  • Grove Street Advisors
  • IHS Markit
  • John Snow Incorporated
  • Kaspersky
  • MA-Dept. of Conservation & Recreation
  • Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
  • Medford Boat Club
  • New England Aquarium live blue™
  • Office of Congresswoman Clark
  • PerkinElmer
  • Solitude Lake Management
  • Standard and Poors
  • Takeda
  • TomTom
  • United Healthcare
  • UU College of Social Justice
  • Xcenda

Food was generously donated by Flatbread Pizza, Papa Gino’s and Whole Foods Market.


Mystic River Park Improvements Launched

On Thursday, October 6, 2016 the Mystic River Watershed Association and Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) kicked-off a series of improvements to Torbert Macdonald Park in Medford. Revitalization projects include newly paved paths, phragmities removal, a volunteer stewardship program – and future amenities such as a river overlook and picnic area. 

More than 80 people attended the kick-off event, including DCR Commissioner Leo Roy, Senator Patricia Jehlen, Representative Christine Barber, and Alicia Hunt from the City of Medford. After the event, 75 Boston Cares volunteers spearheaded the park management efforts.

Boston Cares volunteers from Delta Dental help remove invasive plants from Macdonald Park in Medford, MA.

Through a grant funded by FedEx and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, the Mystic River Watershed Association – together with local cities and towns, community groups, and the DCR – will work to restore habitat in our urban park spaces through invasive plant management planning and events. The project area includes 4.7 miles of riverfront parkland and focuses on the 66-acre Torbert Macdonald Park in Medford.

As part of this work, the Mystic River Watershed Association will engage more than 400 volunteers in invasive plant mapping and removal over the course of two years. Oriental bittersweet, a fast growing, destructive vine which routinely climbs and kills native trees and shrubs will be the principal target of field work.

“Invasive plant management will improve habitat quality in Mystic River parklands and offer meaningful community stewardship opportunities,” said Mystic Greenways Director Amber Christoffersen. “We hope to attract many more people to Macdonald Park and the Mystic River through these park improvements.”

“Thanks to a very strong partnership between the Department of Conservation and Recreation and our friends at the Mystic River Watershed Association, visitors to Macdonald Park in the City of Medford will enjoy new amenities and a healthier ecosystem, which speaks to our shared commitment to caring for the larger Mystic River park system,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy.


Sept. 30, 2016 Walk & Talk: Mystic River Parklands

Walking along the pedestrian underpass at Route 28 in Somerville.On Friday, September 30th, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) co-hosted a Walk and Talk for members of the MA Environmental Collaborative, local stakeholders, and members of the legislature. 

The 30 participants learned about MyRWA's vision for a world-class waterfront park and path system along the Mystic River - ones that rivals the transformation of the Charles River and Boston Harbor. The tour highlighted projects that are underway and proposed to revitalize Macdonald Park in Medford and complete the waterfront path network in Somerville, Medford, Malden and Everett. MyRWA was pleased to have five members of the legislature and two representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, a primary collaborator in this effort. 

The tour was led by Executive Director, Patrick Herron and Mystic Greenways Director, Amber Christoffersen.

Thanks to all who attended!


Environmental Education Internship (2017)

Jan. 23, 2017 – June 30, 2017 (timeframe can be flexible)

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) seeks a motivated, well-organized and creative intern to assist in the development of a new river herring education project. This innovative environmental education project includes a web platform to count river herring via video, an interactive data visualization page to explore data, a teacher resource section with downloadable curriculum, and biological and historical information on herring.

The intern will take this project into local schools and recruit teachers to participate in the program. Responsibilities include assistance in organizing and leading teacher trainings, developing and reviewing curriculum, scheduling and leading classroom visits and overseeing field trips to the fish ladders. This is an opportunity for someone to really develop and mold this exciting, new program!

Intern will work both in and out of the office, and must be able to work independently and as a
member of a team. This is an unpaid position at ~20 hour/week position.


  • Experience in and dedication to environmental education
  • Excellent verbal and written skills and be comfortable leading nature programs for children and adults 
  • Organized and detail-oriented
  • Responsible, reliable, independent and flexible
  • Driver’s license and access to a car highly desirable  (mileage is reimbursed)
  • Candidates must be 18 years of age or older

The Mystic River Watershed Association is an equal opportunity employer. Exact dates can be flexible depending on the candidate. This is a great opportunity to be involved with a small non-profit doing work on behalf of the community and environment.

Deadline to apply is December 2, 2016. Applications reviewed as received. To apply send your cover letter and resume to with Herring Internship in the subject line.


A Q&A With The New Executive Director, Patrick Herron

In case you missed it – MyRWA has a new Executive Director! While Patrick Herron is no stranger to the Mystic or the Association (he’s been with MyRWA since 2009), we thought you’d enjoy learning more about him. We took a moment to ask Patrick a few questions.

What do you love most about the Mystic?

The counterintuitive notion that despite these streams and ponds being surrounded by too much development and pavement, they are still teeming with a fascinating biology of fish, plants and insects.

What MyRWA accomplishment are you most proud of?

Perhaps I am most proud of the combined efforts to reduce the impact of water chestnut in the Mystic River - it mobilized so many resources, put the watershed in the public eye and has singlehandedly put thousands of people on the Mystic who would never have had that experience. It is an accomplishment of board, staff, volunteers, municipalities, boat clubs, DCR and private companies.

What are you excited about for the future?

There are so many things I am excited about: First of all, I am excited by the opportunity to work with my talented colleagues on a daily basis. Second, our programs, like the Mystic Greenways Initiative to improve park space and connections, streaming river herring into Mystic classrooms via video to inspire the next generation, improving water quality conditions with nutrient work and new permits, collaborating with partners like Chelsea GreenRoots, Groundwork Somerville and Friends of Malden River among others - and the challenges of building new capacity within the organization to achieve these goals. 

What are some of your favorite activities to do in the Mystic River Watershed?

I enjoy canoeing on the Mystic River and swimming at Shannon Beach with my family.


Congratulations Patrick!


Massachusetts Rivers Alliance Presentation Oct. 4th

MyRWA is thrilled to announce Massachusetts Rivers Alliance Executive Director, Julia Blatt, as a guest speaker at the October 4th Committee Meeting. Please join us! 

We look forward to learning more about the Alliance and how we can support each other’s work. Come explore how we can enhance our effectiveness as clean water advocates. 

This presentation is part of the Mystic River Watershed Association’s monthly Committee Meeting. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday October 4, 2016 at Tufts University, Tisch College of Citizenship & Public Service, Lincoln Filene Hall, Rabb Room, 10 Upper Campus Road, Medford. Free and open to the public!


Macdonald Park Revitalization Kick-off Event

Please join us!

What: Macdonald Park Revitalization Kick-Off event featuring an address by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner, Leo Roy. DCR and the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) will celebrate fall park revitalization projects underway – newly paved paths, phragmities removal, a volunteer stewardship program – and future amenities such as a river overlook and picnic area. 

In addition to Leo Roy, we will be joined by members of the legislature, City of Medford, local community partners and residents and 70+ Boston Cares volunteers who will be working on park restoration efforts. Details below.

When: October 6, 9:00 a.m. ­‑ 9:30 a.m.

Who: Mystic River Watershed Association & MA Department of Conservation and Recreation

Where: Macdonald Park, Medford (walk the riverfront from the parking lot (corner of Rte. 16 and Rte. 28), staff and signage will direct people)



MyRWA Receives Grant to Address Stormwater in Arlington

MyRWA is pleased to share the announcement of funding through the 319 Nonpoint Source Competitive Grants Program for the Egerton Road Green Infrastructure Demonstration Project in Arlington. The project includes two curb extension bioretention basins at the Egerton Road/Herbert Road intersection - a site previously identified as best meeting technical criteria and community needs by a 604b‐funded development study. These bioretention basins will beautify the streetscape, decrease crossing distance for pedestrians, and reduce the discharge of pollutants into Alewife Brook. The project is expected to begin late spring 2017.


MyRWA and Medford funded to install green infrastructure

Read the full press release from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

On Aug. 31, 2016 the Baker-Polito Administration announced $346,292 in grants to support local efforts to address and treat polluted runoff from roads and paved surfaces to protect coastal water quality. The grants, provided by the Office of Coastal Zone Management’s (CZM) Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) Grant Program, were awarded to Medford, Milton, Plymouth, Salem and Yarmouth.

Medford - $125,000 - The City of Medford, in partnership with the Mystic River Watershed Association, will construct a gravel wetland to treat contaminated stormwater runoff from a municipal parking lot to reduce nutrients and sediment reaching the Mystic River. This project will improve water quality in the river, preserving critical habitat for river herring, and builds on previous work to prioritize stormwater treatment sites in the watershed.

MyRWA is thrilled to work with the City of Medford to address stormwater.



River's Edge Learn to Row Day 2016

Submitted from Preotle, Lane & Associates

Join student athletes from the Tufts University Rowing Team for the second annual River's Edge Learn to Row Day!   On Saturday, September 17th, members of the Tufts varsity team will be leading 2-hour sessions at the Shoemaker Boathouse to enable members of the community to learn about this graceful and challenging sport. Rowing is an ancient sport that offers both a wonderful and peaceful way to enjoy the river, as well as a low-impact full-body workout.

No experience required--- just bring a willing spirit and curiosity to learn!   Sessions are free of charge, children 12 and over are welcome to participate.  Sessions will run at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm. Sessions will not be physically demanding---the emphasis is on fun and learning about the sport--- but dress for athletic activity: comfortable, close-fitting clothes are ideal.  No baggy shorts, please!

Q: Can I try rowing even if I've never done a sport before?
A: Absolutely. Sure, it helps to have participated in sports before but there are plenty of current rowers with rowing as their first sport.

Q: Will learn to row day be strenuous?
A: No, the LTR day is very relaxed and an easy day where we work on the proper technique. Anyone can participate, but expect to get a little sweaty.

Q: What should I wear?
A: You will be a little sweaty by the end of the session, so gym or workout clothes are appropriate. You may also get a little wet from being out on the water. And due to the sliding seat very loose or baggy clothing has a tendency to get caught so avoid wearing it if possible.  Rowers typically wear trou (similar to bike shorts), t-shirt, and a hat and sunglasses are useful for the sunny days.

Q: I can't swim, can I still participate?
A:  Yes, you absolutely can, we will have a coach nearby at all times with flotation devices handy. The risk of ending up in the water is very, very low, but we are ready to assist in the event that it happens. If you are nervous before going out please let a coach or member know.

Q: Is there a bathroom and running water?
A: Yes to both.

If you are interested in joining the fun please email your name, address, phone number, and what time you would like to participate to:  You will receive an email confirming your sign up time.  


Cyanobacteria Bloom in Mystic River

photo by Wilder HuckleberryThe Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria at the Blessing of Bay area in Somerville. Algal blooms can produce toxins that are dangerous to people, animals, and the environment. MyRWA advises you to avoid contact with the river until the bloom has dissipated. MDPH will sample again on August 24.


Mystic River Paddle to the Sea



When: Saturday September 24th (rain date Sun. 25th) meet at 8:30 AM to launch by 9:00 AM

Where: Beginning below the Medford Boat Club on the Lower Mystic Lake with paddling & stops along the way to the Amelia Earhart dam where we’ll be going through the locks. We’ll pull out at the Schrafft Center in Charlestown where we can leave cars in advance for shuttling back to the start. Check out a course map.

Details: For experienced paddlers who can bring their own boat, paddles and Personal Floatation Device (PFD). Estimated return time is 1:00 PM. This will be a fun, relaxed trip with a lunch break at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse in Somerville. We will determine the shuttle closer to the date. Estimated paddling distance is 7 miles.

Questions? Contact Beth at 781-316-3438 or


Celebrate the Mystic - A Farewell Event for EkOngKar (EK) Singh Khalsa

You're invited to attend a farewell event for EK Khalsa on Thursday, Sept. 8th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Come celebrate the Mystic and all that has been accomplished under EK's leadership. The event will be held at the AC Hotel Boston North at Station Landing in Medford. Join fellow friends of the Mystic to wish him well on his next adventure! Get your tickets today.


Press Release: Mystic River Watershed Association Announces New Executive Director 

Arlington, MA– The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) is delighted to announce the appointment of Patrick Herron, current MyRWA Deputy Director, to the position of Executive Director. Herron will begin his new position at the Association on September 12, 2016.

“Patrick Herron has proven to the Board again and again over his over 7 years with MyRWA that he is thoughtful, resourceful, and a visionary,” said John Reinhardt, President of the Board of Directors.  “While we will miss EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, we are excited to engage Patrick Herron for the Mystic River's next chapter as an invaluable urban resource.”

Herron began work with the Mystic River Watershed Association in 2009 as Water Quality Monitoring Director where he managed one of the most successful volunteer-supported water quality monitoring and improvement programs in New England. In 2014 Herron was promoted to Deputy Director where he performed project management and grant writing to help the Association achieve its strategic goals. Herron initiated many of MyRWA’s most innovative and effective projects, including the highly successful Water Chestnut Removal and River Herring Monitoring programs.

Prior to working for the Mystic River Watershed Association Herron earned a PhD in Plant Ecology and Evolutionary Ecology from the University of Connecticut and completed his Postdoctoral research at the Rowland Institute at Harvard University.

“After seven years spent developing and managing projects at MyRWA, I am very excited to lead this organization and speak on behalf of the interests of the thousands of members and stakeholders who care so deeply for Mystic parks, waters and environment,” said Patrick Herron.  
Outgoing Executive Director EkOngKar (EK) Singh Khalsa is stepping down in order to take on new challenges nearer his West Coast family.

The Mystic River Watershed Association was founded in 1972 and is an Arlington based 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to protect and restore the Mystic River, its tributaries and watershed lands for the benefit of present and future generations and to celebrate the value, importance and great beauty of these natural resources.


Strong Herring Migration Documented at Mystic Lakes

Since 2012, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) has been working with hundreds of volunteers to count river herring passing through the fish ladder at the Mystic Lakes Dam to spawn in Upper Mystic Lake. In 2016, ninety trained citizen scientists counted the largest number of herring since the monitoring program began, documenting another strong Mystic River herring migration at nearly half a million fish. This estimate is similar to last year’s migration and represents nearly a 100% increase over the counts in prior years.

River herring collectively refer to two species of herring, Blueback (Alosa aestivilis) and Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus).  These two species are referred to as “anadromous” fish as they live the majority of their life in salt water but lay eggs (spawn) in fresh water. The billions of river herring eggs that are produced in Upper Mystic Lake will develop into juvenile herring within just a few days. These juveniles will stay in the fresh water for up to 4 months before swimming downstream to live in estuarine waters.  The river herring that survive will reach an age to reproduce after 3-4 years and usually return to the same waters where they were born.

The Mystic River is one of 78 river herring runs in Massachusetts. River herring are an important component of ocean fisheries, and they need access to freshwater systems to survive.  Over the past several decades, populations of river herring have dramatically declined.

The Mystic River Watershed Association works each year to train a set of volunteers to perform visual counts at the fish ladder Mystic Lakes Dam. The volunteers agree to perform at least one 10-minute observation each week.  Volunteers in the 2016 program performed 786 ten minute observations and counted 62,562 fish from April through June.  The data are plugged into a sophisticated model developed by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF) that yields the population estimate of 448,060 +/- 48,113 for 2016.

Work is underway to build upon the successes of the Herring Monitoring Program.  MyRWA is working with MA-DMF and local river herring advocates to install a fish ladder at the Center Falls Dam in Winchester to allow herring access to Wedge Pond and potentially Horn Pond in Woburn. Construction of the fish ladder is slated for Fall 2016. MyRWA is working with local municipalities to identify opportunities to improve habitat and water quality throughout the watershed.

Additionally, MyRWA will be bringing the herring migration into local schools through the installation of monitoring cameras at the fish ladder. Students will be able to count fish, interact with data and learn more about the river ecosystem through a new web platform dedicated to the Mystic River herring migration.

“We are excited to expand upon the Herring Monitoring Program and engage youth and the broader public in this annual rite of spring,” said Beth MacBlane, Outreach and Communications Director at MyRWA. “The herring are testament to a vibrant river system that needs to be cared for.”

The Mystic River Watershed is a vital natural resource for the more than 500,000 people who live in 22 Mystic River communities.  For more information about the Mystic River Watershed Association please see


MyRWA Announces New Executive Director

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) is delighted to announce the appointment of Patrick Herron, current MyRWA Deputy Director, to the position of Executive Director effective September 12, 2016.
​Patrick has a PhD in Plant Ecology from the University of Connecticut and has served MyRWA since 2009. In his work both as Deputy Director and as Director of Water Quality, Patrick has demonstrated tireless energy and enthusiasm for our work. In recent years he has initiated many of MyRWA’s most innovative and effective projects. Key among these projects are the highly successful Water Chestnut Removal and River Herring Monitoring programs. Patrick accomplished all this while also managing one of the most successful volunteer-supported water quality monitoring and improvement programs in New England.
Outgoing Executive Director EkOngKar (EK) Singh Khalsa is stepping down in order to take on exciting new challenges nearer his West Coast family. As Executive Director of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, EK will help build organizational capacity and funding to support the environmental restoration of native lands and sacred sites in northern California.

“I have truly enjoyed my time with the Mystic River Watershed Association and I am grateful for every opportunity MyRWA has given me," EK Khalsa said. "I am confident that Patrick Herron will provide the qualified, dedicated leadership that a successful non-profit requires. We are fortunate to have an experienced individual who in addition to knowing how MyRWA functions, has the unique scientific training, intelligence, good humor, and high caliber to lead our newest endeavors."
Additional information about this important transition as well as a farewell celebration for EK on September 8th will be provided throughout the summer. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to Patrick and/or EK with any questions or to share your thoughts.​


Macdonald Park Improvements

A newly paved path in Macdonald Park.Check out the newly paved walking and biking paths in Medford's Macdonald Park, located along Mystic Valley Parkway across from the Meadow Glenn Mall. Through the Mystic Greenways Project, MyRWA is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to improve Torbert Macdonald Park, the largest open space in the Mystic River Reservation. Some sections have already been completed, with more to come. MyRWA and DCR will be partnering to bring more improvements to the park in the coming years, so keep an eye out for ways to get involved. Thank you DCR!


Guest Presentation: Advocating for Clean Water

Erica Mattison, Legislative Director at ELMMyRWA is thrilled to announce Environmental League of Massachusetts Erica Mattison as a guest speaker at the August Committee Meeting. Please join us!

Come explore how we can enhance our effectiveness as clean water advocates.  Learn strategies from the Environmental League’s Erica Mattison, MPA, JD.  Erica leads the Green Budget Coalition and the MA Environmental Collaborative, both of which MyRWA participates in.

This presentation is part of the Mystic River Watershed Association’s monthly Committee Meeting. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday August 2, 2016 at Tufts University, Tisch College of Citizenship & Public Service, Lincoln Filene Hall, Rabb Room, 10 Upper Campus Road, Medford. Free and open to the public!