MassWildlife reports that the freshwater algae Didymosphenia geminata (a.k.a Didymo or “rock snot”) was recently observed by Dr. Caleb Slater, a fisheries biologist with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW)  in the West Branch of the Westfield River in the town of Chester.  DFW collected samples and made the preliminary identification which was later confirmed by independent experts.

This is the second occurrence of didymo in the state.  The first was in 2013 in the Green River in Alford and Egremont.  The Green River algae bloom began in May of 2013, lasted only a short time and had no detectable impact on the resource.  Didymo was virtually undetectable in samples collected later in the summer of 2013, and no visible blooms have been found in the Green River by the Division since that time. There have been no reported changes to fisheries resulting from the Didymo blooms.

Didymo is a freshwater diatom that occurs in North America. It is unknown how many streams in Massachusetts contain Didymo, as it is visually undetectable unless in bloom. Blooms may appear gray, brown, or white and has a texture of wet wool or cotton balls. Blooms, which happen only when certain conditions (including flow, nutrients, light intensity, and water chemistry) are present, can produce a dense covering on rocky substrate and eventually result in long stalks. Extensive Didymo blooms can temporarily cover river bottoms almost entirely. Didymo generally occurs in cold, clear, nutrient-poor waters with a neutral or slightly basic pH. Conditions typical of the Upper Westfield River drainages should greatly limit the occurrence of Didymo blooms.

Didymo blooms have been observed in several surrounding states:  NH, VT, CT, NY, PA, VA, MD and WV.  Whether it was always present in the Massachusetts waters where blooms have occurred or is a recent introduction is unknown. Click onto the MassWildlife web site to see what this stuff looks like.

There is no known method for eliminating or controlling Didymo blooms. “Basically, the bloom has to run its course,” says Todd Richards, Assistant Director of Fisheries for the DFW. “All recreational users should always thoroughly wash their equipment/clothing/waders/boats in hot, soapy water. Boats/equipment and other non-absorbent materials should be scrubbed. Soft, absorbent materials should soak in hot, soapy water for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is particularly important with felt-sole waders or other slow drying material such as sneakers, towels, and related items.” *****

On Tuesday, September 29, the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board will present its highest award, the Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award, to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC).   The event is scheduled to take place at 1:30 PM. and will be held at the BNRC’s Steadman Pond Reserve (a Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) Conservation Easement), which is located  on the Monterey-Tyringham Road in Tyringham.

The award was established in 2000 by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to recognize someone who has made significant contributions to the conservation of natural resources in the Commonwealth and is presented whenever warranted by the Board.  The Sargent Award is named for former Governor Francis W. Sargent, an avid conservationist and outdoorsman who served as DFW in 1963 and ’64.


The BNRC is a non-profit land conservation organization working throughout the Berkshires to preserve threatened lands.   BNRC, DFW and other partners have put together many projects totaling thousands of acres ensuring free access to the general public.  They are instrumental in helping land owners to conserve their lands in perpetuity.  Tens of thousands of acres of open spaces and scenic vistas have been conserved and most, if not all, of them are open to the public for passive recreation.

You may recall that the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS) presented them with the 2012 Silvio O. Conte Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award.

If you are not doing anything that Tuesday, you might want to head for Tyringham to observe the awarding. If not, I’ll cover it for you and write about it in a future column.  I’m sure many fine words will be spoken about them, all richly deserved.

Prior to that event, the Fish and Wildlife Board will hold its monthly public meeting at 10:00 A.M., at the Tyringham Town Hall at 116 Main Road. *****

There will be a Gun Owners Action League Seminar at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club on Tuesday September 29, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.  The 3 hour seminar, entitled MA Gun Law for Citizens, will be presented by Jon Green, Director of Education and Training for GOAL.  It will help to separate fact from fiction.  Jon’s presentation will provide a basic understanding of current Massachusetts gun laws and regulations, including an overview of changes resulting from the enactment of MGL Chapter 284 last August.  It is free to residents of Berkshire County, courtesy of the SSC.


RSVP to Robert McDermott, Tel. 413-232-7700 or Robmcdermott so they can plan seating for this event.   *****


The Pittsfield Sportsmen’s Club will be having a buffet dinner at the ITAM Lodge on Friday, October 2, which will benefit its Land Development program.  Cocktails served at 6:00 and dinner at 7:00 PM.  There will be a 50/50 and other raffles.   Tickets, which cost $15 for adults and $8 for children under 10, can be obtained from the following people: Travis Delratez – (413)441-7979, Fran Tremblay – (413)443-5133, Dave Pemble – (413)443-0646 and Mike Furey – (413)822-1959. *****


CIVITAN will be putting on a training tournament at the American Legion pond in Dalton on September 26.  It is a concerted effort between CIVITAN, BCLS and Special Olympics.  Some 350 trout will be provided by the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery.  Training will be conducted by DFW’s Angler Education folks.  About 30 people are expected to participate.   The public is invited to watch, and hopefully, help out. *****


Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com.   Phone/fax:  (413) 637-1818


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