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Blog - Charles River Watershed Association

Highlights from 2017

Posted by Alexandra Ash

12/17/17 8:19 PM

2017 was a busy year for environmental organizations nationwide—including Charles River Watershed Association— as we fought for the continued enforcement of environmental laws. On a local level in Massachusetts, we advocated for policies and projects that will help our communities adapt to extreme storms and frequent drought. Throughout the year we continued our core field science work and expanded the Blue Cities demonstration projects that are greening neighborhoods throughout the watershed. Each day we do this work we are thankful to you for making it possible!

Please consider giving a year-end gift to support CRWA's powerful advocacy and river restoration in 2018.

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Charles River Herring Run 2017

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

5/18/17 12:00 PM

Blog post by CRWA's Aquatic Scientist

The herring are back! It's that time of year; alewife and bluback herring have once again returned to the Charles River to spawn. Estimates of the river herring population on the Charles run upwards of 300,000 fish, making our herring run one of the largest in Massachusetts. Based on historic observations, we expect that the majority of herring, approximately 80% of the run, will pass through the Watertown Dam within the next week. The fish ladder the herring will use to swim against the current over the dam is on the southern bank of the river, but you can easily see the fish waiting in calmer waters under trees just below the dam from the Charles River Greenway on the north bank of the river. If you have polarized sunglasses, you can get an even better view! If you are unable to walk or bike to the Watertown Dam, limited parking is available at the DCR parking lot off of Pleasant Street on the north side of the river and on the side of California Street on the south side of the River. Fish that pass over the Watertown Dam continue their journey upstream in search of streams that feed into the Charles River, such as Beaver Brook and Stony Brook in Waltham and the newly-restored Fuller Brook, Rosemary Brook, and Waban Brook in Wellesley. Some herring do not continue up to the Watertown Dam after passing through the locks at Boston Harbor and instead swim up the Muddy River in Boston. If you see herring or other fish in the Charles River or one of its tributary streams, send us your photos on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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Stocking the Charles River with Trout

Posted by Nick King

5/11/17 10:42 AM

Guest blog post by fisherman, retired Boston Globe writer and CRWA volunteer Nick King

Much has been written, and rightly so, about the tremendous progress that has been made in cleaning up the Charles so that it is, at times, a swimmable river. Much less publicized is the fact that the Charles is increasingly fishable too, and I don’t mean just for its plentiful native bass, pickerel, carp and panfish but also for the wiliest and most sought-after species the trout.

 

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Green Budget: Massachusetts needs 1% for the environment

Posted by Alexandra Ash

4/18/17 1:31 PM

Currently only 0.5% of the state operating budget supports environmental agencies, agencies that are asked to do more with less—including responding to the drought, reducing emissions, ensuring clean water and preparing for the impacts of climate change.CRWA, as a member of the Green Budget Coalition, advocates for allocating 1% of the state budget for the environment. The Green Budget recommendations include increased spending for climate change adaptation, improving water quality, protecting wetlands, restoring habitat and maintaining parks.

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In Bellingham, the Charles River now flows more freely

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

3/23/17 2:40 PM

Charles River Flows Free

The Charles River after the removal of the  Old Mill Dam in Bellingham. Photo by Allen Orsi. 

After more than a year spent permitting the project and four months of on-site work dredging sediment and deconstructing the Old Mill Dam, the Charles River now flows freely from the North Bellingham dam to the West Medway dam. Although revegetation of the river banks and the newly-capped backwatering area that has been filled with dredged sediment will take several months (not much will grow through the recent snow!), the restoration project is now complete with the exception of the construction of a stormwater treatment basin that will clean runoff from Pearl Street before it makes its way to the river.

 

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The Muddy River Then and Now: Water Quality in 2006 vs. 2016

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

1/23/17 5:33 PM

The Muddy River, which runs a course of 2.9 miles from Jamaica Pond to the Charles River, is the most significant tributary of the lower Charles River. As a prominent feature of the famous Emerald Necklace parks, its fate was marginally better than most tributaries of the lower Charles in that it was only partially buried and not completely buried in the frenzy to make more land available around Boston in the early 1900’s. Nonetheless, the river was seriously impacted by this human interference. The river lost some of its natural ability to flush sediment that accumulates in the river as a result of stormwater runoff and was unable to adequately dissipate flooding across its floodplain. Severe flooding in the 1990’s made it clear that the human-altered Muddy River system was not working, and an effort to restore the river’s natural characteristics was needed.

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Removing dams can improve river health

Posted by Alexandra Ash

12/20/16 10:09 AM

Updated 3/23/17

Built to generate power for industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, dams served an important role in the history of the Charles River watershed. However, dams slowed the flow of the Charles River, hampering its ability to cleanse itself. Dams also prevented migratory river herring from reaching upstream reaches of the river to spawn. While some Charles River dams provide flood control, many of the dams on the Charles River bring more problems than benefits. When dams become obsolete, their removal can benefit rivers and the surrounding communities. These Frequently Asked Questions discuss the benefits and challenges of dam removal. 

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The Year in Review- Highlights from 2016

Posted by Alexandra Ash

12/14/16 9:59 AM

2016 marked important milestones for the restoration of the Charles River and its watershed: the elimination of heat pollution from the Kendall Power Plant, the daylighting of the Muddy River, and the removal of the hazardous sandbar near Brighton. 2016 also saw the worst drought since the 1960's, persistent stormwater pollution, another cyanobacteria bloom in the Charles River Lower Basin, and the nomination of a new US EPA Administrator who questions climate change. Through it all, CRWA passionately continued our work throughout the watershed developing smart, green water infrastructure, promoting restorative ways to reduce stormwater pollution and flooding, and advocating for strong and effective water policy and regulations. We couldn't have done this work without you—thank you! 

Below are just a few of the highlights from 2016. 

 

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First dam removal on the Charles River begins

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

10/26/16 12:01 PM

Bellingham Old Mill Dam

The Old Mill Dam on Pearl Street in Bellingham. 

12/20/2016 Update: The removal of the Old Mill Dam in Bellngham has begun!

 

This year, the Town of Bellingham will begin work to remove the Old Mill Dam on Peal Street in Bellingham, making Mill Dam the first Charles River dam to be removed. The Town of Bellingham is the first town to begin a dam removal project in the Charles River Watershed. This project was made possible with financial support from the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Program and technical support from the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). Removing the dam, which is unsafe in its current state, will reconnect 9.2 miles of river habitat upstream of the dam to 50 miles of unobstructed river downstream. 

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Charles River Watershed Association Restores Habitat to Magazine Beach

Posted by Nishaila Porter

8/10/16 5:33 PM

False Indigo

Cut false indigo at Magazine Beach

This year, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) will restore wildlife habitat and improve water quality in the Charles River. This project is funded by a competitive grant CRWA received from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through their Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program. The two-year grant was awarded for enhancements to DCR’s Magazine Beach in Cambridgeport and will fund CRWA’s work to restore existing wetlands, add and maintain rain gardens, and remove invasive weeds at the park.

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About Charles River Watershed Association:

One of the country's oldest watershed organizations, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles. Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts, working with government officials and citizen groups from 35 Massachusetts watershed towns from Hopkinton to Boston. Initiatives over the last fifty years have dramatically improved the quality of water in the watershed and fundamentally changed approaches to water resource management.