Important Conservation Vote in Simsbury on May 15th – Ethel Walker Woods

FRWA urges our members in Simsbury to vote yes on the Ethel Walker Woods Phase II referendum on May 15th, 2012.  Voting Yes on Question 4 will approve the 2.05 Million Dollar appropriation for Phase 2A of the Ethel Walker Woods conservation.  Of the 2.05 Million Dollar appropriation, one third of the money has been secured by state and federal grants.  If this fails to pass, the $1,000,000 deposit made in 2007 (passed Nov 2006) will be forfeited, $691,000 in grant funding will be lost and the 90 acres of Phase 2 A and 2 B will be vulnerable to future development.

For more information on the Ethel Walker Woods Project, please visit or The Trust for Public Land.
For a compelling reason to support this project’s second phase please read this fact sheet on the project from the Highlands Conservation Act.  The text of this document has been copied and pasted below:

The State of Connecticut requests Highlands Conservation Act funds to protect Phase II of the Ethel Walker Property–91 acres of ecologically rich forest, streams, meadows and floodplains. The Town of Simsbury, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land and The Ethel Walker School, permanently protected 336 acres in the first phase of this effort in July 2007. At closing, the Town made a $1 million non-refundable deposit on an option to purchase the remaining 91 acres.

The Ethel Walker land contains class I watershed land and is the primary recharge area for the Stratton Brook Aquifer. This aquifer supplies numerous private wells and provides drinking water to more than 10,000 residents.

There are extensive pubic hiking and equestrian trails here. Large stands of mature conifers support more than 60 forest nesting and migratory bird species. The American Bittern, a CT endangered species, has been documented here by the Hartford Audubon Society. Stratton Brook supports native Eastern Brook Trout, in decline throughout CT.

Ethel Walker is contiguous with several preserved properties; if all 427 acres here are preserved, the property would form the core of 1,400 acres of open space. This unique property has been an open space priority for the town and the State of Connecticut for many years.

If a Tree Falls in the River…

Is that a problem? Well, it depends. Downed trees or branches (a.k.a Large Woody Debris) benefit river life in general by providing food and habitat. And they provide lurking places for those really big fish that anglers love to catch. A tree should be left where it is whenever possible. But sometimes a downed tree in the river is a genuine danger to boaters or property.

To find the balance between fish habitat and boater hazard, ask yourself: Is there a safe way to paddle under or around the tree in both high and low water? Is there a safe route to portage around it without trespassing? Can a passage be made by cutting some branches away? Is there a hazard of boats being pinned by the current
against the trunk? More about these situations can be found at

If you feel that action should be taken for boater safety, take these steps before you cut: First, consult with the riverbank landowners and your town Wetlands Commission for any needed permission to work on the riverbank. You might also consult with the local Department of Public Works or a local boating group, or the CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division’s Habitat Conservation and Enhancement program (860-424-3474). Also, you can follow the advice in the CT DEEP’s Large Woody Debris Fact Sheet, at

Did the tree in the river get there by beaver intervention?  Check out the DEEP's fact sheet on beavers in Connecticut.

Farmington Resident Helps Restore Farmington River

Habitat restoration in the Farmington River just took a big step forward, thanks to a major gift of $250,000 from Prudence Pease Cutler to the Farmington River Watershed Association.  “There are no words which could accurately depict how much this means to all of us who are dedicated to the FRWA and its mission,” said Michael Gagne, President of FRWA.  The gift is in memory of R. Dennis Cutler, a longtime resident of Farmington who rowed and fly fished on the river and whose family has strong ties to the Farmington River.  Mr. Cutler’s sisters were Helen Winter of the Helen Winter Grist Mill and Ruth (June) Chapman Ford, co-owner of the Mill Race Bookstore.  The gift will support the

construction of a rock ramp fishway over the Grist Mill (Winchell Smith) Dam. The ramp will mimic the appearance and function of a natural rapid, opening the way for American shad and river herring to get past the dam and swim upstream to historic spawning grounds. The gift can also be used to enhance recreational access to the river at the Grist Mill site or other local areas of the river. It is expected that preparations for the Grist Mill fishway project will begin in late 2012 or early 2013.

March 31, 2012, Watershed Wander, Canton Town Hall Auditorium

Watershed Wander, Saturday, March 31, 2 pm, Canton Town Hall Auditorium: An exploration of how the Farmington River works its way downhill to Long Island Sound and how animals of the Farmington River live, eat, travel, and rest in water that’s always on the move. The presentation will combine pictures and stories, and create movement for participants of all ages. Followed by an exciting performance of Sonia Plumb Dance Company’s “Water Wars” – a dance about our relationship to water. Free; no pre-registration. More information about “Water Wars” at:

Paddle & Pedal Simsbury, 10 am

Paddle and Pedal Simsbury, Saturday May 19,
10 am: Bring your bike and meet FRWA at the Pinchot Sycamore, where Collinsville Canoe and Kayak will supply canoes or kayaks for an easy flatwater paddle downstream to Curtiss Park. We will bring your bicycles to the take-out so you can bike back to your car on the Farmington River bike trail. On the way, take a leisurely detour into
town to enjoy the day’s Art Walk exhibits or stop for lunch! Bicycling distance about 4.5 miles. Preregistration required. Cost: $15/member, $20/nonmember.  Call (860) 658-4442 ext “0” to register. See you there!

Fabulous Fish for the Farmington Gala and Auction – April 22, 2012

The Farmington River Watershed Association and REI West Hartford have partnered to present the second Fabulous Fish for the Farmington silent auction and gala to be held at REI West Hartford on Earth Day, April 22, 2012 from 7 to 9 pm. There will be good food, friends, music, and we will be auctioning off the most fabulous fish ever!  Last held in 2010, the Fabulous Fish fundraiser proved to be one of the most successful fundraisers for the Farmington River Watershed Association.

Drawing on the talents of locally, nationally and internationally known artists, life-size Dogfish from the 2010 Auctionwooden fish will be individually decorated and auctioned off, proceeds help protect water quality and foster environmental stewardship throughout the Farmington River Watershed.  Designs for the Fabulous Fish are inspired by the natural diversity of the watershed, the beauty of fish, and the creativity of the artists.

Come for a night of fun and your chance to bid on some fabulous folk-art fish. Check out to view fish from the 2010 auction. Fish blanks are available for fish artists at FRWA, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury during normal business hours. We request a small donation per fish blank to cover expenses. For more information about the event, please call 860.658-4442. Celebrate the Watershed through the “fin” arts.

April 22, 7 to 9 pm

REI, 71 Raymond Road, Blue Back Square, West Hartford

Atlantic Salmon Stocking Volunteer Meeting, March 22, 2012

7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Farmington Public Library

6 Monteith Drive, Farmington

 The Connecticut Inland Fisheries Division is looking for volunteers to assist in stocking Atlantic salmon fry.  An informational meeting has been scheduled for Thursday March 22nd for those who are interested.  There will be a presentation and update on the Salmon Restoration Program and a brief discussion of stocking and what is expected of volunteers.  Volunteers must be physically fit and available on weekdays.  The streams to be stocked are in the Farmington and Salmon River watersheds and are scheduled for stocking between mid April and late May.  Individuals interested in volunteering who cannot attend the meeting should contact Bruce Williams or the Farmington River Watershed Association at the addresses listed below.

Directions:  Farmington Library Main Branch is off Rte.4, near the high school and Town Hall.  For further directions contact the Library at 860-673-6791 or

For more information contact: Bruce Williams, DEEP/Marine Headquarters, 860-447-4317, email:,  or the Farmington River Watershed Association, 860-658-4442Program handout here.

Running the Faucet on the Farmington: February 18, 2012, 12 noon at the Canton Public Library

You are invited to join FRWA for “Running the Faucet on the Farmington,” a presentation by Tim Anthony, Hydroelectric supervisor, Metropolitan District.

Last fall, Hurricane Irene’s impact would certainly have been worse if the dams on the upper Farmington had not held back some of her floodwaters.  But even on an ordinary day, how is flow from the dams managed so as to comply with regulations and support hydropower, recreation, and aquatic life, as well as protect against floods and droughts?  If you paddle, fish, or live along the Farmington River, you may have wondered — especially as the water rose or fell — how releases from Goodwin Dam and Colebrook River Dam are decided, and how the river’s flow controls came to be.   In his presentation, Tim will share the sometimes-turbulent history of flow management, and then walk you through the current process of turning the tap on a river so as to balance many competing needs on a day-to-day basis.

To be held at the Canton Public Library, Room F, Saturday February 18th at 12 Noon.   Admission is free.

FRWA picks Winner of Guild Guitar Raffle at 24th Annual River Clean Up

FRWA's Board President Matt Reichin drew the winning ticket in FRWA's first Guitar Raffle and the winner is……….. P.K. Allen of Simsbury! P.K. is pictured here with (from right to left) Board member Deborah Leonard, Education & Outreach Coordinator Aimee Petras, Board President Matt Reichin and Board Member Marlene Snecinski.

P.K. said he was excited to start playing this guitar. He regularily plays for the folks at McLean. Congrats P.K. we are glad you won!