Blackstone River Watershed Association
Blackstone River Watershed Association
In This Issue
TIP OF THE MONTH

BRWA NEWS

35th Annual BRWA Canoe and Kayak Race

Trees, Paddlers and Wildlife -Ecology of Trees & Our Waterways

Record Turnout for Riverbank Cleanup!

Clean and Green Fair - A Good Time for All

MA Environmental Programs Cut Again

An Act Relative to Sustainable Water Resources

MA Bill Requiring Adult PFD Use

CALENDAR

IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Blackstone Valley Greenway Update

Grafton-Mill Villages Park

OF GLOBAL INTEREST

John Muir In the New World

2011 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest


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Issue 16 April 2011

TIP OF THE MONTH

Keurig K-cups - Mitigating the guilt
This month’s tip comes from the Editor who feels compelled to admit a dirty little secret to his readers. I own and operate a Keurig Coffeemaker.

For those unfamiliar with this technological marvel, the machine uses coffee (and other beverages) packaged for individual consumption in a single serving K-cup, a oz environmental disaster. Due to it’s construction, this packaging cannot be recycled. Now, to be fair, most “gourmet” coffee packaging (anything that doesn’t come in a metal or plastic can) isn’t recyclable because it usually consists of layers of different materials laminated together. This doesn’t minimize the shame and guilt and sleepless nights that result each time one of these little demons slips from my hands into the trash.

For those who share this shameful occupation, I have one tip that may, in a small way, mitigate the guilt. The K-cup is a near-perfect seed starting vessel. Any amateur gardener who starts seeds is constantly on the lookout for containers. I’ve tried everything that could possibly hold soil. In my opinion, the K-cup is a winner. K-cup, cover removed

Cutting around the inside rim with a utility knife and removing the cover (possibly recyclable) reveals coffee grounds sitting on a suspended miniature basket type coffee filter. The coffee machine already punctured the bottom for drainage. Clean out the grounds (into the compost, of course). No need to be thorough as they won’t hurt anything. Let the container dry completely. Fill with your choice of planting medium (I like Vermont Compost Company Fort Vee) and add seeds. I lightly top watered the containers. I was very pleased with the result. Larger plants may need to be transplanted into a larger container. For this, I use homemade newspaper pots. tomato and cucumber seedlings in k-cups

I still lose sleep over this and other environmental transgressions but at least my plants seem happy & healthy.

The Lake Isle Of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

William Butler Yeats

April is National Poetry Month. Share a favorite nature-themed poem with friends and family. And feel free to share it with us as well.



BRWA NEWS

35th Annual BRWA Canoe and Kayak Race

kayak clipart image The Blackstone River Watershed Association will hold its 35th Annual Canoe and Kayak race on Saturday, May 21, 2011. This 12 mile event will start in South Grafton, MA across from the Fisherville Mill at 53 Main Street (Rt 122A). The race will end at the RiverBend Farm Visitor Center in Uxbridge, MA. Points for the NECKRA and the NE Downriver Championship will be awarded.

After the race there will be food, music, an award ceremony as well as other family activities. For more information or to participate as a racer or volunteer please visit the website or contact Rosemary Longo-Nutt at roseisarose@hotmail.com

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Trees, Paddlers and Wildlife -Ecology of Trees & Our Waterways
The Blackstone River Watershed Association, the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone and the John H. Chaffee Blackstone River Valley Heritage Corridor Commission are hosting a workshop entitled Trees, Paddlers and Wildlife -Ecology of Trees & Our Waterways on Thursday, May 5th at 6:30 PM at the Blackstone Public Library. The Appalachian Mountain Club and the Mass. Division of Ecological Restoration/Riverways Program will present the workshop on what should be done about large branches and trees lying in a river. Should they be removed, pruned, relocated, or left undisturbed—and how do you know? What are the safety considerations? What is the appropriate balance between the competing desires of canoeists, kayakers, and other boaters, the interests of property owners concerned about flood drainage and a ‘tidy’ appearance, and the needs of fish, mammals, amphibians, insects and birds for adequate food, nesting, and cover? What is “large woody debris” in rivers, and how does it improve water quality and control flooding downstream? Join us for answers to these questions as well as to learn about native species that are suitable for planting in riparian areas. There will be ample time for questions and discussion with Russ Cohen of Riverways and Mike Gildesgame of AMC. The Blackstone Library is at 86 Main Street (Route 122), Blackstone, MA.

For more information on this topic go to www.outdoors.org/rivers.

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Record Turnout for Riverbank Cleanup!
A record 120 volunteers participated in the BRWA sponsored Earth Day Cleanup on April 16, 2011. The event was part of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) 5th Annual Park Serve Day and Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. Clean and Green Day. group of volunteers posing at Valati Park, Blackstone

Over 275 bags of trash were collected along the banks of the Mumford River in Uxbridge and Northbridge, the Blackstone River in Grafton, the Mill River in Blackstone and Mendon, Fox Brook in Blackstone and at the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge. The volunteers included groups from Blackstone-Millville Regional High School, the Church of the Nazarene in Uxbridge, Uxbridge Boy Scout Troop 7, Douglas Cub Scout Pack 134, Mendon Brownies, Northbridge Girl Scouts, Starbucks of Auburn, the Bancroft School in Worcester, Assumption School in Millbury, Alternatives, Inc., Whitin Middle School in Uxbridge, BRWA members and other individuals interested in improving water quality.

Following the cleanup, volunteers gathered at River Bend Farm Visitor Center, enjoyed pizza and refreshments provided by BRWA. The clean-up was followed by a Clean & Green Fair presented by Alternatives, Inc and the BRWA.

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Clean and Green Fair - A Good Time for All
BRWA and Alternatives Unlimited co-hosted a Clean and Green Fair on April 16, in conjunction with the Earth Day clean up activities that were organized at River Bend Farm. Alternatives, an agency located in Whitinsville that strives to enhance community connections for persons with disabilities, has a strong commitment to protecting the environment. .

Tamara with the compost presentation The Fair featured several educational displays and hands-on activities for children and attracted nearly 200 visitors. BRWA’s booth presented a display of the Association’s activities and a collection of outreach materials that promote actions that can protect rivers and streams.

Tammy with the downspout demonstration
The organization also provided demonstrations of eco-friendly practices that homeowners can easily implement, including composting food scraps and yard waste and diverting stormwater to prevent water pollution and replenish the water table. Kids could plant flowers, vegetables and herbs to grow at home at Alternatives’ table. The agency also provided information on their Terracycling program that recycles juice packs in a local school. Another interesting table was hosted by students from Assumption school who shared their award winning project on vernal pools.
2010 racers
Visitors also received perennial seedlings donated by the Blackstone Valley Gardeners.

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MA Environmental Programs Cut Again
The Massachusetts House Committee on Ways & Means released its Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal. Proposed cuts to environmental programs include the Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP), Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration/Riverways. The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) is without state funding for the third year in a row.

If approved these cuts will likely lead to further degradation of and reduction in the number of recreational sites, a decreased ability to protect, maintain and develop critical natural resources and much less protection for wildlife and rare species.

Overall, environmental program budgets have been slashed by nearly 25% over the last 2 years. Environmental spending is of 1 percent of the total state budget. We spend less than the national average on parks and recreation.

The budget will be debated next week including several proposed amendments that would restore, in part, some of the funding to environmental programs. Readers are urged to visit the sites listed below for more information on the budget proposal, amendments, the state of environmental programs in Massachusetts and, most importantly, what they can do to help. Our elected state officials have a constitutional obligation to uphold our rights to “clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise, and the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment”. Perhaps they need us to remind them of that obligation.

MA Audubon Beacon Hill Roundup, April 15, 2011

Amendments restoring funding for environmental protection (see #s 206, 226, 432, 563, 566, 578): www.malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2012/House/ChamberActions

To contact your Representative: If you know your representative's name, you can just call the House switchboard and be put through: 617-722-2000. If not, locate the name and contact information of your state representative by visiting: http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/myelectioninfo.php (Note: look for "Rep. In General Court"); or, http://www.malegislature.gov/People/House

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An Act Relative to Sustainable Water Resources-House Bill 255/Senate Bill 349
The BRWA supports An Act Relative to Sustainable Water Resources House Bill 255 / Senate Bill 349 which amends the Water Management Act to:
  • ensure adequate water flow and levels for fish and other species according to guidelines developed by the Department of Fish and Game.
  • ensure adequate water flow and levels for community water suppliers.
  • authorizes water suppliers to implement "waterbanking" under which they could charge a small fee to residents and businesses for any new water withdrawal capacity to offset and remedy ecological impacts of water withdrawals.
  • Adds dam removal to the options offered to dam owners by the Office of Dam Safety within the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
The bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. View this fact sheet for more information.

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MA Bill Requiring Adult PFD Use
A bill has been filed in The Massachusetts House (H646), which would require everyone on boats less than 20 feet long to wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) year-round. The bill apparently has little support and faced opposition from the boating public. Opponents cite the cost and difficulty of enforcement and unreasonable restrictions on boaters as reasons for not passing the bill and say that emphasis should be on education rather than mandated use. Current law requires that children under 12 must wear approved PFDs at all times and that all persons on board a canoe or kayak must wear approved PFDs from September 15 to May 15.

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CALENDAR OF EVENTS
4/22 Earth Day  
4/23 Talk Like Shakespeare Day   info
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin"
4/29 Save The Frogs Day   info
4/29 Arbor Day   info
4/30 MA Audubon Work For Wildlife Volunteer Day   info
**** May is American Wetlands Month   info
5/3 National Teacher Day   info
5/5 Trees, Paddlers and Wildlife -Ecology of Trees & Our Waterways 6:30pm Blackstone Public Library   see article above
5/5 Building a Sustainable Future: The Massachusetts Green Communities Act 7pm-9pm Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary   info
5/12 BRWA Board Meeting 6:30pm 271 Oak St., Uxbridge   info
5/14 BRC Water Quality Sampling
5/15 35th BRWA Canoe and Kayak Race   info
5/15 Blackstone Valley Youth Fishing Tournament 8am - 1pm Hopedale Pond, Hopedale   info

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IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Blackstone Valley Greenway Update
On March 30, 2011, state and local officials presented an update on the Blackstone Valley Greenway (formerly Bikeway) project. Dan Driscoll of MA DCR announced that the completion date for the entire 22 mile trail between Worcester and Woonsocket will be sometime in 2012. The work is divided into several sections. It is hoped that work will begin soon on Section 1 through part of Section 3, between the Rhode Island border and Northbridge.

See the following article for more on this update:

"Officials give Greenway update" by Christopher Tanguay, Blackstone Valley Tribune


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Grafton-Mill Villages Park
On April 9, 2011, ground was broken for Mill Villages Park in South Grafton. Located at 61 Main St, the long neglected site was once a parking lot for the former Fisherville Mill, which was destroyed by fire in 1999. The planned 2 acre park is situated between the Blackstone River and the Blackstone Canal. It is expected to open for public use next spring.

See the following article for more on the groundbreaking including links to pictures of the event:

"From abandoned parking lot to crown jewel: Ground is broken for Mill Villages Park" by Jennifer Lord Paluzzi, TheDailyGrafton.com


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OF GLOBAL INTEREST

John Muir In the New World
The PBS television series American Masters program "John Muir In the New World" premiered on April 18th and is currently running on local broadcast and cable stations.

This excellent documentary explores the life, writing and influences of this icon of conservation in America whose advocacy for wilderness areas led to the creation of the National Parks.

If you miss the broadcast on television, the full program can be viewed on this PBS website. In addition, the Children & Nature Network provides a companion Family Guide and Educators Guide.


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2011 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest
The US EPA announced the 2011 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest a poetry, essay, photo and dance contest sponsored by the EPA, Generations United, the Dance Exchange, National Center for Creative Aging,and the Rachel Carson Council, Inc. Teams consisting of at least one young and one older person are asked to share their "sense of wonder" felt for some aspect of their natural surroundings. Submissions are due June 10, 2011.

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Views & opinions expressed in linked websites do not necessarily state or reflect those of the BRWA.


Your input is crucial to this eNewsletter. If you have a local watershed-related story, information of interest to our subscribers, or comments about this publication, drop an email to the editor.

The Blackstone River Watershed Association (BRWA) has a mission to enhance and preserve the Blackstone River system and its watershed; its objectives are to:
  • Educate members, supporters, watershed residents on watershed protection strategies,
  • Engage the public in watershed stewardship activities, and
  • Improve the water quality and esthetics of the Blackstone River Watershed’s water bodies.
The BRWA eNewsletter is published monthly by the Blackstone River Watershed Association. BRWA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Editor: Michael Sperry mikes_brwa@comcast.net
Mailing address: BRWA, 271 Oak Street Uxbridge, MA 01569
Phone: 508-278-5200  Web: www.thebrwa.org

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