Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Council Members help save Endangered Species Act

We did it! CRC members signed letters and sent emails asking President Obama to rescind last-minute changes to the Endangered Species Act pushed through by the Bush Administration at the eleventh hour. Those ESA rule changes would have scuttled the science-based consultation policy that’s long been at the heart of conserving America’s biological heritage. Simply stated, the proposed changes would have put agencies with no biological expertise in charge of decisions effecting species and habitats threatened with extinction.

CRC rallied against the proposed Bush changes via a letter from the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic of the Vermont Law School on behalf of the Council and the Vermont Natural Resources Council. Many individual CRC members sent in their own comments on the flawed changes. Joining voices with others across the country, our efforts succeeded.

On April 28, 2009, after President Obama’s 60 day policy review, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Bush Administration’s ruling would be overturned. Bald eagles, grizzly bears and manatees are some of the higher profile species that the ESA has protected. Here in the Connecticut River watershed the shortnose sturgeon, dwarf wedgemussel, and small-whorled pogonia remain part of our precious biological heritage. May they be with us for a long, long time!

Energy Production in MA

Five new proposals for regional energy production have cropped up in Massachusetts recently — and for those in the Franklin County, MA area interested in a proposed 47 megawatt biomass power plant on the Fall River in the northeast section of Greenfield, two public meetings before the Greenfield Planning Board and Greenfield Zoning Board will be held at the Police Station Meeting Room, 321 High Street in Greenfield on:

* Thursday, May 7, 2009, at 7pm—Planning Board meeting
* Thursday, May 14, 2009, at 7:30 pm—Zoning Board of Appeals

While Governor Patrick and Executive Office of Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles have both stated their support for the known benefits of energy conservation and the jobs it will create, there now seems a rush to create new energy generation in our region. All these new plant proposals will require significant amounts of water to cool their operations—a consideration the public often is unaware of. In most cases that water will be drawn directly from rivers, reservoirs or wells that can impact groundwater tables.

These plants are not proposed to replace old plants coming off-line–they are presented as answers to projected increases in energy use in the coming decade. CRC wants to be sure the energy is necessary, and that individual plants use best available technology to protect critical resources.

We are also concerned with the plant-by-plant approach being taken by the DEP and other state agencies to assess current and projected energy needs. CRC believes the Commonwealth should be looking at the aggregate impacts of so many new plants, and assess them with the “big picture” in mind. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.

Visit our website to learn more about all of the proposed new energy facilities and view our recent comment letter on the Pioneer Renewable Energy project in Greenfield.

CRC announces 2nd Annual Living along the River Songwriting Contest

Got a lyric for your river–a tribute for your tributary? Know someone who does? We think those songs should be shared with the world. Building on the success of last year’s “Living along the River Songwriting Contest,” CRC is a putting out a new call for lyric artists in New England’s great river valley. “There was such great enthusiasm and music produced last year we’ve decided to make it an annual event,” says singer/songwriter and contest founder Pat LaMountain, who’s also CRC’s Finance Director, “This year we want to extend the contest’s reach to musicians up along the Connecticut’s tributaries.”

The deadline for submissions to the 2nd Annual Living along the River Songwriting Contest is July 15, 2009. Last year fifty artists submitted sixty-five original Connecticut River songs to the contest. A “finals concert” at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Montague, MA produced an overflow crowd that heard original songs performed live in genres ranging from folk to blues, rock to a cappella, and ballads to children’s music. “We’re excited by the prospect of a whole new wave of river music this year,” LaMountain says.

CRC’s musical arts endeavor is again being supported by the Massachusetts Arts Council, and Arts Council Grant awards from Bernardston, Blandford, Cummington, Gill, Goshen, Greenfield, Hadley, Huntington, Montague, Northfield, Orange, Petersham, Warwick, Washington, Wendell, Westhampton, Whately, Wilbraham, and Williamsburg.

Contest entries must be post-marked by July 15, 2009, or hand delivered to the Watershed Council’s Greenfield Headquarters by 5 pm on July 15th. All entries must arrive on a CD, accompanied by a $10 per song entry fee. Artists whose work is selected agree to perform at the Grand Finals Concert scheduled for Sunday, October 25, 2009, and also at one regional Semi-finals Concert, to take place in August or September.

Full contest rules, entry forms and information are on our website:, or call Pat LaMountain at: 413-772-2020 x 203.