All told—we raised $4,017 to fund water quality testing at four sites for a full year along the Mystic. Finding and reporting water pollution is the first step in cleaning up our water. And your support on #GivingTuesday is helping us accomplish this! This is one of the many programs run by the Mystic River Watershed Association to protect and restore our local watershed that is home to unique plants and animals—and you!
On November 17th Patrick Herron, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association testified at the public hearing held in Everett by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA-DEP) regarding the Chapter 91 License Application for the National Grid site located along the Malden River. Below is an excerpt from Patrick Herron’s remarks:
“National Grid, as member of the Malden River community and under the jurisdiction of Chapter 91, has an obligation to open up public access along their site and contribute to the waterfront path network planned on the adjacent properties. The public process stewarded by MA-DEP represents an enormous opportunity to change the quality and elevate the status of the Malden River – to make it the jewel of communities of Everett, Malden and Medford and surrounding cities.
Chapter 91 is the Commonwealth's primary tool for protection and promotion of public use of its tidelands and other waterways – this "public trust doctrine” holds that the air, the sea and the shore belong not to any one person, but rather to the public at large.
This site contains filled tidelands and thus falls under Chapter 91 jurisdiction - the purpose of which is preserve and protect the rights of the public, and guarantees that private uses of tidelands and waterways serve a proper public purpose. National Grid’s public access proposal does not meet the intent of Chapter 91 and thus adversely affects the benefits granted under this “public trust doctrine.”
This work is particularly important on the Malden River. The Malden River represents the best opportunity for green space for the residents of Malden and Everett in particular. For years, this river has been walled off to the public because many commercial and industrial users found his land convenient and cheap.
Times have changed. River’s Edge was developed a decade ago and provides beautiful park space. Just downstream of the National Grid parcel, the former GE site is being redeveloped with playing fields and a connected path from the top to bottom. Just upstream of you, Combined Properties will be completing a path at 295 Commercial St. that will connect with parcels upstream to get us to the top of the Malden River. At this point, 2/3 of the waterfront path on the Malden River is complete or in progress.
These are critical investments to provide the community high quality green space – the kind of spaces that have been proven to increase physical health and psychological well-being. As a land-owner of a large amount of waterfront property, National Grid has the potential to contribute to a larger vision for a waterfront park system that connects people to the Malden River.
A seamless Riverwalk would serve thousands of surrounding residents in Medford, Malden and Everett, many of whom represent environmental justice communities. Restoring full public access to river – and creating a community asset for recreation and active transportation – will reverse some of the equity issues that these residents have faced for years.
National Grid has an obligation to do this. But it is more than that; it is a chance to be the change in this community - to build something amazing for these communities.”
Every month thirty volunteers go out before 8AM to collect water quality samples from all over the Mystic River Watershed. No matter the weather—rain or shine, sleet or snow—the volunteers are testing our water quality. The staff at MyRWA are amazed at the dedication and perseverance of these generous citizen science activists. They do this because the data they collect makes a difference.
For the past two years, the Mystic River Watershed Association has published a stream-by-stream Mystic Water Quality Report Card with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Both years, publishing the Report Card led almost immediately to an editorial in the Boston Globe, our region’s most important paper, calling for cities and towns to invest in large scale infrastructure improvements to polluting pipes. Beyond this—the data has resulted in seven municipalities making improvements to their infrastructure to address water quality issues.
Over the past several years we have collected more than 10,000 water quality samples. Although a chunk of the hard field work is done by volunteers, this still costs money. There are expensive lab costs, materials, staff time spent in organizing the work and managing the data. In the baseline program alone, monitoring one of our 15 sites for a year costs $1,029.
So that’s our goal: Raise $3,087 to help pay for three baseline sites on #GivingTuesday. This is triple our original goal—thanks to the generous supporters who have already donated. Help us meet this new goal—as the pollution we detect and eliminate through our science and advocacy will make cleaner water for recreation and wildlife.
MyRWA and partner organizations packed Everett City Hall on November 17, 2016 for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's Chapter 91 License Application Public Hearing for the National Grid site located along the Malden River. The currently proposed public access plan includes a 100 foot path on the north-side of the site – the remaining 2,000+ feet remain blocked off to the public. The testimonies unanimously rejected this proposal, calling for National Grid to build a waterfront path along the entirety of their property, connecting to the planned Riverwalk network that spans both sides of the Malden River.
A total of 19 people testified at the hearing – including the Mayor of Everett, statements from the Mayors of Malden and Medford, six elected officials, the President of the Conservation Law Foundation, MyRWA staff and members, and the Friends of the Malden River. A strong statement was made to support the river. We see this as enormous opportunity to change the quality and elevate the status of the Malden River – a seamless Riverwalk would serve thousands of surrounding residents in Medford, Malden and Everett, many of whom represent environmental justice communities. Restoring full public access to river – and creating a community asset for recreation and active transportation – will reverse some of the equity issues that local residents have faced for years.
MyRWA is thrilled to announce we will be joined by Veronica Eady, VP and Director of Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) Massachusetts, at the December 6, 2016 Committee Meeting. Veronica will discuss CLF’s work in the Mystic – specifically their suit against ExxonMobil. Earlier this fall, CLF “launched the United States’ first legal action against the corporate giant for its climate deceit and for clean water act violations at its oil storage facility in Everett, which sits on the Mystic River.” Read more about their work here. Please join us!
This presentation is part of the Mystic River Watershed Association’s monthly Committee Meeting. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday December 6, 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!
Winchester center is getting a fish ladder! Construction began at the end of October 2016 and is expected to be complete by the end of the year. This spring river herring will be able to migrate further up the Aberjona River, even making their way to Horn Pond.
The installation of a fish ladder is the result of several years of work by local volunteers, Town of Winchester officials, and the Mystic River Watershed Association. MyRWA offers congratulations to all parties involved in this effort!
The Annual Meeting of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) was held on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at Tufts University. As part of the event, the Association awarded Medford resident and City of Medford employee Alicia Hunt the 2016 Mystic Municipal Leadership Award.
The Mystic Municipal Leadership Award honors city officials and staff who have made an outstanding contribution to improving the condition of the Mystic River and its tributaries. Alicia Hunt, Director of Energy and Environment and Environmental Agent for the City of Medford was recognized as a reliable and passionate advocate for the Mystic and Malden Rivers. She has catalyzed the municipal relationship with the Association and served as liaison to the Mayor’s office. Alicia has garnered municipal support for water chestnut removal and is invested in the EPA Mystic River Steering Committee. Recently, Alicia has been a leader in developing the Clippership Connector – a focus of the Mystic Greenways Initiative that connects Medford center with Riverbend Park.
“Alicia is a reliable active participant around a variety of Mystic River projects and issues,” said Beth MacBlane, Outreach and Communications Director at the Mystic River Watershed Association. “She serves as a role model for municipal involvement and we are thrilled to recognize her good work.”
The Annual Meeting of the Mystic River Watershed Association was held on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at Tufts University. As part of the event, the Association awarded Winchester resident John Kilborn the Ripple Award of dedication and appreciation. The award highlights the work of an individual that impacts the larger community.
John Kilborn was recognized for his successful advocacy for the installation of a fish ladder at the Center Falls dam in Winchester Center. His interest began in the spring of 2012 upon seeing herring schooling at the base of the dam – unable to migrate any further upstream to spawn. Since that time, John has succeeded in galvanizing community interest and municipal support for the project. Construction of the fish ladder – including a public viewing platform – began at the end of October.
“John has truly been a leader for the Winchester fish ladder. The results of this work allow for an important natural history reconnection – the herring will be able to once again freely make their way to Horn Pond this spring. We are incredibly grateful for his efforts to see this project through to further restore the herring run in the Mystic River watershed,” said Beth MacBlane, Outreach and Communications Director at the Mystic River Watershed Association.
The Annual Meeting of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) was held on October 26, 2016 at Tufts University. As part of the event, the Association awarded Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Rene Morin the Mystic Champion Award. The award recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond to improve the Mystic River environment.
Rene Morin is the Field Operations Team Leader at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation – leading the crew that maintains the entire Mystic River Reservation. He is responsible for keeping the Mystic safe and clean by maintaining beaches, removing snow, and keeping paths and riverfront areas clear of vegetation and debris. His work is instrumental to the Association’s stewardship efforts that bring thousands of volunteers to the river each year – he helps at river and park cleanups, removing the invasive Oriental bittersweet vine at Torbert Macdonald Park in Medford, and moves canoes and plant material at MyRWA’s water chestnut removal events.
“I have worked with Rene for years and he is someone you want on your team - he’s always pleasant to work with, enthusiastic about our projects and available at a moment’s notice to help. His dedication to the Mystic is truly inspiring,” said Beth MacBlane, Outreach and Communications Director at the Mystic River Watershed Association.
At the 2016 Annual Meeting participants helped define their vision for the Mystic River and its watershed. As part of the activity, attendees worked in small groups to brainstorm their ideas for a cover story twenty years from now – in 2036. Using the recent Boston Magazine article about the Mystic River as inspiration, participants developed their own headline, quote and photo for their 2036 vision.
Themes from across the groups emerged, including abundant wildlife, access, healthy water quality, swimming opportunities and a boat rental facility. Fun and creative headlines were developed, for example: “From the Most Polluted Harbor to Healthiest River in Country,” “Our River is an Honor Student: A+ for Mystic,” “Herring Can Be Fished and Eaten,” “Water Taxi: Assembly Sq. to Boston,” and “Mystic River 4th Annual Triathlon Champion Named.”
The activity informs the Association’s vision for the river and provided an opportunity for staff and members of the Board of Directors to have a dialogue with MyRWA members, volunteers and Mystic enthusiasts about their concerns and dreams for the River. MyRWA is pleased to share that everyone envisioned a positive future for the Mystic!
Thanks to all who attended the meeting and provided their vision – together we will continue to see improvements in and along the Mystic!
MyRWA is excited to share that we will be working with local schools to connect students to the river herring migration through a new program. Funded by a US EPA Environmental Education grant we will design and install a video system and web interface that enables students to monitor a major fish migration and participate in fish counts. Two underwater video cameras will be installed – one at the Upper Mystic Lake Dam in Medford and the second at the fish ladder in Winchester Center which is now under construction. MyRWA will work with teachers in local K-12 schools to develop curriculum around herring, environmental science and the Mystic River that will be housed on the new webpage. Students will also take field trips to the dams to witness the migration first hand. MyRWA is excited to share this rite of spring to a larger audience, further connect people to the river, and also gain a deeper understanding of the Mystic River herring migration. For more information about this new initiative please contact Beth.
Please join the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition at Mount Wachusett Community College on November 18th, 2016 from 9:00 am to 11:30 am to consider cost-effective stormwater solutions for cities and towns.
This free meeting will include a roundtable discussion of participants views on local stormwater needs. You can view meeting details and register online at Eventbrite.
The 11/18 meeting will have expert speakers on runoff remedies, costs of Best Management Practices, EPA municipal (MS4) permits and stormwater assistance programs. Municipal officials, stormwater committees, highway departments, lake associations, watershed groups and concerned citizens will gain practical guidance to help improve the health of streams and lakes.
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?
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.
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
- Allstate Insurance Company
- Appalachian Mountain Club Young Members
- Athena Health
- Bank of America
- Biogen Idec
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA
- BNY Mellon
- Boston Cares
- Boston College Experience
- Boston University of Virginia Alumni Association
- CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
- Constant Contact
- Friends of the Mystic River
- GE Aviation
- Gentle Giant Rowing Club
- Groundwork Somerville
- Grove Street Advisors
- IHS Markit
- John Snow Incorporated
- MA-Dept. of Conservation & Recreation
- Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
- Medford Boat Club
- New England Aquarium live blue™
- Office of Congresswoman Clark
- Solitude Lake Management
- Standard and Poors
- United Healthcare
- UU College of Social Justice
Food was generously donated by Flatbread Pizza, Papa Gino’s and Whole Foods Market.
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.
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.
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!
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 30, 2016. Applications reviewed as received. To apply send your cover letter and resume to WQInternship@MysticRiver.org with Herring Internship in the subject line.
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.
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!