Just as water connects ecosystems and rivers flow into many tributaries, we believe that creating networks of partnerships and alliances is vital in the efforts to address environmental challenges and realize beneficial outcomes for people, nature, and wildlife throughout the Connecticut River Watershed. That’s why we’re proud to be an Affiliate of the Deerfield River Watershed Association (DRWA), and would like to celebrate their work and accomplishments today.

The mission of the Deerfield River Watershed Association is:

“Promoting healthy habitats, clean water, protection of scenic qualities, responsible public use, protection from spills and runoff, thoughtful development policies and appropriate land use practices for the Deerfield River watershed in Massachusetts and Vermont.”

Watershed organizations and many other types of local nonprofits often consist of a small number of staff and volunteers, yet their impact for the river cannot be understated. Below are some of the incredible 2022 accomplishments of DRWA!

1. Continued to Erase Graffiti Along the Deerfield River

Even though there are ten dams within the mainstem of the Deerfield River, most of the river looks incredibly natural. That is why it pains us when there is unnecessary defacement. In addition to the graffiti removed from river rocks near Wilcox Hollow in 2020, DRWA discovered even more graffiti upstream of the Gardner Falls Hydroelectric Power Station. They tackled removal of this older graffiti in full force on April 30, 2022. For keeping our landscapes looking as natural as possible, we believe these volunteer-led and labor-intensive projects are worth the effort. More details here.

2. Worked With Legislators to Successfully Introduce Deerfield River Wild and Scenic Legislation in the US Congress

After much effort, the DRWA’s initiative to seek a National Wild and Scenic River study bill and eventual Wild and Scenic designation for select sections of the Deerfield River is now in the hands of our elected representatives in the US House and Senate. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced proposed legislation for a study bill to determine if segments of the Deerfield River and its tributaries could qualify for designation as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. A copy of the proposed legislation is available for viewing here.

3. Cleaned up Rivers in Franklin County

The Franklin County Rivers Cleanup, formerly known as the Green River Cleanup, celebrated its 19th year! DRWA expanded the local Green River cleanup last year to include other river systems throughout the county and to help promote additional local events. As always, many of the volunteers met at the Green River Recreation and Swim Area in Greenfield for the signature event. Volunteers made massive progress towards cleaning up urban areas and local rivers. Leading by example, they even sorted out recyclable materials—a service now provided by other Source to Sea Cleanup partners and volunteers watershed-wide. They also promoted specific cleanups throughout the year with our other partners, including Earth Day and the City of Greenfield’s Blue Bag Cleanup Month. More details here.

4. Updated the Mohican–Mohawk Trail Maps & Trail Maintenance

As part of a large, collaborative effort, DRWA worked with Franklin Regional Council of Governments and other partners to update the brochure and maps of the Mohican-Mohawk Trail System. The updated brochure and maps can be found at the Franklin Land Trust trailhead near the State Police barracks on Route 2 in Shelburne, or a map can be accessed online. Besides the updated maps, DRWA also removed fallen and dangerous trees, and removed the encroaching brush along approximately one mile of trail.

5. Led Their First Guided Hikes in Many Years

In 2022, DRWA led four guided educational hikes, choosing the Town of Shelburne for our first series of hikes. Hikers enjoyed themselves and learned a lot. To keep up with any activity plans DRWA might have in the future, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

6. Monitored River Water Quality in Massachusetts and Vermont

DRWA have been helping to fund water quality monitoring along the Deerfield River and its tributaries for a number of years and as budgeting allows. What are they discovering? After rain events, water quality in the rivers generally deteriorates as contaminants are flushed into the river and the river bottom is stirred up. The good news is that water quality remains clean below Fife Brook (where the river receives the most water contact users), even after rain events. The bad news is that water quality can suffer as it passes through farmland and developed areas such as Wilmington, VT and the City of Greenfield, MA. These are areas where they hope to work with others to address water quality degradation. More details here.

7. DRWA Continues Their Work Bringing Positive Change to River Recreation

The DRWA has been actively working for a safe, clean, and user-friendly river system with adequate public access. They have been advocating to partners and local governments to create a River Recreation Plan that
is now fully underway. A few positive changes to river safety, sanitation, and convenience were made in 2021 and 2022; with fingers crossed, more are on the way for 2023 and beyond. More details here.

Connecticut River Conservancy is honored to partner with and support the work of DRWA, to donate or subscribe please visit visit deerfieldriver.org.