Watching our Waters:
Eyes and Ears Program making a difference
The Upper Valley Eyes and Ears Network is a pilot program comprised of volunteers from the watershed who are active on the water as fishers, boaters, canoeists, bird watchers, hikers and other river users. The goal is to assist our river stewards by providing an enhanced, on-river presence to monitor environmental conditions and take action in partnership with others to protect water quality, important habitat and wildlife species, and the natural and scenic lands of the valley.
Volunteers are trained as part of a corps of people who have an understanding about regulatory permits on their rivers and tributaries--to see that those permit conditions are adhered to. They also are key in keeping an eye out for unexpected events such as new erosion sites, unexplained discharges or containers and accidents that impact our waters.
David Deen, CRWC’s Upper Valley River Steward, conducted two trainings for the Council’s Eyes and Ears program in 2009. The new recruits were coached on how to spot, document, and report any unusual substances or dumping they encountered. It paid off quickly. In October 2009, a newly-trained Eyes and Ears volunteer discovered a barrel of unidentified type on the shore of the main river in Westminster, VT. The barrel was full of liquid and rusted, but still apparently intact, with nothing leaking.
David called the state and sent them pictures; then escorted a Vermont hazardous materials specialist to the barrel site. Ultimately, the EPA was called in. They spent two full days building a ramp to access and secure the container. The EPA hazmat people double packed the barrel to prevent puncture, and shipped it to a state-owned gravel pit where it was secured while tests on the contents were completed. The contents analysis showed the barrel was filled with oil, seemingly mixed with pesticides--a substance in a unique barrel that has never been seen before even by experts at EPA. Various EPA reports are at: http://www.epaosc.org/site/site_profile.aspx?site_id=5529
Eyes and Ears is funded in part through contributions from the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Davis Conservation Foundation, and BoatUS.
Photo credits (above): CRWC Staff
Image Credits at Right - Illustrations: Bill Singleton; Photos: Elisabeth Cianciola, David Deen, ©Chris Hardie, ©Al Braden www.albradenphoto.com, River Music drawn by Tom Dudley - Greenfield Recorder, CRWC Staff.