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First Mass River Summit brings member groups from across the state (and Rhode Island!)

“We’re a different breed in the Berkshires.”

“I wish people wouldn’t talk about ‘the towns’ as if they’re completely separate. The towns are us. We live and work in towns.”

“We calculated the amount of dog poop produced each day in the South River watershed and it weighs as much as an elephant!”

These were some of the voices we heard on June 6 from, respectively, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, the Ipswich River Watershed Association, and the North and South River Watershed Association, three of seven presenters at the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance’s first River Summit. The event was intended to bring together Mass Rivers organizational members to learn about each other’s work, and to meet and share ideas. And it did! Forty-five participants came from the North and South Shores, Boston and Metro areas, greater Worcester, Connecticut River Valley, the Berkshires, and Rhode Island -a truly diverse cross-section of groups were represented.

The presentations were grouped into two categories: Data-driven Advocacy, and Partnerships for Healthy Rivers. Presenters shared stories about creating a river report card, using science to influence hydro relicensing (to protect spawning fish), using mapping and monitoring to fix stormwater problems, and creating an “alternative TMDL.” We also heard about municipal partnerships on stormwater education and water conservation and collaborations between environmental partner groups on coldwater fisheries restoration efforts, with plenty of practical advice and some war stories along the way.

We also facilitated a great discussion with our member organizations about the role Mass Rivers can play in supporting their work and emerging issues that we should consider for the future.

We were delighted with the success of our first Mass Rivers Summit and plan to offer another one next year. Stay tuned!

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