Anglers learn to fly fish through OLLI course

Ten enthusiastic anglers tried out their newly acquired fly fishing skills at the Wild Acres Pond in Pittsfield on May 10.  They had taken a 6 week course entitled Getting Hooked on Fly Fishing which was taught by Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited board members through the OLLI – Berkshire Community College program.  Teachers included William Travis, Henry Sweren, John Burns, BenWoods and Marc Hoechstetter, some of the best flyfishers in the Berkshires.


The course included a video about the joys of fly-fishing.  Other segments included an introduction to the gear and equipment, macro-invertebrates, fly casting, knots, fly selection and two segments fly fishing on water.   The flies were tied by the instructors. LL Bean donated 3 rods, reels and lines and Orvis donated a rod, leaders and tippets.


Bob Bott and his wife Nancy were at Wild Acres.  They said that they had always wanted to learn how to fly fish and this was a good way to begin.  You can feel the grace and the movement of the rod, said Nancy.  Leigh Merlini said that she was not a sportswoman but was taking the course because she always wanted to learn how to do it.  She commented on how wonderful the instructors were.  Chris Kersten recently retired and he took the course because he never had the time to learn to fly fish before.  OLLI seemed to be a perfect way to get started.

Bob Derosiers got interested in taking a course when Henry Sweren mentioned that TU folks were teaching flyfishing to youngsters.  Bob wondered if TU would teach it through OLLI.   There was so much interest that they immediately filled the class.    Incidentally, he attended the recent flyfishing film festival at the Wahconah Country Club and won the door prize, a fly rod that Taconic TU President Alan Gray had built.     Bob caught a smallmouth bass with it on this day, the first fish on a flyrod for him in 50 years.


Michelle Fitzgerald took the course because her late husband was a fly fisherman and left a lot of equipment.  She had to decide whether to take up fly fishing or sell the equipment.    She had a great time and caught her first fish on a fly rod, a smallmouth bass.  Her husband would have been so proud of her.


Mary Ann Hayden signed up for the course because it was something that her sons, who are now grown men, took up and loved.   “I feel like a kid” she said “Its so fun.”   I always loved nature and this is just another way to tune in to it.  “(I love) just watching the water and beautiful surroundings.”   She also loves fishing with a barbless hook and can release the fish unharmed.


Mark Gross also had a great time.   He felt that it was better late than never to take up this sport.    He used to fish the Retallic Pond in Richmond with barbless hooks back in the 1970’s but it has since silted in.


Lee Abraham had never flyfished before but rather fished with a spinning rod.  He saw the course advertised and felt that this was an opportunity that he shouldn’t let go by.


Barbara McShane said that flyfishing was something she always wanted to do.   She considers herself a “miserable fisherman, not good at all” but is enjoying the sport. She is determined to become a proficient flyfisher.


All of the participants had nothing but praise for the instructors.  There were no grumpy old men there that sunny day but enthusiastic fellows who were all smiles.  The beaming ladies with their fly rods, vests, sun glasses, and stylish fishing hats looked pretty spiffy.


Onota Fishing Club Derby winners

In spite of strong winds and choppy waters at Onota Lake last Sunday, 75 kids and adults signed up for the derby.  That’s according to President Ed Blake.  Board members Paul Carr and Fred Ostrander ran the event assisted by fellow members Chuck Leonard, Wobbey Barnes, Chris Cimini, Ray Wesselman, Andy Zurrin, Fred Valentine, Rick Pierce, Paul White and probably others.


Derby winners in the youth category were 5-year old Hunter Proper who caught a 2 lb 4 oz, 17 inch rainbow trout.  It was the largest trout of the day in either the youth or adult category.  Second place went to his cousin 6-year old Anthony Corkins who caught a 2 lb 4 oz, 16 ½ inch rainbow.  Third place went to 12 year old Emma Kostyun with a 1 lb 7 oz, 14 ¾ inch rainbow.


Winners in the adult category were Nick Mancivalano with a 2 lb, 16 inch rainbow.  Second place went to Ed Kucka with a 1 lb 12 oz, 15 ½ inch rainbow and Mark Farrell took 3rd with a 1 lb 10 oz 15 ¼ inch rainbow.


There was plenty of food there and it was excellent, especially Rose’s chowder.  You never know who you will meet at these fishing derbies.  Matt White, former Boston Red Sox southpaw pitcher was there.  You may remember him on the Red Sox team of 2003.


Trout Stockings

The following waters were stocked with trout last week: Westfield River in Chester, Chesterfield, Huntington, Middlefield, and Worthington; Deerfield River in Buckland, Clarksburg and Florida; Green River in Williamstown, Housatonic River in Pittsfield (SW Branch), Greenwater Pond, North Pond, Upper Highland Lake, Littleville Reservoir, Pontoosuc Lake, Goose Pond, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Big Pond, Otis Reservoir, Onota Lake, Richmond Pond, Stockbridge Bowl and Windsor

Students release 500 trout into Windsor Lake



Last Friday the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen sponsored an elementary school trout stocking day at Windsor Lake in North Adams.  The participants included all of the 4th graders in North Adams including students from the Greylock, Brayton and Cole Avenue grammar schools.    MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife Western (DFW) District Manager Andrew Madden and staff brought 500 beautiful, frisky rainbow trout to be liberated.


DFW staff netted a few trout at a time from the hatchery truck tank, placed them into 5 empty gallon buckets and one or two kids ran the buckets to the lake’s edge and tossed the fish out of the pails into the water.  Lofting those fish from a pail can be tricky and sometimes the fish, pail and everything went flying into the waters, as evidenced by the picture.   Some also landed on the ground, but DFW staff immediately picked them up and tossed them into the water unharmed. The kids did a great job and all 500 of the fish were released – shook up, but unharmed.  Even some teachers got into the act by running the buckets of fish to waterfront and releasing them, too.


In addition to DFW personnel, there were representatives from the County League, Adams Outdoor for Youth, Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, DCR, MA Angler’s Education, and others.  Environmental Police Officer Terry Davis was there to ensure that no anglers caught any of the fish in front of the kids while they were stocking.  After the stocking, the kids ate their lunches in the pavilion building


What a great day for the kids.  What better way for them to spend a school day connecting with nature, especially following a grueling week of exams.


Youth Turkey Hunt follow-up

Here are the names of the last week’s successful youth turkey hunters who were sponsored by the Lee Sportsmen’s Association:  Matt Fletcher, Curt Wilton III, Devon Atwell, Sam Harding, Kade Groeber and Miles Houle.


Incidentally, according to Astrid Huseby, who heads up this program for the DFW, 73 toms were checked in online statewide.  That doesn’t include any birds checked in at any physical check stations.  Congratulations to all the youth turkey hunters, the clubs that sponsored the programs and to the mentors.


Trout stockings

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week:  Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Huntington, and Middlefield; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Green River in Alford and Great Barrington, Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Housatonic River in Lee (C/R) and Pittsfield (S/W), Green River in Williamstown, Hemlock Brook in Williamstown, Dry Brook and South Brook in Cheshire, Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton, Town Brook in Lanesborough, Ashfield Pond, Greenwater Pond, Pontoosuc Lake, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Garfield Lake, Otis Reservoir, Richmond Pond Stockbridge Bowl and Windsor Pond.


Fishing Derbies

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, May 14  from 9 to 10:30am at its lower pond.  Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.


The Onota Fishing Club is having a Trout Derby at the Controy Pavilion at Burbank Park on Onota Lake next Sunday, May 15, from 6am to 1pm.  The entrance fee is $10 with kids 12 years and under free.  There will be a 50/50 raffle, prizes for kids, and a cash prize for the biggest fish.  A fish fry will follow which is included with the paid entry, including hot dogs and hamburgers.  The cost is $10 for non entry.


Wildlife Walk

Next Saturday, May 14, there will be a Western Mass Woodlands for Wildlife Walk at Haskell Farm in Peru, MA.  You are invited to join MassWildlife’s Habitat Biologist, Marianne Piché, and others for an easy field walk and discussion to highlight forestry and habitat management work done on the Haskell Farm. You will be able to hear songbirds as you tour young forests and grasslands that provide critical food and shelter for birds and other wildlife. Mass Audubon, MA DCR’s Service Forester, and Steve Hayes consulting forester will be on hand to share information about why certain wildlife species are declining, forest management practices that enhance wildlife habitat, and new cost share programs available to help you manage your woods for wildlife. Free and open to all, pre-registration is requested.  Call (413)625-9151 or email for more information, directions, or to register.


Bass Information

Tournament bass fishermen can help MassWildlife collect information on trophy bass by submitting bass creel survey forms.  Data such as how long it takes to catch a bass, average weight and the number of trophy bass landed allows biologists to track trends in individual waters.  A copy of the data you submit will be sent to your e-mail address. If you prefer to report your Creel Survey in paper format and mail or fax it to the DFW Field Headquarters address on the bottom of the form.


Questions/comments:   Phone:  (413) 637-1818



Young turkey hunters experience mild weather, successful hunts

Along with their mentors, youths took to the woods in the wee morning hours last Saturday morning taking advantage of the special Youth Turkey Hunting day.   The early morning weather couldn’t have been better and lots of gobblers were seen by most. Rick Gale was responsible for teaching the class and organizing the hunts for the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club.   Eleven kids participated with five of them bagging gobblers.   Three others had shot opportunities but didn’t connect.  Successful hunters were 13 year old Grace Krzanik who was mentored by her father Scott.  This was her 3rd season hunting and 1st tom.  She took it at 23 yards and it weighed 19 lbs.  14 year old Bryant Martin, who was mentored by Bill Adelt,  took a 20 lb 12oz tom at 30 yards.  Both were one shot kills. Other successful hunters were Mia Gale, Lucas Jamros and Paolo Kareh, but they did not return to the club after their hunt. At the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club, spokesman Mike Buffoni reported that 18 youths went out and 6 of them got gobblers.  All of them saw plenty of turkeys and had a great day.  The largest tom, weighing in at 21 lbs, was taken by Matthew Fletcher of Lenox.   (Sorry, I was unable to get the names of the other successful hunters.)  Buffoni reported that there were a lot of big toms around this year due to the non-existent winter.

At the Lee Sportsmen’s Association, spokesman Matt Ranzoni reported that 6 youths participated and three of them were successful.  The lucky hunters were Owen Bush, Hunter Briggs and Donovan Caccomo.  (Donovan came all the way from Milton, NY to participate.)  All three birds were jakes.  The other hunters also came close to bagging their birds.   It is interesting to note that some of this year’s mentors participated in the Youth Turkey Hunt when they were kids and they are now passing on their knowledge to younger hunters.  Such was the case with Sam Polastri.  He was mentored by his dad John and now that he has turned 18, he was mentoring his younger friend Matt LeProvost this year.

After the hunts, each club provided tasty lunches.  Incidentally, the regular spring turkey hunting season opened the following Monday and runs until May 21.  Turkey hunting is one of the most dangerous types of hunting.  Unfortunately, we had an accidental shooting last week in Williamstown.  If you have youngsters interested in taking up this sport, I strongly urge that you to get them enrolled into next year’s Youth Turkey Hunt program. If you plan  to be a mentor, you might listen in yourself.  Check out the MassWildlife web site to find out which local clubs are involved, how the program works and how to enroll. izes are given away to the winners of the fishing derby 8 trophies for the Children 4 trophies for Adults & 3 trophies that can be won by adults or children, there is even a special category for those fishing with a bow & arrow. All fish must be weighed in at 12:00 p.m. and can be caught at Onota Lake from a boat or the shore. * SCALE WILL BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY AFTER 12:00 Pm. * Fishing tackle is given with the trophy prizes & 2 prizes for heaviest trout. A sportsman award is given out to a child which includes a tackle box with over $100 of tackle. Fee is $10 Adults $5 for Children 14 years old and younger. Fee includes Food & Beverages. All children receive a free gift and a children 5-14 years old a chance at winning a Mountain Bike boys girls. The carp shoot is part of the Fishing derby because that was something that Harry enjoyed. Food and beverages are provided to all entrants. Hamburg’s hotdogs, coffee, doughnuts, soda. No alcohol is served at this event. Advanced tickets may be purchased at Avid Sports, Dave’s Sporting Goods, Maces Marine & Onota Boat Livery. Everyone still needs to register before all fish can be weighed in

Trout stockings

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week:  Westfield River in Chester, Chesterfield, Huntington, Middlefield, Russell, and Worthington; Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton, Hop Brook in Tyringham and Lee, Pelham Brook in Charlemont and Rowe, Sackett Brook in Dalton and Pittsfield, Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Hudson Brook in Clarksburg, Kinderhook Creek in Hancock, Bennett Brook in Hinsdale, Yokun Brook in Lenox, Dunbar Brook in Monroe, Trout Brook in Peru, Windsor and Westfield Brooks in Windsor, Norwich Pond and Littleville Lake in Huntington, Goose Pond, Windsor Lake in North Adams, Big Pond in Otis, Onota Lake, Pelham Lake in Rowe, and Stockbridge Bowl.


Pistol shooting

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will stage a steel fun match at the club on Thursday, May 5, starting at 5:30 pm.  Rim fire and center fire pistols only, 9mm to .45. No Magnums. Steel is 5 consecutive rounds, so it works best if you have 5 magazines that you can change one right after another.  But if you don’t, they can accommodate by having a person reload.  Match cost is $7.


Also at the Lee club, the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is having a mandatory orientation for new shooters on May 7 at 10am prior to its scheduled match.  The match cost is $15, with sign-up by 12pm.  There will be a safety briefing at 12:45pm.  First shot at 1pm.  Cold Range Rules apply, six stages, bring 150 rounds.  There will be a classifier after the Match for an additional cost of $15.00.   For more information on both of the above events, contact Shawn Sullivan at

Ducks Unlimited Banquet

The Berkshire Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be having its annual banquet at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club on Saturday, May 14 from 5 to 9 PM.  There will be general raffle prizes, a silent and live auction.   Proceeds will be used to support wetlands conservation.   Tickets cost $40 and can be obtained from Joe Delsoldato at 413-717-0983 or from JP Murphy at 413-822-3915 or from Dave’s Sporting Goods in Pittsfield.


Four honored at BCLS Conte Banquet


About 160 people packed the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club banquet hall last Saturday evening for the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen’s (BCLS) Silvio O. Conte Memorial Awards Banquet. Award recipients were the late Christopher Porter of Pittsfield, Al Buck of Adams, Steve Bateman of Pittsfield and DCR Deputy Director Matthew Sisk, of Braintree, MA.  The banquet was dedicated in memory of the late Chuck Jones of Dalton.  All were selected by the various sportsmen’s clubs which make up the BCLS.   Their individual feats were highlighted in a prior column.


In acknowledging Chuck Jones, emcee and former League president Mark Jester said that Jones was instrumental in getting the Friends of NRA here in the Berkshires and every club, including the BCLS, benefitted from the work he and his staff did over the years.   Chuck’s widow, Evelyn, thanked the League for the banquet dedication in Chuck’s honor.  She read a touching poem of remembrance.


Steve Bateman has raised over $25,000 through his fishing derbies for Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  He was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award which acknowledged “his achievements all while enhancing the image of sportsmen in our community”.  On receiving the award, he thanked all those who helped along the way.


Al Buck was recognized for his work with the sportsmen and Adams Outdoor for Youth by receiving the John Zuber Award “for his unwavering dedication to introduce and perpetuate the ideals of sportsmen in Berkshire County.”  He thanked the League and the many people who helped him over the years.


Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey presented the Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award to Matt Sisk.  Darey noted that there were thousands of acres of local state forests that were not accessible to hunters.   That was until Matt became Deputy Director of DCR.  Upon hearing of the problem, he immediately came to the Berkshires, checked out the situation and got the access issues resolved.  The award was “ in recognition of his sport dedication and oversight to the preservation of open space and wildlife.”  In accepting the award, Sisk said that he was really honored and proud and that the award means a lot to him.  “If it wasn’t for Fish & Game Commissioner George Peterson, Darey and DFW Director Jack Buckley”, he said, “ this wouldn’t have happened.”


In presenting the Sportsman of the Year Award, Jester noted that the late Chris Porter should have gotten this award years ago. He was very involved in the sports level and was very helpful, usually behind the scenes.  “We want his memory to live on.” he said.   The award was, “in recognition of his lifelong dedication and leadership of sportsmen and youth of Massachusetts.” Chris’ son Ryan accepted the award on behalf of his family.  He thanked the League and related some shooting experiences that he had with his dad.


During the banquet, Mark Jester recounted how he became a BCLS delegate when he was 23 years old.   He mentioned how the late US Congressman Silvio O. Conte always made it a point to attend the raccoon dinners that the Lakewood Sportsmen’s Club put on.  At one dinner, he suggested that Mark become involved with the BCLS. The rest is history, with Mark serving as a delegate for 34 years and 18 years as its president.   Having recently stepped down, he took the opportunity to thank all of the delegates and sportsmen and women who have helped him over the years.  He said that he has developed many close friends that he never would have met were it not for the League. *****


The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week:  Deerfield River  in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Walker Brook in Becket and Chester, Goose Pond Brook in Lee and Tyringham, Greenwater Brook, Beartown Brook and West Brook in Lee; Little River, Bronson Brook and West Branch Brook in Worthington; Yokum Brook in Becket, West Branch Brook in Chesterfield, Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton, West Brook in Great Barrington, Little River in Huntington, Factory Brook in Middlefield, Mill Brook in Plainfield, Larrywaug Brook in Stockbridge, Depot Brook in Washington and Westfield Brook in Windsor. *****

Vernal pools are unique wildlife habitats best known for the amphibians and invertebrate critters that use them to breed.   They usually dry during summer which prevents fish from establishing   populations.  That is critical to the reproductive success of many amphibians and invertebrates that rely on breeding habitats free of fish predators.

If you want to learn more about vernal pools, join the Wild & Scenic Westfield River exploration at noon April 30, at the Becket Town Hall in Becket.  After an hour presentation by Berkshire Environmental Action Team specialist Jane Winn, there will be on-site training to learn how to identify and certify a vernal pool. The presentation is free and open to the public and the site visit requires registration.  For more information, call Meredyth Babcock @ 413 623-2070.

Special events planned for HVA’s 75th anniversary


Earlier this year, I mentioned in this column that there were some important anniversaries being celebrated this year. The Division of Fish & Wildlife is celebrating its 150th and the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery is celebrating its 100th..   There will be more to come on them in future columns.  Well, there is another big celebration being celebrated this year and that is the Housatonic Valley Association’s (HVA) 75th anniversary.

HVA is dedicated to protecting the entire Housatonic River Watershed which includes 2,000 square miles of land stretching from western Massachusetts through western Connecticut and eastern New York to Long Island Sound. HVA monitors water quality throughout the watershed, conducts educational programs, works to link preserved space with the Housatonic River Greenway of hiking and biking trails and uses computer mapping to help towns measure the impact and benefits of land use and development. HVA’s offices are in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut; South Lee, Massachusetts; and Wassaic, New York.

In celebration, HVA is organizing a 10-day, 149-mile, Source to Sound Housatonic River adventure starting at Muddy Pond in Washington, MA on Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22. It will end at Stratford Point in the Long Island Sound on Sunday, May 1.  In our area, paddlers will maneuver beaver ponds in the Housatonic Flats, challenging rapids below the Glendale Dam, meandering flood plains of Sheffield and continue on into Connecticut.

The paddlers are led by three expert paddlers: David Sinish, an experienced kayak/canoe instructor, Dennis Regan, HVA’s Berkshire Director and Schuyler Thomson, owner of Thomson Canoe Works in Norfolk, CT. Many partner organizations from the surrounding watershed will join HVA for this historic river adventure.

On day two, Saturday, April 23 in Pittsfield, HVA and Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) will host the first Earth Day River Festival at the Fred Garner Park starting at 11 a.m. with a park cleanup. Gloves and bags will be provided. Several events, including exploring a restored vernal pool, learning about river bottom critters, and much more will take place.  Food will be available to purchase or participants may bring a picnic lunch.

On day three, Sunday, April 24 from 1 to 3 p.m., a river festival will take place at the Lee Athletic Field at Housatonic Street featuring kid friendly, river oriented activities (on land) that include fly fishing demonstrations. (I hope some volunteer flyfishers help me with this.  I don’t want to pass on my bad fly casting habits).

HVA’s 75th Anniversary Gala will be on Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Bull’s Bridge Inn, 333 Kent Road, Rte 7, Kent, CT. It will feature dinner and entertainment.

Trip sponsors include the NRD Trustees, Connecticut DEEP, Massachusetts EOEEA, USFWS, NOAA, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Kimberly Clark and many others.

For more information, go to, call 860-672-6678 or email *****

Stocked Waters

The following waters were stocked with trout during the week of April 4:  Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland, South River in Ashfield, Swift River in Ashfield, Cummington and Goshen;  Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington, Middlefield, Savoy and Windsor; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida;  Chickley River in Charlemont, Hawley and Savoy; Cold River in Charlemont, Florida, and Savoy; Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Stones Brook in Goshen, Town Brook in Lanesborough, Green River and Hemlock Brook in Williamstown, Greenwater Pond in Becket, North Pond in Florida, Mansfield Lake in Great Barrington, Norwich Pond in Huntington, Pontoosuc Lake, Onota Lake and  Otis Reservoir. *****


It was anticipated that the following waters would be stocked the week of April 11: Hoosic River in Adams and Cheshire, Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Williams River in West  Stockbridge and Great Barrington, Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee, Konkapot River in Monterey and New Marlborough, Buck and Clam Rivers in Sandisfield, Ashfield Pond in Ashfield, North Pond in Florida, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Lake Garfield, York Lake, Otis Reservoir, Richmond Pond, Goose Pond, Windsor Lake and Windsor Pond.


Have you ever wondered how DFW gets such fine trout each year?  Well, if you click onto the MassWildlife Facebook page, you will see an excellent film showing how they spawn out the trout in the hatcheries.  Last fall they collected more than 1.7 million trout eggs.   After growing in the hatchery for 1.5 to 2.5 years, the trout will be ready for liberation into state waters.


New District Fisheries Manager

Andrew Madden, DFW Western District Manager has recently announced that Leanda Fontaine Gagnon has filled the position of District Fisheries Manager, formerly held by Dana Ohman who moved to Ohio last year. Leanda has been with the DFW for 11 years, most recently as an Aquatic Biologist in the Westboro Field headquarters.  She will be leading the regional stocking programs and aquatic resource inventory efforts.   With the addition of Leanda, the Western District is at full staffing levels for the first time in 2 years.


Map, Compass and Survival Course

This is an advanced skills course being offered free of charge by the MA Hunter Education Program.    The next course in the Berkshires is at the DCR Headquarters at 740 South Street, Pittsfield next Saturday from 8a.m. to 5p.m.  Students will be outdoors part of the day, rain or shine. They must come prepared, with a lunch, snacks, water, and a whistle and be dressed for outdoor activities (i.e. sunglasses, long pants, hiking shoes/boots, insect/tick repellent, rain gear and bright-colored outer clothing).    To enroll, call (508)389-7830. *****

Wear life jackets 

MassWildlife reminds us that paddlers are required to wear life jackets from September 15 to May 15.  Remember, most boating fatalities occur when the victim is not wearing a life jacket

Acid rain monitoring still going on



If you saw someone wearing boots and poking around in a nearby stream during that blustery snowstorm last Sunday, don’t worry.  They were perfectly sane people, called acid rain monitors (ARM’s), collecting their annual spring water samples from select water bodies throughout the Commonwealth.  All statewide sampling must be done on the same day (ARM Sunday).


The ARM project is headed up by UMASS which assigns the collection bottles, locations, collection and chain of custody sheets and collection procedures.   The volunteers collect from designated locations every year and must adhere to strict sampling standards to ensure that the data collected are not skewed in any way.


The goals of this project are to determine the overall trend of sensitivity to acidification in Massachusetts surface waters and whether the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment has resulted in improved water quality.  The study provides consistent sampling over a period of years.  The data are analyzed by scientists in order to monitor the effects of acid rain in our waters over a long period of time.


Between 1983 and 1985, the ARM Project used as many as 1,000 citizen volunteers to collect and help analyze more than 40,000 samples from 4,100 water bodies.   They also monitored 572 lakes and streams for eight successive years (1985 to 1993) with approximately 300 volunteers. Most of our local sampling was conducted by Trout Unlimited volunteers.


The results for the initial phases of the project showed:

  • 6% of lakes and streams in Massachusetts were acidified
  • 57% were sufficiently low in acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) to be considered threatened by acid deposition
  • 37% were not threatened
  • Lakes were slightly more sensitive than streams
  • Geographically, higher ANC was typical of extreme western parts of the state and lower ANC was typical of the north-central and southeastern portions.From 1983 to 1993, ARM surveyed 83% of all named water bodies in Massachusetts.  The project resumed in April, 2001 after an eight-year hiatus. Volunteers currently sample pH and alkalinity (ANC) for 150 lakes, ponds, and streams across the Commonwealth.Some 26 long-term sites are analyzed further for major anions, cations, and color. These sites are revisited as priority sites because historically they were acidified, very low in alkalinity, or demonstrated a significant trend for acidification.Here in the Berkshires, 16 water bodies are currently being analyzed.  They are:  Anthony and Barton Brooks in Dalton, Belmont Reservoir and Bilodeau Brook in Hinsdale, Benton Brook in Otis, Bog Pond in Savoy, Cady Brook in Washington, Cheshire Reservoir (north), Sleepy Hollow Brook in Richmond, Soda Creek in Sheffield, Upper Spectacle Pond in Sandisfield, Walker Brook in Becket, Williams River in West Stockbridge, Kilburn Brook in Peru, Lake Garfield in Monterey, and Long Pond in Great Barrington. A couple of other sites are covered in nearby Hampden County.Currently, there are about 90 volunteer collectors statewide.  We have 8 in the Berkshires: Dr. Richard Greene of Tyringham, Marc Hoechstetter of Cummington, Lauren Gaherty of Pittsfield, Robert Paradyz of Hinsdale, Bob Kross of East Otis, Pat Storey of Tolland  and my wife Jan and me.  Most collectors have been doing so for about 20 years with a couple around 30 years.So were there any changes since 1983?    Here are the results of the most recent analysis from UMASS:
  • While most sites show no significant change in pH or ANC over time, more sites have seen an acidity decrease than an increase since passage of the Clean Air Act in 1990 (pH and ANC are higher now, which is good).


  • In 1988, of the 150 sites sampled, 124 sites were categorized Sensitive or worse, with 19

sites listed as Acidified. By 2010, 10 of those 19 sites are no longer Acidified, showing a   marked improvement over the years.


  • For the 26 long-term sites, most cations show no significant change except sodium and

chloride have noticeably increased – very likely from road salting practices.


  • Sulfate shows a strong decrease for over 2/3 of the sites, a clear consequence of the

Clean Air Act. Nitrate does not show the same trend, because the increase in emissions

from vehicles is greater than the decrease in emissions from industry.


The results of our local waters appear to mirror the rest of the state.  Currently, all but one water body have pH factors above 6 with half having readings of 7 or above.  (A pH of 7 is considered neutral).  Belmont Reservoir in Hinsdale still has pH readings of around 5.25, but even that shows some improvement over the years.  In the 1980’s it had pH readings in the 3 and 4 range.


More details can be found in the UMASS full report at:


The collectors gladly volunteer their time each year on this project because they are concerned about the health of our waters and they know that the data obtained is important.  Over the years they have hiked remote icy wood roads,  negotiated slippery banks, climbed over high snow banks, braved stormy weather and falling limbs (like last Sunday) getting these samples.  They expected nothing in return other than knowing that they were doing something important for our environment.


Well, they were pleasantly surprised when in 2013 (30th anniversary of the ARM project) they all received formal Citations from Governor Deval Patrick, “In appreciation of their commitment to ecosystems of the Commonwealth.” *****


The Worthington Rod & Gun Club at 458 Dingle Road, Worthington, is conducting a Basic Hunter Education Course on April 18, 19, 21 and 22 from 5:30pm to 9:00pm.  Call 508-389-7830 to enroll. *****

Sometimes I do not receive the most current trout stocking information by deadline.  In such cases, click onto for the information, which is updated daily.