New England News
4:43 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

International Visitors Study Volunteer Efforts In Berkshires To Protect Wildlife

A group of visitors from Sweden, students from Maine, and state workers from Massachusetts traveled to the Berkshires to get a first-hand look at some of the cooperative efforts underway to study and restore stream crossings in Western Massachusetts.

A culvert prevents migration of certain fish species and other wildlife.
A culvert prevents migration of certain fish species and other wildlife.
Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC

At a stream crossing in a wooded area on the outskirts of Pittsfield, Jane Winn, of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team shows a small crowd of students from the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, and a group of Swedish visitors, a culvert running underneath a rural road…

The crossing is one of the several aging culverts BEAT has been working to identify as risks to the health stream ecosystems. Information on identified crossings is then shared with local municipalities and state agencies including the Department of Transportation and the Division of Ecological Restoration. This particular crossing will be replaced with the cooperation of the Housatonic Valley Association using funds from the Natural Resources Damages Trustees Funds, money put aside by General Electric, as a result of the ecological damage to the Housatonic River with PCB contaminants.

Tomas Carolsfeld, a visiting student from the College of the Atlantic said at the site that replacing older stream crossings that divide habitats for fish species and other wildlife is a no-brainer.

Ken Cline, who teaches public policy and environmental law at the College of the Atlantic said that he brought students out to the Berkshires to see the collaborative efforts done to identify and replace stream crossings because the old methods aren’t working.

Sofia Perä, a member of the County Administrative Board of Norbotton, Sweden, and a project coordinator for REMIBAR – the Remediation of Migratory Barriers in streams - came with representatives of the Swedish Transport Administration, the forest products industry, and other members of local government in Sweden,  to learn more about the work done by the volunteer groups in the Berkshires and their coordination with the state agencies.

Perä said that the REMIBAR project is also working to restore stream crossings in Sweden with problems very similar to the aging crossings in the U.S., including habitat fragmentation.

Carrie Banks, River Continuity Coordinator with the Division of Ecological Restoration, who helped organize the visit, said that the state can also learn a lot from the work being done overseas.

In June an Improving Stream Crossings Workshop as part of the Massachusetts River Continuity Partnership will be held in Pittsfield.

For more information on the rescheduled meeting in Pittsfield:
http://massriversalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Stream-Crossing-Workshop-Flyer.pdf

http://baystateroads.eot.state.ma.us/workshops/view/1657/improving-stream-crossings

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