FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Greenfield, MA November 15, 2012 – The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRC) is pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached that will restore the Chickley River to more natural and ecologically sound conditions. After Tropical Storm Irene caused massive flooding last fall, five miles of the Chickley River in Hawley, MA were straightened, dredged, and bermed. This misguided effort went far beyond what was necessary to repair and protect roads and infrastructure, made the river more dangerous, and wrecked the river’s legally designated cold-water fishery. When the company responsible for the work, E.T.&L., appealed a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) enforcement order, CRC, Deerfield River Watershed Association (DRWA), and concerned citizens partnered to intervene in the appeal.
“We can’t completely undo the damage that was done to the Chickley, but this agreement and restoration plan does a great deal to help the river heal itself. State agencies, the Town, and E.T.&L. worked hard to develop a reasonable restoration plan. We feel our involvement helped lead them all to a better restoration plan with respect to some of the structural changes in the river and the planting of trees along the banks. We are glad our voice was heard,” says Andrea Donlon, CRC’s Massachusetts River Steward who has been working on this project for the past year.
Under the comprehensive settlement approved yesterday by the MassDEP, the construction company E.T.&L. and the Town of Hawley will be responsible for restoring the river to its original contours, connecting it with the floodplain, re-creating habitat such as riffle and pool complexes, and planting trees. The settlement requires that $150,000 be placed into an escrow account to pay for the replanting of vegetation, future monitoring, and corrective actions. In addition, there is a $175,000 penalty assessed with $66,000 of that being suspended provided the terms of the settlement and restoration are complied with by E.T.&L. Restoration work will begin immediately.
“We want to express our thanks to those residents of Hawley who recognized that this unprecedented damage done to their river would not protect them from future flooding and had destroyed what is special about their town. They spoke up and demanded this terrible insult to the river be fixed,” says Andrew Fisk, CRC’s Executive Director.
In mid-November 2011, CRC sent a letter to the MassDEP documenting the damage of post-flood work on the Chickley River and called on DEP to increase its oversight. Later that month, DEP ordered the contractor to cease and desist its work and to repair the environmental damage it caused. On May 17, 2012 CRC, representing a group of citizens, was given legal standing as an intervener group after E.T.&L. Corporation appealed DEP’s enforcement order for damage to the Chickley River. CRC fought hard for this role and actively participated in enforcement appeal proceedings and negotiations to ensure the river will be properly restored, and will continue to be involved throughout the restoration process. For more information on this victory go to: www.ctriver.org/land
Andrea Donlon, CRC Massachusetts River Steward
firstname.lastname@example.org 413/772-2020 x205 (On Friday 11/16, try Home: 413/625-8178 or Cell: 413/512-1281)
Andrew Fisk, CRC Executive Director
email@example.com 413-772-2020 x208 Cell: 413/210-9207