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.
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.
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: email@example.com. You will receive an email confirming your sign up time.
The 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.
**EVENT AT CAPACITY, 9/21**
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
This event is at capacity as of 9/21/16!
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.
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.
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 www.MysticRiver.org.
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.
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!
MyRWA 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!
Get the next LandLine ride on your calendar! LandLine is MAPC's vision to connect our greenways and trails into a seamless network. The plan has been developed in coordination with the LandLine Coalition, a group of 40 volunteers representing a number of local agencies and advocacy groups.
How can you assign a value to a healthy environment? Are you curious about how ecosystem services analysis or other tools in environmental economics could be applied to the Mystic? Please plan on joining Nejem Raheem, Associate Professor in the Department Of Marketing Communication at Emerson College at the Mystic River Watershed Association’s July 5th Committee Meeting. Nejem Raheem has over 10 years of experience as an environmental economist. His expertise is in economic analysis of natural resource and environmental issues, focusing on ecosystem services and traditional or indigenous economies.
This presentation is part of the Mystic River Watershed Association’s monthly Committee Meeting. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. on July 5, 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!
On Wednesday, June 15 the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) will launch the seventh year of water chestnut removal efforts. Native to Asia, Europe and Africa, water chestnut thrives in the nutrient rich waters of the Mystic River Watershed, including the Arlington Reservoir– 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.
Volunteers from the local area will hand-pull this invasive plant from the Arlington Reservoir – an initiative funded through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program. Bank of America, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FedEx, Southern Company and Alcoa participate in this conservation program in support of the environment and helping our local communities.
MyRWA partners with corporations, local businesses, and community groups throughout the summer to offer fun and rewarding group volunteer opportunities. Using canoes, volunteers pull water chestnuts out of the water by hand and collect the material on shore for composting.
Additional events are scheduled for the community to be involved on Saturdays, June 18th, July 16th and July 30th. Events run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. All supplies are provided for these family-friendly events. The June 18th event will tackle water chestnut at the Arlington Reservoir on Lowell St. Check the website for locations of the July events. Boats are limited so please register in advance at www.mysticriver.org/water-chestnut-removal-project/.
If you have any questions contact the Water Chestnut Project Coordinator at waterchestnut@MysticRiver.org.
For the second year the US EPA issued localized water quality grades to provide information on how frequently Mystic waterbodies meet standards for swimming and boating. We are pleased to share that the Mystic River (fresh and salt water sections) received an A- , the Mystic Lakes an A+ and Chelsea Creek an A-. These water bodies meet bacteria standards for swimming and boating on average greater than 85% of the time. That's right -the Mystic River is a great place to go boating and the Mystic Lakes are a great place for a swim! The grade also shows that much work lies ahead in realizing the promise of the Clean Water Act in many of our water bodies. For example, the Malden River is a C, the Aberjona River is a C+ and Alewife Brook is a D. Please explore conditions and read the US EPA press release. View a map here.
Press release from the MA DCR:
DCR Recreational Advisory: Temporary Path Closures in Medford’s MacDonald Park
WHAT: On or about Wednesday, June 1, 2016, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will be closing segments of the MacDonald Park Pathway System for reconstruction and restoration.
Sections of this pathway are suffering from unsafe edges, pavement deterioration and root damage. The project will include reconstruction, rerouting, loam and seeding shoulders and erosion controls to protect the adjacent Mystic River. The DCR will also be removing one segment of overgrown and unsafe asphalt path.
Alternative routes will be open and available along Mystic Valley Parkway.
WHERE: MacDonald Park, Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford
WHEN: Expected, Wednesday, June 1 to June 30, 2016
Wild Tales presents “SONG OF THE RIVER” - a children’s theater production about the Mystic River. The play explores the effect that invasive water plants have on the river’s well-being, and it is filled with a fanciful collection of birds, fish, dragonflies, mermaids, people and a big orange harvester named Hannah. It is being performed at SCATV (Somerville Community Access TV) in Union Square on Saturday, June 11th at 2:00. It is free and funded by a grant from the Somerville Arts Council.
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) president Bradley Campbell announced a major lawsuit against ExxonMobil for its decades-long climate deceit on May 17th. This is the first lawsuit against ExxonMobil since revelations last September that the corporation has engaged in a deliberate cover-up of sound climate science for over thirty years. The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and Chelsea Green Space joined Campbell at the press conference.
MyRWA's Executive Director EkOngKar Singh Khalsa gave the following comments:
The Mystic is a great river, a river of history. Mystic River communities are among the most diverse and densely developed in the Commonwealth and for the past forty years many people and many organizations including the Mystic River Watershed Association have fought to restore the river to good health.
As a result, it is very disappointing to learn that ExxonMobil is violating its own Federal permit and regularly discharging pollution to the Mystic River. It is very disheartening to learn that ExxonMobil has done nothing at its Everett facility to protect the community from climate change impacts which it has apparently known are coming for quite some time.
In the Mystic right now, one of New England’s largest migrations of river herring is underway. Hundreds of thousands of fish will pass up the Mystic River and through the Mystic Lakes dam to spawn in Upper Mystic Lake. This wonderful natural phenomena, which has continued without break for the last ten thousand years, needs to be protected. This river is a living system visited by striped bass and harbor seals - where wildlife seeks refuge and eagles fly overhead.
In the City of Everett great effort is being made to reconnect the community to its waterfront at the Wynn Resorts site and elsewhere. Just one half-mile up river from where we are, the City of Somerville and Federal Realty are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to improve life on the river’s banks at Assembly Row. John Preotle is restoring the Malden River at River’s Edge and Tufts University has brought its rowing team to practice there.
In Chelsea, Everett and East Boston, local community activists are finding ways to bring people to the river, inspire young students to learn more about the local environment and to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for Mystic River communities.
It is tremendously unfair that one of the world’s largest corporations is putting all of this work in jeopardy. It is time for ExxonMobil to step up to the plate to address the ongoing harm it is causing our river and our community.
We are very grateful that Conservation Law Foundation is holding ExxonMobil accountable for its actions and for CLF’s promise to help protect and restore the natural environment of the Mystic River.
View a video of the press conference on CLF's Facebook page (you don't need to sign-in to Facebook or have an account to watch this.)
Watch EK's WGBH interview.
Mystic River Watershed Association is collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to revitalize MacDonald Park, the Mystic River's largest parkland and open space amenity. This is an important project of MyRWA’s Mystic Greenway Initiative - a multi-year effort to revitalize the waterfront with a seamless network of paths and parks.
To make this park one that is used and treasured by the thousands of people that live, work and play in the area, we need to hear from you! Please fill out this survey or draft a letter to DCR by May 26th to share your ideas for this park revitalization project.
To see more information on the park improvement in the DCR’s presentation from May 11th.
The public is invited to submit comments after the meeting either online or by U.S. mail addressed to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA. Comments must be received by DCR by the close-of-business on Thursday, May 26.
By John Kilborn, Winchester resident, with help from John Shawcross, Ann Storer, and Beth MacBlane
The Mystic River watershed, including the Aberjona River in Winchester, supports one of the largest upstream runs, or migrations, of river herring in Massachusetts. Efforts are underway to build a fish ladder in Winchester, which could increase the number of migrating herring, perhaps making the migration the largest in the Commonwealth.
Each spring, schools of river herring swim up the Mystic River from the Atlantic to spawn (lay eggs) in the fresh waters of the watershed. The adults quickly return to the ocean after spawning, but the juvenile fish grow and migrate back to the ocean in late summer and fall. Most herring spawn in the same river system where they were hatched.
These small but numerous fish are an important part of the ecosystem. They provide food for marine mammals like whales; land animals; fish, such as striped bass; and local birds, such as, herons and eagles.
Historical records discovered by the Town Archivist from the 1870s confirm that there was an active herring run into Winchester, and “great numbers” of herring were taken for food and other purposes. In 1870, Winchester built a fishway over the Central Falls dam in Winchester center at Main Street. In 1872, it was reported that the herring “swarmed in our waters last spring.”
But by the early 1900s, the herring migration was likely blocked by dams and other man-made obstructions, and water quality was poor. In 2011, however, the state constructed a fish ladder in the Mystic Lakes dam that allows the herring to bypass the dam and swim farther upstream. This ladder has opened up significant new habitat suitable for herring reproduction. In 2015, the number of fish using the ladder almost doubled, perhaps as a result of the additional habitat.
The fish are now blocked by Winchester’s Central Falls dam. (This is this semi-circular dam next to Lincoln School and across from the Library.) Last June, thousands of fish were stuck in front of the dam, and observers said that it looked as if you could cross the river on the backs of the herring. When the dam’s floodgates were opened, the fish quickly swam up river—all the way to Horn Pond in Woburn, which could provide significant new breeding habitat.
Local volunteers, Town of Winchester officials, and the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) have been working to install a fish ladder in Winchester’s Central Falls dam. This ladder will allow the herring to pass up and down river, while allowing the Town to control the water levels of the Mill Pond by the library.
With funding from the En Ka Society, MyRWA tested the quality of the Aberjona for two years to ensure that it was good enough for spawning and fish growth. Although the Aberjona has some water quality impairments, none are significant enough to stop the migration.
The good news is that construction of a fish ladder at Winchester’s Central Falls dam may begin this November. Agreements for the construction are not yet complete, but a final design is being prepared. The performing parties at a Superfund cleanup site in Woburn have preliminarily agreed to fund construction of the ladder. In addition, the state will make improvements to a spillway in Horn Pond to ease fish passage into Horn Pond. If the fish can get up to Horn Pond, the Mystic River watershed has the potential to support the largest run of herring in Massachusetts.
This community effort to construct these fish ladders is a critical step in restoring the Aberjona and larger watershed. The fish ladders will open new herring habitat that will help increase the herring population. That, in turn, will support many other kinds of wildlife. Winchester has a unique opportunity to restore the herring migration to its past glory. The Aberjona can again become a living river, and we can all see the herring in their “great numbers.”