Watch CT Legislators Announce New Federal Efforts to Protect the Lower Farmington River & Salmon Brook

FRWA is pleased to share the following video of Congressmen Chris Murphy and John Larson, and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Joe Lieberman's remarks announcing new legislation to create a U.S. National Park Service Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protective designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook, through the ten towns of Avon, Bloomfield, Burlington, Canton, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, Hartland, Simsbury, and Windsor.  If you cannot play the video below, please click on this link to go to the CT-N website:

Lower Wild & Scenic Farmington & Salmon Brook Press Conference

On Monday, May 21 at 11:00 am at the Tariffville Mill (2 Tunxis Road, Tariffville, CT 06081) there will be a press conference with Congressmen Chris Murphy and John Larson, and Senators Joe Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal announcing that the Lower Farmington River & Salmon Brook Wild & Scenic River Act Bill (Number HR. 4360) has been introduced to the House of Representatives.

We hope you can join us for this exciting event.  If you cannot attend or would like to learn more about the bill, visit the Library of Congress’s THOMAS website where you can track any bill introduced in Washington.  To track the Wild & Scenic Bill, simply enter in “HR. 4360” and you can keep track of the bill as it goes through the process.

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.

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!

Local Gallery Displays Etchings By Melissa Meredith

The Art Co. Gallery is displaying Etchings by Local Artist Melissa Meredith. Sales of these etchings will go to support the FRWA and we are glad to support this budding gallery. To visit The Art Co. eminent domain Gallery, please call (860) 738-9585 or email to make an appointment. The gallery expects to be open between 12-4:30 and is located at 2 Mountain View in Avon, CT across from the Old Avon Village.

River Inspired Jewelry Benefits FRWA

FRWA has a great holiday gift suggestion for you this year.  Our own Board Member and Local Artist Deborah Leonard designed this piece inspired by the River.  This jewelry is available exclusively at Bill Selig Jewelers located in Simsbury and Windsor, CT.

In Debrah’s own words on designing the piece for FRWA: The sunlight swirling in soft waves on the Farmington River was my inspiration for this jewelry design.  As a board member of FRWA, I was asked to come up with a design that would represent us.

Water is what we are about, but this organization stands for far more than our watershed alone. We join forces with a concerned planet by conserving and protecting and being advocates for this basic commodity for all life.  I wanted the design to be universal and beautiful.  Hopefully, you will agree that Bill Selig’s pieces in precious metals have done this.

Bill Selig Jeweler’s, in Simsbury and Windsor, is selling my design in white gold, gold, sterling silver and gold plate over sterling silver.  It can be purchased as pendants in large, medium, or small as well as earrings, lapel pins and money clips.

I donated my design to this project and Bill gives FRWA a donation for every piece he sells. The slip of paper with information accompanying each piece was designed by Group 4, Simsbury as a donation to FRWA.

You can help us protect this precious resource by purchasing a piece for the Holidays, a birthday, or anniversary. The Farmington River Watershed benefits from each sale. That means we can protect, educate and advocate for you.

For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect for the wild river, for the complex workings of a wetland, for the intricate web of life that water supports.” Sandra Postel, Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, 2003

Thank you to all who have or will purchase this jewelry.

–    Sincerely Deborah Leonard