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upcoming events

August 4
Committee Meeting, 7-9PM
Robbins Library, basement conference room, 700 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington

August 8
Water Chestnut Community Event, 9:00AM-1:00PM
Blessing of the Bay Boathouse, 32 Shore Drive, Somerville, MA

August 18
Greening Malden & Everett Charrette
Malden Library, program room, Malden


Update on the Mystic River Reservation Master Plan

Mystic River Reservation Master Plan Update, June 18, 2015 –

A Report from DCR’s Dan Driscoll – by Ivey St. John-Charlestown Waterfront Coalition


In 2009, the Department of Conservation and Recreation published a conceptual Master Plan for the renovation and improvement in the Mystic River Reservation,  defining the plan area as from Belmont’s and Arlington’s Alewife Brook along the Mystic Valley Parkway, to Medford & Somerville, to the Alford Street Bridge in Charlestown. 

The area includes both sides of the Mystic and the Malden River, but does not include Mary O’Malley Park in Chelsea at the base of the Admiral’s Hill development.  In the six years since publication, some exciting steps have been taken despite budget cutbacks.


Alewife Brook Area:

The Minutemen bike and pedestrian pathway from the Alewife T Station along the Alewife Brook section of the Mystic has been completed, thanks to shovel ready construction drawings and the 2009 Stimulus Program.  The federal stimulus funds regulations drove significant ecological improvements along the trail.  In addition, the Department of Transportation has supported the trail by including new lighting,

and pedestrian and bike improvements to the bridge at the confluence of the Mystic River and Alewife Brook.


Pathway along Mystic Valley Parkway:

Dan reported that he needs $250,000 to $300,000 to do detailed design and construction drawings for pathways along the Mystic, and to create a multi-use path welcoming to the disabled. 

In addition, he estimates up to $1 million is needed annually to keep all pathways in the Reservation in good shape.  In today’s frugal environment, that goal does not yet seem achievable.


Auburn Street Bridge to Craddock Dam:

This area is a little hard to define.  Some who travel Rt. 16 north and then east regularly will be familiar with the U-Haul Garage and parking lot, followed by the MBTA Commuter Rail Bridge.  The next crossing into Arlington is the Auburn Street Bridge.  The Craddock Dam supports the roadway into Medford Square from Rt. 16/Mystic Valley Parkway and Mystic Avenue.

In this area, the City of Medford has restored the pathways, moved the parking area near the Condon Shell back from the river, and built canoe access.  Historic markers note the Middlesex Canal and Medford waterfront history of constructing clipper ships. Further improvements await significant new funds to take down the Condon Shell and replace it with a disabled access shell and repaired and reconstructed bike lanes.  Medford has set aside $450,000 to develop a master plan for the area, including expanded bike lanes.  The City expects to hold a public meeting on that plan in September.


Craddock Dam to Rt. 28 Bridge:

This area is largely taken up the McDonald Park, a DCR Park that was poorly designed at its inception.  The Mystic River Watershed Association and local businesses and residents are forming a advocacy group to press for significant improvements to the park.  It is requires major reconstruction and will need significant financial support.  Pathways need to be redesigned, the State Police Station should be moved, and invasive species cut back and controlled.

East of the Rt. 28 Bridge, the Mystic shore and park (Baxter Park) along Assembly Row has been beautifully reconstructed and improved by Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT).  Members are encouraged to stroll the park when visiting Assembly Row stores.


Wellington Greenway:

This pathway stretches from the Rt. 28 Bridge at Station Landing along the north edge of the Mystic, under the Orange Line Bridge, and will ultimately be open all the way to the Wellington T Station just south of the Rt. 16 Bridge over the Malden River. The Rt. 16 Bridge is slated for reconstruction, and will have two pedestrian/bike underpasses on each side of the Malden River.

This area is extraordinarily beautiful, and abuts the Tufts Boathouse and John Preotle’s River’s Edge mixed use development.  The Malden River, despite its badly contaminated sediment, is a lovely pastoral sight, and worth a visit.


Draw 7 Park to Alford Street Bridge:

This area includes the drafted but still not certified plan to build a pathway from Draw 7 Park in Somerville to Rt. 99/Alford Street along the edge of the Mystic River.  Federal Realty Investment Trust has pledged $500,000 for use to develop Draw 7 Park. There is an effort being made to connect Draw 7 and Assembly Row by multi-use path to Sullivan Square through the MBTA yard downstream from Draw 7. To address a failing headwall on the edge of this proposed path, the MBTA has received a large federal grant with which it can complete the required structural improvements. 

Dan and the MBTA have been brainstorming ideas for the repair of this collapsing Mystic edge bulkhead in order to stabilize it to allow the pathway connection between Draw 7 and Alford Street.  Dan believes the T will have to build out into the river some in order to achieve retaining wall stability.  Here, there may be an opportunity for a much wider path then originally planned.

An additional note, Dan has approached the Wynn team about a grant of $8 to $10 million to fund construction of a pedestrian/bike bridge over the Mystic just above the Amelia Earhart Dam.  If Dan is successful in coaxing that grant out of Wynn, he reports that with the reconstruction of the MBTA bulkhead pathway adjacent to Alford Street, a complete circle will be open so that bikers can travel in a circle of connecting pathways around the Charles and Mystic Rivers. 




Citizen scientists document dramatic changes in number of herring at Mystic Lakes Dam

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 Mystic Lakes Dam to spawn in Upper Mystic Lake. In 2015, the citizen scientists were able to document that an estimated nearly half a million river herring swam through the fish ladder to spawn – a 100% increase over the counts in the previous three 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 2015 program performed 680 ten minute observations and counted 57,617 fish.  The observations and counted fish are plugged into a sophisticated model developed by the Division of Marine Fisheries that yields the population estimate of 477,827 +/- 40,674 for 2015.

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries released a statement on the outcome of the 2015 Mystic Count: 

The Division of Marine Fisheries is very pleased to see the excellent return of river herring to the Mystic River this year.  The large increase in returning herring gives us confidence that the restoration of access to Upper Mystic Lake has benefited this population.  The Mystic River is now one of the largest runs in the Commonwealth and even more so as it has both alewife and blueback herring in the run.  The Mystic River Watershed Association has done an excellent job coordinating a very well run volunteer count and acting as stewards of the river.  Information about the abundance of herring complements the biological sampling DMF does on the river and also provides context about Boston Harbor runs in the context of a statewide monitoring effort led by DMF.  We look forward to working with MyRWA, DCR, and all other partners to benefit river herring and other diadromous fishes in the Mystic and Aberjona watersheds. 

The question that is on everybody’s mind is “What is the explanation for the dramatic increase in the number of fish observed in 2015?” The Mystic River Watershed Association and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF) are exploring this question. One explanation might be that since large numbers of river herring were not able to access the additional habitat in Upper Mystic Lake before 2011 when the new dam and fish ladder were completed, we might be witnessing a true increase in the adult population that results from providing additional quality habitat for spawning.  The fish count in 2016 will contribute to an understanding of this year’s numbers. If the numbers stay high, it may be evidence that the population has increased in a sustainable way.

"The scale of this herring migration shows the Mystic River to be a living, breathing ecosystem, filled with life," says MyRWA Executive Director, EkOngKar Singh Khalsa. "It may be hard to see that life from Interstate I-93, and it is easy to take this urban river for granted.  But the herring run speaks to the importance of treating natural spaces in urban areas with great respect and care. We can live alongside nature, if we are thoughtful."

Work is underway to build upon the successes of the 2012-2015 counting programs. MyRWA is working with MA-DMF and local river herring advocates to see a fish ladder installed at the Center Falls Dam in Winchester center to allow herring access to Wedge Pond and potentially Horn Pond. MyRWA is working with local municipalities to identify opportunities to improve habitat and water quality throughout the watershed.


What's Happening to Carp in the Mystic?

Many big carp have died recently on the Mystic.  Dead carp have been sighted all up and down the river, from Lower Mystic Lake all the way to the Amelia Earhart dam.  We have reported the event to state agencies including the Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) and had conversations with fish experts at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

The state experts' best understanding of this is that it is a natural die off resulting from stresses from spawning in combination with some environmental factor (changes in water temperature, bacteria or virus that specifically affects carp, etc.).   

An important clue here is that seemingly all the fish are one species (carp) and one size class (large).  This leads the fish scientists to ask what might affect a group of fish at once like this, in this pattern.  Spawning is a huge energy cost to fish, and the stress of spawning leaves them vulnerable to infections and other stresses from the environment.  All the fish we are seeing may have been in the same physiologically stressed condition and all intolerant of whatever led to death. If these were spawning fish subject to stress or infection that has spread through their community, this would explain both why we see one size class and why they are dying more or less all at once.

We do not believe that there is evidence that this die-off is the result of pollution. In the past two weeks, two slicks were reported to DEP at specific locations in the lower stretches of the river, something MyRWA has also been tracking.  But the fish die-off phenomenon extends all up and down the river and affects only large carp.  If a pollutant were the cause, the effect would not be limited to one species and one size of fish.  So this event calls for another kind of explanation.  

We also do not believe that the cause is low dissolved oxygen levels (another common cause of fish kills).  There is no evidence of dramatically low dissolved oxygen levels along the length of the Mystic, and carp are, in any case, among the most resilient fish in the face of low oxygen.    

So the evidence suggests that is a rare, but essentially “natural” die-off, affecting only one species.  It’s a dramatic event.  These are large fish.  But we do not believe that it is the result of water quality issues in the Mystic, and we do not think that wildlife in general or people are at risk from whatever is causing it.

We are keeping an eye on the situation for sure.  We will report any new information in our website.  The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has a web posting that has information that covers similar ground.  

Please let us know if you see significant mortality among other kinds of wildlife, of course.  Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has a web page on fish kills, and a number to call to report information.   

For more information on fish that seem to be doing extremely well this season, see our River Herring Monitoring page.  


Posted by Andrea Ritter



A Glance Inside the 2015 Root Cause Social Innovation Forum

                                                                                                                   2015 Social Innovators, Photo by SIF

This year, the Root Cause Social Innovation Forum named the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) as one of seven nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston to receive more than $135,000 in cash and capacity building services from Root Cause and its partners.  MyRWA was chosen to join the team of 2015 “Social Innovators” for the Urban Sustainability: Greener and More Resilient Cities social issue track, sponsored by the Schrafft Charitable Trust. Other Social Innovators that were chosen include: Catie’s Closet, Company One Theatre, Courageous Parents Network, Massachusetts Public Health Association, Press Pass TV, and Waypoint Adventure.

The objective of the Social Innovation Forum is to help nonprofits become more professional and more effective organizations. Root Cause and the Social Innovation Forum create a rich network of successful and innovative nonprofits, Boston area philanthropic foundations and individual professionals who want to support social change by effectively deploying the resources they have available.

On Tuesday, May 5, the 2015 Social Innovators were given their first opportunity to showcase their work to leaders from the local public, private, and nonprofit sectors at the Root Cause 12th Annual Social Innovator Showcase.

                                                                                                                                                    EkOngKar Singh Khalsa presenting, photo by SIF

Each Social Innovator was given just five minutes to make a targeted appeal to modern philanthropists who were excited to learn about the work that they do.

“Every word during that five minute pitch was carefully selected.”

- EkOngKar Singh Khalsa

EkOngKar Singh Khalsa (also known as EK), the Mystic River Watershed Association’s Executive Director and MyRWA’s Deputy Director, Patrick Herron along with a team of support spent dozens of hours paring down a 20 minute speech into a five minute informative, engaging, and result driven presentation given in coordination with a professionally prepared PowerPoint and - without the use of a single note card!

“It took a great deal of work to shape the presentation.”  - EK

MyRWA was supported by Tanya Inwald, a consultant engaged by the Social Innovation Forum, who worked with EK every step of the way. Tanya evaluated the mission, short and long term goals, strategic plan, funding, and operations of the Association. She asked the tough questions: what exactly was MyRWA accomplishing and how well was the association fulfilling its mission? Following Tanya’s thorough investigation, and graphic arts support from Lily Robles of Opus Design, a powerful PowerPoint presentation was created.

The next step was to concentrate on the delivery of the presentation. Julie Pierce, Managing Director of the High Lantern Group, donated her time and experience by providing strategic communications counsel and support. Julie helped EK discover the best possible way to craft his message to engage stakeholders and advance MyRWA’s objectives. Margie Zohn, Facilitator and Executive Coach from the Ariel Group donated her time to help EK strengthen his presentation skills and presence.

“It was a powerful experience to do this work. It reshaped our understanding of how best to share with the general public, colleagues, and supporters what it is we are doing and how we create social change. One of the strongest realizations we had during this process was to recognize the tremendous impact our work has on the hundreds of thousands of people who live in Mystic River communities.” - EK

As you will see in this video shot by Team SIF, EK’s presentation was a triumph: 2015 Social Innovator Showcase: Mystic River video.  

The showcase itself also turned out to be a smashing success with over 300 attendees eager to learn more about each of the 2015 Social Innovators and the work they are currently doing and plan to do with the right amount of funding and support.

“It was interesting to see the confluence of interests we have with other innovators and their work.” EK

Through the remainder of this 24-month long project, MyRWA staff will continue to receive extensive professional consulting, executive coaching, legal counsel, and other in-kind services. MyRWA will also have the opportunity to participate in various networking events, becoming part of the Social Innovation Forum’s growing circle of nonprofit, business, government, and foundation leaders.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Mystic River Watershed Association to reflect, grow, and then launch ourselves into the next chapter of our work with the extraordinary support and guidance of the Social Innovation Forum.” - EK

MyRWA couldn’t be happier about this exciting partnership. We are thrilled to be a part of the SIF Team including so many wonderful innovators that came before us. Thank you to all those that have helped us thus far on this new journey and to all those that will continue to believe in us and invest in us in the future.

“MyRWA is the voice of this river and is leading the way to a healthy Mystic for everyone!” EK


Posted by Andrea Ritter


Outreach for Impact

                                                                                                                                                             Photo by David Mussina

At the Mystic River Watershed Association where our mission is to protect and restore the Mystic River and its tributaries including 44 lakes and ponds and serving 22 communities, it is impossible to do it alone. Therefore, we look to our community of conservationists to help create awareness of the need for aid in healing the Mystic River and to promote the value and importance of this beautiful natural resource. 

Every year, MyRWA joins other innovative and impactful non profit organizations at local fairs and neighborhood festivals to spread our mission and invite community members to do their part in cleaning up the Mystic.


Community volunteers with an interest in education and outreach sign up through MyRWA's volunteer site to help the Mystic River Watershed Association in the capacity of acting as a liaison at local events.


MyRWA volunteers are given both informative outreach materials and fun participatory activities to take to festivals such as: enlarged maps of the Mystic River Watershed, urban trail maps, newsletters and brochures, a magnet board that teaches kids how and what is recyclable through a hands on activity, river herring fish to color and place along the paper river, and lots of giveaways to take home. Volunteers also invite attendees to sign up for more information about the Mystic River Watershed Association and learn how they can get involved with the organization.

The photos to the left are from MyRWA Volunteer, Sarah Braun, who volunteered to table at this year's Fresh Pond Day in Cambridge hosted by Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation and the Cambridge Water Department. Fresh Pond Day was a successful and well attended event that received a great deal of positive feedback from the community! 


Winchester Town Day was another incredibly successful event that exceeded all expectations thanks to MyRWA volunteers and support from John Kilbourn of the EPA. 

At this particular event, MyRWA and John's main goal was to create awareness of the need for a fish ladder in Winchester. River herring life cycle posters were placed at the Winchester Main Street Bridge which provided context to this year’s historic herring run. Thousands of river herring whose upstream impulse was impeded by the Mill Pond Dam could be seen from the bridge. Adults from Winchester spoke to our volunteers about how they had never seen anything like this; children were in awe.

                                                                                                                                               Photo by David Mussina

According to MyRWA Volunteer, David Mussina, "John had the perfect setting to talk to a spellbound audience, Senator Pat Jehlen among them, about the proposed Winchester fish ladder thanks to our third and fourth year returning herring, clearly thriving in the their expanded habitats of the Upper Mystic Lake and Aberjona River. I even heard several people at the bridge talking about the need of a fish ladder at Horn Pond. Most heartwarming and significant for me was hearing from people how the abundant return of the river herring gave them for a change some “good” news."

                                                                              Photo of river herring near the proposed fish ladder by David Mussina

Thanks to the support of John and MyRWA volunteers like David Mussina at Winchester Town Day, the following Monday the storm drain located within Winchester’s future fish ladder was opened. The draining of Mill Pond created a channel enabling the herring to swim upstream!

So far this year, MyRWA Volunteers have tabled at: Earth Day Celebration at Menotomy Rocks Park, Fresh Pond Day in Cambridge, Spy Pond Fun Day in Arlington, and Winchester Town Day

If you would like to join our incredible team of education and outreach volunteers and do your part in being the voice for the Mystic River fill out this form and make an impact with us!

Posted by Andrea Ritter 


River Herring Numbers Continues to Rise at Upper Mystic Lake while Depleting Elsewhere



For the past three years, the arrival of spring has brought not only the river herring to the Mystic Lakes to spawn, but also dedicated monitors observing their passage up the fish ladder. Each year the herring count has steadily increased from the 21,025 herring initially reported in 2012. This past year amounted to an impressive 31,063 river herring.

Yet, never before has the count increased at the dramatic rate observed this year. The first herring sighted in the Upper Mystic Lake arrived on April 30th, since then monitors have counted an incredible 42,982 herring! This mass migration has shown no signs of slowing and we are excited what the rest of the counting season holds. 2015 is proving to be a monumental year to observe the river herring at the Mystic Lakes!

Why are we seeing so many fish this year?  Other sites are seeing unusually low counts this year (read about it here).  One exciting possibility is that we are seeing the positive result of building the fish ladder at Upper Mystic Lake.  At the age of 3 or 4, herring tend to return to the fresh water areas in which they were born.  This is now the fourth year since the fish ladder installation.  

What we may be seeing, then, is a real increase in the adult population of herring that call the Mystic their spawning home. By effectively expanding the breeding habitat into Upper Mystic Lake, we may have provided more opportunity for more juvenile fish to successfully survive to adulthood. It is probably too early to come confidently to this conclusion, but if it’s true, it would be a tremendous success story of local wildlife conservation, documented entirely by citizen science volunteers.   

For more information about the herring life-cycle see the Gulf of Marine Research Institute's explanation, linked here. Stay tuned.  We will be consulting with experts at the Division of Marine Fisheries over the next weeks and month, and let you know what their interpretation of these exciting numbers is.

In the meantime, keep up the amazing citizen science work!

Posted by Andrea Ritter



Tour of Award Winning Alewife Stormwater Wetlands - Saturday, June 6

The Medford Garden Club is providing a tour of the award winning Alewife Stormwater Wetlands as part of the Mystic Alewife clean up! 


We will meet at 9 am on Saturday at the  Alewife Stormwater Wetland for a special tour arranged by Garden Club member, Fred Laskey.  If you are driving, you can park just beyond the Cambridge Park Road Access. Then, walk down the line of shrubs to the information kiosk.

Be sure to wear sunscreen and insect repellant!

Directions to the Sat., June 6th, Tour of the Alewife Stormwater Wetland:

To get to the wetland, which is located behind the MBTA’s Alewife Station:

-- Take Rt. 16 to Alewife Station and turn right at the light at the Alewife parking garage onto Cambridge

Park /Drive:

-- Drive to the end of the street, and on the right, next to a building under construction, is an access lane to the wetland and to the bike and pedestrian paths. The access lane is marked with a granite post.

--At the end of the access lane is an informational kiosk. This kiosk is where FredLaskey will be awaiting people to begin the tour at 9 am.


Posted by Andrea Ritter

Green Infrastructure Workshop

The US Environmental Protection Agency is teaming up with the City of Boston Parks Department for a FREE Green Infrastructure Workshop!

Learn about the benefits of green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, that are designed and built to aceept stormwater runoff from urban surfaces. These landscaping-based systems reduce the impact of stormwater on local waterways while also providing an aesthetic amenity to public and private spaces.

At this 2- day workshop you will learn:

- Fundamentals of Green Infrastructure

- How to size and site a rain garden

- Materials needed

- Plant selection and care

- Hands-on rain garden installation

- Short and long term- maintenance


Day 1: Tuesday, June 9, 8:30am-4:00pm (Training)

Day 2: Wednesday, June 10, 8:30am-12:30pm (Rain Garden Installation)


Maverick Meeting House - 31 Liverpool Stree, East Boston, MA


All are welcome!




For registration and the agenda:



For questions or further information contact Myra Schwartz:


Posted by Andrea Ritter 


Public Forum regarding 378 Commercial St, Malden MA

Please come and support public health and our river! Update:  Honeywell International, Inc. has responded timely to the petition signed by Malden residents. This plan will be presented to the citizens on June 4th at the Malden Public Library (Maccario Room) at 6:30PM.   All documents pertaining to the 378 Commercial Street site will be sent to the library for citizen viewing prior to the meeting. You can access the draft PIP on the MassDEP website by clicking this link:

We invite you to attend and become a part of a local effort to clean up the Malden River. Ask questions, get involved and seek a better Malden and Mystic River.
WHEN: June 4, 2015 at 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm 
Malden Public Library, 36 Salem Street, Malden, MA 02148.




Herring Run & Paddle; another SUCCESS for the Mystic!


Photo by Arturo Gossage

On Sunday, May 17, 2015 the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), along with 35 community volunteers, 19 local businesses and organizations, and over 400 racers from near and far all gathered at the DCR Blessing of the Bay Boathouse in Somerville, MA to celebrate the return of the river herring. 

Community volunteers, MyRWA staff, and staff from Platinum Sponsor, Charles River Canoe & Kayak arrived bright and early Sunday morning to begin set up distributing cones and mile markers for the 5K race, buoys for the 3 mile, 9 mile, and 12 mile paddling races, and set up registration tents and tables.

At promptly 7AM, Gold Sponsor, Our Outhouses arrived to set up their brand new units, hand sanitizers and all. Not only was their company timely and efficient, but their maintenance man even stayed ALL DAY to service and clean the outhouses periodically and then he went above and beyond to help with the event breakdown! Thank you Our Outhouses for providing such great service!

Photo by Andrea Ritter

At 7:30AM Title Sponsor, Assembly Row arrived to set up an outreach table handing out bags, notepads, coupons, and refreshments to all participants. Other sponsors and donors also arrived with healthy energy re-boosting snacks for distribution: bananas and popcorn from Medford WholeFoods Market, both caffeinated and non-caffeinated refreshing herbal teas from David's Tea, non-carbinated, tea-based, electrolyte filled rehydrating "Rehab" drinks from Monster Energy, water bottles from Platinum Sponsor Rockland Trust, individually wrapped cheeses from Cabot Cheese, chocolate and vanilla organic protein yogurt smoothies from Stoneyfield, 20lbs of pasta salad from Dave's Fresh Pasta, and donuts and coffee from Dunkin Donuts in Somerville.

                                                                                Photo by Arturo Gossage

Local businesses and sponsors like Platinum Sponsor, Boating in Boston, Gold Sponsor, Sunrun, Elements Massage, Ameriprise Financial, Chelsea Collaborative, Next Step Living, Gentle Giant Rowing Club, Boston 2024, Terry the Inventor Mentor, and DragonFly N Snail also joined in to set up outreach tables and kid friendly activities.   

At 8AM registration opened and participants started arriving. Both pre-registered and day of registrants began to gather picking up their bibs and checking out all the refreshments and outreach tables. 

                                                                               Photo by Arturo Gossage

9AM was kickoff for the 5K race which continued along the Mystic River bike path and through DCR Torbert MacDonald Park in Medford; there were no street crossings on this flat course. Volunteers, family, friends, and community members gathered along the path to cheer on runners as they flew past. To check out all race finishing times click here: RaceWire. Following the finish of the 5K, prizes donated from local businesses were given out to first and second place finishers in nine different age categories!

Photo by Andrea Ritter

11AM was kick off time for the 12 mile paddling race including a portage at the dam between lower Mystic Lake and Upper Mystic Lake. Just 15 minutes later, 12 racers gathered in the water for the nine mile paddling race and then at 11:30AM, 32 paddlers and paddling teams started up river for the three mile paddling race. All paddling race times can be found via this link: RaceWire. For an awesome video of the three mile paddling race from water level, check out this GoPro shot by participant, Scott Ide: Vimeo. Following all paddling races, top finishers in all categories including: double kayaks, sea kayaks, tandem canoes, recreational kayaks, and stand up paddleboards were all awarded awesome prizes from local businesses. 



                                                                                                                                                                                                  Photo by Ana Isabel Viana Silva

For more event day photos visit our flickr. 


We would like to thank all of our generous race sponsors:


Boston Line and Service, Boston Sand and Gravel, Cambridge Savings Bank, Copley Wolff Design Group, Law office of Michael Fager, MTI Adventurewear, P.T. Kelley, Saltmarsh Insurance Agency, The Flatley Company, Winchester Savings Bank, and East Cambridge Savings Bank 


MyRWA thanks our generous sponsors: (prize donations)

Wedgewood-Crane & Connoly Insurance Agency, Inc., Century Bank, Ameriprise Financial, Hyatt Place Boston/Medford, Whole Foods Market Medford, Monster Energy, A Tavola Restaurant, Art Beat Creativity Store, Atlas Liquors, AVEDA soma Salon and Spa, Berman's Wine and Spirits, Bertucci's Brick Oven Restaurant, Big Picture Framing, Black Crow Yoga, The Book Rack, Borealis Community Yoga, Boston Massage Associates, Boston Sports Club, Capital Movie Theater, Christopher's Restaurant and Bar, Colleen's Ice Cream & Sandwich Shoppe, Darn Tough Vermont Socks, David's Tea, Elements Massage, Elephant Walk, Elizabeth Grady - Face First, FEI Theatres, Franklin Park Zoo, Gingerbread Construction Company, The Great American Wine Co., Greater Boston Running Company, Harrow's Chicken Pies, Heights Barber Shop, Henry Bear's Park, Homewood Suites By Hilton, Hyatt Place Boston/Medford, Irving Oil gas card, Johnny D's Uptown Restaurant & Music Club, JP Licks (Davis Sq), Kelly's Roast Beef, Lakota Bakery, Laura Morrissette, Dragonfly and Snail, LL Bean, Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, Mela Indian Restaurant, Merrell (Worldwide Wolverine Foundation), Mike Rivard - Music, MG Fitness Center, MTI Adventurewear, Mystic Coffee Roaster, New England Coffee, Nick & Lizzie's, Not Your Average Joe's, Orvis, Patagonia, Quebrada Baking Co. & Coffee House, Redbones Barbeque, Regina Pizzeria, REI, Roland's Jewelry, Rudy's Café & Tequila Bar, Soma Salon & Spa, Teddie Peanut Butter, Tenoch Mexican Taqueria, The Book Rack, Tom Yum Koong - Thai Restaurant, Trader Joe's, Tweet Tweet Toy Shop, Vincent's Barber Shop, When Pigs Fly Bread, Wheelworks, WhichWich, and Zoo New England.


Special thanks to: the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation, the City of Somerville, Cataldo Ambulance, Bike to the Sea, and to the many volunteers who made this event a success! 


Posted by Andrea Ritter


Welcome Back the River Herring!

The return of the river herring is a sure sign of spring for Mystic River communities, and the Mystic River Watershed Association is happy to offer the public an opportunity to view this annual migration. Join us for an open house at the DCR Upper Mystic Lake Dam on Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford to learn more about the Blueback and Alewife Herring. 

Fish Ladder Open House Dates:

  • Sunday, May 17th, 12PM to 3PM
  • Monday, May 18th, 3PM-7PM
  • Friday, May 22nd, 3PM-7PM

If you would like to coordinate a group visit, please contact the Association at 781-316-3438.  Read more about the Herring Monitoring Program at

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) was founded in 1972 and has largely functioned as a volunteer-run organization, mobilizing activists on a project-by-project basis. 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. 

For more information see


Mystic River Cleanup Draws a Crowd


 On Saturday, April 25, as part of Mystic Community Earth Day, MyRWA hosted a cleanup at DCR Torbert Macdonald Park in Medford.

Community volunteers, families, neighbors and friends from local businesses like Medford WholeFoods, local schools such as Tufts University and UMass Boston, and local clubs like the Mystic River Rugby Club all gathered together to improve the condition of the meandering paths and waterfront at the park. 

Volunteers collected enough trash to fill two truck loads and enough tree limbs and branches to fill another whole truck. Clothing, milk crates, barrels, and furniture were gathered into piles and garbage bags were filled with wrappers, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cigarette butts, and more.  

We cannot thank our community enough for helping make Medford a better place to live, eat, work, and play!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



"The Tenacity of Water Chestnuts" by Elizabeth Preston

Volunteers at a water chestnut pulling event held by the Mystic River Watershed Association. Photo by David Mussina

On April 22nd, Elizabeth Preston of Hakai Magazine, wrote a beautiful article titled, "The Tenacity of Water Chestnuts." This piece features the problematic invasive species in the Mystic River and beyond known as, water chestnuts (Trapa Natans), an absolute menace of a plant blocking sunlight to life below, reducing oxygen, and clogging waterways.  

Preston herself joined an army of volunteers in the battle against water chestnuts on a sunny midsummer day heaping the invasive plants up into baskets aboard canoes and kayaks. Although the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) works hard to combat water chestnuts, it is an ongoing battle with a great deal of resistance. 

For the full article by Elizabeth Preston visit: 


Looking to get involved? Visit: Water Chestnut Removal Project and sign up to join in on the fight!


Stormwater Awareness Series: "After the Snow"

Stormwater Awareness Series: Session #16
The Town of Arlington Engineering Division is hosting a Stormwater Awareness Series open to residents of the Town of Arlington and the general public.
The series is designed to educate residents on Stormwater and the impacts on runoff, water quality, flood control and prevention, erosion and other stormwater related impacts within the Town of Arlington.  Information will be provided by stormwater professionals for the purpose of increasing awareness of these issues within the Town and to provide information for residents to help understand how the surrounding environment affects, and impacts, the local water resources and what can be done to reduce these impacts.
The next presentation is scheduled to be held on April 14th 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the Selectmen’s Hearing Room, Arlington Town Hall, 2nd floor.  The session will include a presentation “After the Snow” and will provide information for businesses and residents on how to clean up the affects of winter and address stormwater issues and the related impacts. The session will be followed by a question and answer session related to the presentation session topics.

Wayne A. Chouinard, Town of Arlington;  Engineering Division

This presentation will provide an overview of stormwater runoff and information for springtime maintenance tasks to counter the side effects of winter.   Sand & salt, freeze & thaw, ice and snow present negative impacts on stormwater runoff and water quality.  This presentation will review areas for businesses and residents to consider as the cleanup from the winter begins. 
After the Snow
The following is an outline of scheduled presentation:
  1. Overview of Stormwater Runoff
  2. Winter Impact
  3. Performing Inspections
  4. Springtime Cleanup
  5. Maintenance & Repairs
    • Gutters & Downspouts
    • Parking Lots & Driveways
    • Catchbasin, manholes and drywells
    • Grading & Landscaping

Malden River Use Survey

The Mystic River Watershed Association and Friends of the Malden River are conducting a survey on recreational use and property values along the Malden River and would like for you to participate!

Depending on how much you use the Malden River, the survey should take between 10 and15 minutes to complete. Your responses will help us better understand how people are using the Malden River and how they might like to use it in the future. We sincerely appreciate your input and thank you in advance for your participation.

Please take the survey here and share with your friends and colleagues!


"Trashed - No Place For Waste"

"Trashed - No Place for Waste" looks at the risks to the food chain and the environment through 
pollution of our air, land and sea by waste. The film reveals surprising truths about very immediate and 
potent dangers to our health, a global conversation from Iceland to Indonesia between the film star 
Jeremy Irons and scientists, politicians and ordinary individuals whose health and livelihoods have been 
fundamentally affected by waste pollution. Visually and emotionally the film is both horrific and 
beautiful: an interplay of human interest and political wake-up call. But it ends on a message of hope: 
showing how the risks to our survival can easily be averted through sustainable approaches that provide 
far more employment than the current 'waste industry'.
There will also be a presentation by a local community group about recycling and waste in our own 
This free screening is sponsored by the Medford Film Collaborative, Grace Episcopal Church and the City 
of Medford Office of Energy and the Environment. The program is funded in part by the Medford Arts 
Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. For more information, go to
“Trashed” will be screened at the Grace Episcopal Church, 160 High Street
Medford, on April 29, 2015 at 6:45PM

"Trashed - No Place for Waste" looks at the risks to the food chain and the environment through 
pollution of our air, land and sea by waste. The film reveals surprising truths about very immediate and 
potent dangers to our health, a global conversation from Iceland to Indonesia between the film star 
Jeremy Irons and scientists, politicians and ordinary individuals whose health and livelihoods have been 
fundamentally affected by waste pollution. Visually and emotionally the film is both horrific and 
beautiful: an interplay of human interest and political wake-up call. But it ends on a message of hope: 
showing how the risks to our survival can easily be averted through sustainable approaches that provide 
far more employment than the current 'waste industry'.
There will also be a presentation by a local community group about recycling and waste in our own 
This free screening is sponsored by the Medford Film Collaborative, Grace Episcopal Church and the City 
of Medford Office of Energy and the Environment. The program is funded in part by the Medford Arts 
Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. For more information, go to
“Trashed” will be screened at the Grace Episcopal Church, 160 High Street
Medford, on April 29, 2015 at 6:45PM


"NO" vote to store contaminated dredge in Chelsea Creek

The Chelsea Conservation Commission (ConCom) last week voted down Massport’s plans to store contaminated dredge from the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal dredging project in the Chelsea Creek.

Read the article here.


April 7th Committee Meeting with presentation by Tufts Univ. WSSS group

From 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on April 7th, MyRWA will be joined by a group of Tufts University graduate students as part of the Water: Systems, Science and Society program. The students will present on their project surrounding the Malden River. Below is a synopsis:

"The Malden River is heavily polluted due to past industrial activities and current stormwater runoff and outflow from surrounding communities. This pollution has been preventing citizens from fully utilizing the river. In order to understand the complexity of this urban river system and to foster increased public utilization of this resource, this project pursues two different but complementary goals. The first goal is to assist the Mystic River Watershed Association with a public health assessment and risk characterization by collecting data on visitor uses, exposure pathways, potential future uses and perceptions of the Malden River. The second goal is to determine the potential impact of river restoration on property values along the Malden River and to identify the possible economic benefits to the surrounding cities. The project will primarily use interviews to identify current user groups, potential future uses and perceptions of the Malden River, as well as a comprehensive literature review on river restoration of urban waterways and the economic impacts of river restoration."

This special presentation is part of the monthly Mystic River Watershed Association Committee Meeting. After the Tufts presentation the Committee will break into two groups: the Policy Committee and the Clean Water Campaign Committee. Please join us for this free, informational meeting!

Tuesday, April 7th, 7-9:00 p.m.
Tufts University, Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room


Special event: Let Justice Roll on Like a River

As part of Earth Month at Grace Church in Medford:

Wednesday, April 15th, 6:45 p.m. (community meal at 6:00 p.m.)
Grace Episcopal Church, 160 High Street | Medford, Massachusetts 02155


“Let Justice Roll on Like a River” A Presentation about River Stewardship and Access

Russell Cohen, Rivers Advocate at Division of Ecological Restoration/ Riverways Program, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game

Russ Cohen will address the adverse impact of urbanization – particularly impervious surfaces on water quality and quantity – and provide examples of Best Management Practices being used to mitigate this impact.

Russ Cohen currently serves as the Rivers Advocate for the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration.  One of his areas of expertise is in riparian vegetation. He has compiled a list of native plant species suitable for planting in riparian areas; written numerous fact sheets on the ecological and other beneficial functions of naturally vegetated buffers along rivers and streams intended to aid the effective implementation of the Mass. Rivers Protection Act; and (with the Appalachian Mountain Club) prepared Trees, Paddlers and Wildlife, a set of outreach materials intended to raise the awareness of paddlers, riparian land-owners and managers, and others about the ecological benefits of retaining trees and other woody vegetation in and along rivers and streams. 

Cohen has won numerous awards for his rivers work, including: the 2013 Education Award from the New England Wild Flower Society in recognition of both his rivers work and foraging programs; the River Steward Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of Women Voters and Sudbury-Assabet-Concord River Stewardship Council in 2012; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Massachusetts Wetland Scientists in 2011; an Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2003; and the Public Servant of the Year Award from the Environmental League of Massachusetts in 1997.


Richard Beinecke, Professor in the Suffolk University Institute for Public Service

Dr. Beinecke will discuss opportunities for public access to the Mystic River, addressing issues many citizens are unaware of – which could use advocacy with “the powers that be” to effect lasting change – including full pedestrian access to/along the river near I-93, part of the Mystic River Master Plan.

Richard Beinecke is a professor in the Suffolk University Institute for Public Service, where he teaches courses on leadership, and U.S. and global health policy and conducts research on management of mental health programs (most recently on the mental health response to the bombings) and leadership (three books on Change Leadership due out May 2015). The author of The Mystic River A Natural and Human History and Recreation Guide, he made over twenty-five presentations on the Mystic during the past two years. He led historic/birding canoe and kayak trips for over thirty years on area rivers (currently on the Mystic River with the Mystic River Watershed Association).  He was a Board member of the Massachusetts Audubon Society for over ten years, and was the “Green Man” leading Concord’s Earth Day festivities for many years. He is an active birder, fisherman, and cyclist.


Mystic River Earth Day Cleanup Scheduled for Saturday, April 25th

Calling all volunteers!

Celebrate Earth Day (April 22) with MyRWA on Saturday, April 25th! Volunteers are needed to help with a park and river cleanup at DCR Torbert MacDonald Park in Medford from 9:00 a.m. to noon. All supplies are provided at this family friendly event. This cleanup is one of many events scheduled as part of Mystic Community Earth Day - for event details and to find an event near you click here.