FRWA Hiring: Seasonal River Stewards, Summer 2017 (PT)

The Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) is accepting applications for two River Stewards for summer 2017.  River Stewards will work in the field, laboratory, and office on several projects, including weekly water quality sampling and analysis; assessments of aquatic animal passage at road-stream crossings as weather permits; outreach (live and online) to promote safe and responsible river recreation; and assisting with FRWA’s “River Smart” outreach activities.

Background.  The Farmington River is one of the most popular recreational rivers in Connecticut, with world-class trout fishing and whitewater paddling reaches, plus flatwater stretches and riverside trails.  It has small scale hydropower, and provides drinking water for over 450,000 people in greater Hartford.  Though intensively managed, it still faces challenges to its water quality and aquatic life.

FRWA is the private, non-profit organization, founded in 1953, that is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and restoring the Farmington River and its watershed.  (see www.frwa.org.)  Seasonal positions at FRWA provide broad experience in watershed management, monitoring, planning, and public education, and balancing the many demands made on this natural resource.

Overview.  River Steward seasonal staff are based in FRWA’s office in Simsbury, CT.  They have responsibilities typical for entry-level professional positions in watershed associations (details below).  Their work entails travel throughout watershed towns as needed.  Seasonal staff are expected to work up to 24 hours per week, depending on need and weather, for up to 11 weeks from late May or early June through early to mid-August.   Most work is during regular weekday hours; early morning or early evening hours are sometimes needed.

Seasonal staff participate in:

Water quality monitoring.  FRWA provides water quality data to the CT DEEP as part of state compliance with the Clean Water Act;  data collection and analysis is therefore held to a high standard.   Monitoring is ongoing throughout the season and requires at least one seasonal staff every Monday and Tuesday.   It includes training; collecting water samples from the field; laboratory preparation and analysis of samples for bacteria, data quality assurance and entry.  Other tasks may include placing temperature data loggers, choosing additional sampling sites, and field collection of benthic macroinvertebrates.

Stream crossing assessments.   Seasonal staff will work with FRWA staff to evaluate road-stream crossings (culverts and bridges) in the lower Farmington River for their ability to allow passage of aquatic animals.  The process also identifies crossings vulnerable to failure in extreme storm events.  We use the protocol of the North Atlantic Aquatic Continuity Collaborative (NAACC), used by other agencies and organizations throughout the Northeast.   Data are uploaded to a regional database for viewing and analysis.  Seasonal staff undergo mandatory training and testing in the protocol; obtain and record data at field sites; and assist with reviewing and uploading data.  Note, this work is highly dependent on appropriate stream flow conditions.  Drought will significantly reduce the hours available.

Public education and outreach.  This may entail face-to-face interaction with recreational users to encourage safe practices and good river etiquette, maintaining a lively online presence for FRWA on our website and in social media, and participating in programs, events, and field trips for youth and the general public.  A high priority in summer 2017 is assisting with FRWA’s “River Smart” outreach program.  Its objective is to engage people in adopting practices that reduce polluted stormwater runoff. 

Qualifications.  The ideal candidate is an advanced undergraduate or recent graduate, highly motivated to pursue environmental management, restoration, or advocacy as a profession.  Coursework in environmental science and experience in field work and data collection are strongly preferred.   A can-do attitude, imagination, interest in learning, flexible response to circumstances, “people skills,” and good humor are important.

Job Requirements.  Seasonal staff are expected to:

  • Work well on a team or independently, and be at ease with a variety of people;
  • Have excellent written, verbal, and online communication skills;
  • Represent FRWA in a friendly and professional manner;
  • Have their own reliable transportation at all times;
  • Commit and adjust to weekly hours that vary with weather and task;
  • Climb up and down steep banks and wade in rocky streams;
  • Paddle a canoe or kayak in flatwater or mild current (Class 1-2);
  • Work outdoors and cope with poison ivy, thorns, ticks, insects, and wildlife;
  • Have experience in safe guidance of youngsters in an outdoor setting;
  • Be diligent about details when analyzing, recording, and uploading data;
  • Be familiar with (or quickly learn) basics of GIS software, Google Maps, and use of GPS units;
  • Be good organizers and take responsibility for the success of an event or activity;
  • Be communicative and accountable, with “deliverables” that are complete and timely.

Compensation.  $10 per hour.  Travel to field sites will be compensated at $0.54 per mile.  This position may require a background check.

To apply, send a cover letter, resume, two professional references, and two writing samples to:

Eileen Fielding, FRWA, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT  06070  or efielding@frwa.org

Deadline.   Applications will be accepted until positions are filled.  Hiring decisions are anticipated in April or early May.

FRWA Hiring: Project Support Coordinator (PT)

Background.  The Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) is a community-based organization founded in 1953 with a mission of protecting the Farmington River and its watershed lands in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Farmington River boasts a renowned trout fishery in its West Branch (a federally designated Wild & Scenic River) and excellent paddling, including the famous whitewater of Tariffville Gorge.  Multi-use trails along its banks enhance quality of life in riverside towns.  Its East Branch (now a reservoir) supplies high-quality drinking water to greater Hartford.  However, the river’s well-being requires ongoing community engagement and action.  FRWA mobilizes people to watch over and maintain the natural features and functions of this remarkable river.

FRWA’s primary mission activities are Research and Stewardship (hands-on water quality monitoring, field assessments, and habitat restoration); Education (programs, classes, workshops, field trips, online and print media about pollution prevention, watersheds, and other topics); and Advocacy (promoting changes in personal behavior or public policy that enhance river health and public health). For more information, see www.frwa.org.

Position Description.  FRWA’s small staff works on a variety of mission-related projects that frequently take them out of the office.  FRWA seeks a Project Support Coordinator to work with staff on maintaining in-house functions that are essential to successfully implementing our Outreach, Advocacy, Research, and Stewardship.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring website and social media; tracking and enhancing the reach of posts; taking photos for posts and publications.
  • Working with staff to prepare and send timely reports, filings, and other communications to agencies, foundations, and donors.
  • Coordinating and supporting volunteers as needed.
  • Planning and preparing for events, workshops, programs, and work days.
  • General administrative support, such as responding to selected email and phone inquiries; troubleshooting technical issues; or updating FRWA procedures, manuals, and core documents as needed.

Qualifications.  The ideal candidate has excellent “people skills,” writes and speaks well, knows Microsoft Office, can work independently, learns quickly, communicates clearly, enjoys keeping a multi-faceted organization running smoothly, likes to organize, is very detail-oriented, contributes to a cheerful and positive team atmosphere, and embraces FRWA’s mission.  Experience at an environmental non-profit and technical knowledge about river stewardship are desirable.  Experience in customer service, social media marketing, contract reporting, volunteer coordination, development, business administration, or non-profit administration could all be advantages.

Compensation.  This is a 1-year part-time position, with a possible extension contingent on funding.

Schedule negotiable; up to 8 hrs/week, on 1-2 days during normal business hours.  Hourly rate dependent on experience (starts well above minimum).

To Apply:  Send cover letter, resume, and 3 references by regular mail or email to:

Coordinator Job Search, FRWA, 749 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT   06070,   or efielding@frwa.org.

Deadline.  March 15 or until filled.

Forest Stewardship Forum, April 17, 6:00 pm, Simsbury Public Library

The Town of Simsbury, the Simsbury Land Trust, the Canton Land Conservation Trust and the Farmington River Watershed Association cordially invite you to attend:

The Future of Our Forests:  Stewarding Our Lands Thoughtfully

This Regional Forum will feature Dr. Edward Faison, Senior Ecologist from Highstead, a regional organization in Redding, CT dedicated to forest research and long term monitoring.  Dr. Faison will present information on how municipalities and land trusts can establish a landscape and historical approach to stewarding our protected preserves and better understand How, When and Why we should monitor and manage our forests.

We will provide a light supper at 6:00 pm with the program starting at 7:00 pm on April 17 in the Program Room at the Simsbury Public Library, 725 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury CT.

Questions and RSVP’s (by April 10th) to Helen Peterson, hkpeterson@comcast.net.

Drought 2016: An Open Letter from FRWA Board President

Dear FRWA Supporters,

Deborah Leonard, artist and FRWA board member, dedicated this painting to water conservation awareness. Learn more about Deborah at deborahleonardart.com

Deborah Leonard, artist and FRWA board member, dedicated this painting to water conservation awareness. Learn more about Deborah at deborahleonardart.com

It has been a long hot dry summer, followed by a spectacular warm dry fall. We could not have asked for a better stretch of weather, or could we? I want to share with you my personal experience over the past several weeks. Not long ago I awoke on a Friday morning to find that I was completely out of water. Not a drop from any faucet in the house.

After having my well system looked at, I hoped it was something simple, I was informed that my well had run dry and that my options were a hydrofrack or a new well. Two weeks later the hydrofrack took place and the following morning 2300 gallons of water had disappeared. A complete and total failure as the water table has dropped so significantly that the water seeped back into the earth.

As I write this, I am now on a waiting list to have a new well drilled. Drillers are presently booked out months in advance and their clients are doing what I am doing, hauling water in rain barrels, pumping it into their systems, showering and doing laundry at neighbor’s homes who are on city water. I am told by people in the water business that they have never seen it this bad.  What I realized in all of this is how few people have any recognition that we are in a severe drought. When I describe my experience, people look at me incredulously and tell me they had no idea. Frankly unless you drive by a reservoir, a river or a lake there is no indication that we are in such dire straits.

At the monthly FRWA meetings we discuss the issue regularly but until it hits home you truly have no idea. I am now living day to day, hoping to be able to flush the toilet, possibly wash a dish or two or get a drink. Life has completely changed and what I once took for granted, fresh clean running water, has become a luxury.

Now is the time for public awareness! Now is the time for everyone to recognize the need for conservation! This can start at home.

  • Don’t let water run while you brush your teeth or wash your face.
  • Cut down on your time in the shower ( an eight minute shower uses over 18 gallons of water).
  • Check for leaky or running toilets.
  • Follow the saying “ if it’s yellow just be mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. Even the most efficient toilets use 1.6 gallons a flush. Think of that in terms of a gallon and a half container of milk or cider you might carry from the store. It’s a lot of liquid.
  • Invest in rain barrels. They hold 50 gallons of liquid and had I not had them I would not have been able to move the 400 gallons of city water I needed to keep the house running.
  • Stop watering the gardens and lawns…why do that at this time of year to begin with, yet I see it all the time.
  • Stop washing your car! There are a myriad of small steps that everyone can take to preserve and conserve this precious resource that we all take for granted.
  • Last and not least, spread the word. People who are not suffering or who are not directly impacted are not going to be concerned. I am as guilty of this as anyone and I should have known better. Look at pictures of the local water systems or better yet take a drive by the Farmington River and look at its levels. It’s shocking.

We are lucky and blessed to live in the Northeast and water, for the most part, has always been in plentiful supply. How times have changed!

Regards, David Donaldson, Jr.
FRWA Board President

FRWA to Receive $140,000 Clean Water Act Settlement

FRWA will receive a $140,000 Clean Water Act settlement from Glastonbury Company  Connecticut Galvanizing.  The company was found to be polluting Salmon and Hubbard Brooks with untreated stormwater containing heavy metals including zinc, copper and lead.  For more about the Company and the settlement read this article from NPR:

For Violating Clean Water Act, Glastonbury Company Forced to Pay Thousands

Canton Town Garage Comments

Many of our members in Canton have expressed concern over the possibility that the Canton Town Garage, long slated for removal from the edge of the Farmington River, may instead be re-built on its present site.  The question of re-locating the garage will be on a referendum this November.

FRWA has consistently encouraged re-building the garage at some new location away from the riverbank.   Some of our previous comments on this topic are provided below.

Op-Ed Comments from FRWA on the Referendum Concerning the Canton Town Garage,  10/7/16:

The argument for re-building the Canton town garage on a mound at its existing location goes something like this:  No other site is presently available, affordable, and acceptable; using the current site is the cheapest alternative, it’s technically feasible, and conforms to the letter (at least) of regulations about building on floodplains;  the garage staff should have a better facility; and not least, people are tired of this issue, and it could be resolved with a referendum vote in November.

But consider.  This idea still opposes the town’s own 2014-2024 Plan of Conservation and Development and the Upper Mill Pond Master Plan.  Both documents were generated in a well-regulated process of review, public comment, and approval.  Along the way, people had time to analyze, reflect, and decide what’s most desirable for the long term.  They clearly intended removal of the garage from the riverbank, for a variety of good reasons that have been articulated already by both town officials and citizens.  Finding a new location for the garage aligns with the town’s plans.  It does not come from some extreme or fringe-element agenda.

The Farmington River Watershed Association salutes Canton’s long-standing intent to promote the river’s health, scenic quality, economic value, and accessibility, as shown in its planning documents and many day-to-day actions.  The upcoming referendum will test Canton’s determination to follow through on the original, well-considered plan to re-locate the garage.  The vote will give Canton residents their opportunity to avoid a re-build on-site, and say instead, “Don’t give up!”  

Excerpts from a letter to the Canton Board of Finance, 8/15/16:

…We applaud the town’s long-running and diligent effort to find a way to get the town garage off the riverbank.  We also understand the town’s frustration, after several attempts to re-locate the garage have failed.  Under the circumstances, it’s tempting to choose a simple and relatively low-cost proposal that could be resolved soon in a referendum.   But we encourage a larger and longer-term perspective rather than just getting this done.   A protected, healthy river is not only a valuable natural resource, it’s a huge economic asset that should not be squandered.

Many town residents have already articulated strong arguments against keeping the garage at its present riverbank site, regardless of site design.   We agree that from a public safety point of view, it’s unwise to site a vital town facility where it’s subject to inaccessibility in conditions of high water or flood.  Also, we urge you to weigh the value of making Canton’s town waterfront a focal point for recreation, at the same time you weigh the relative costs of siting the garage in various places.  Public pressure to access the river is growing rapidly.  In the past few years, we have seen it expand to the point where state-owned access points and private property access points are becoming crowded.  Can this problem be turned into an opportunity for Canton?   Other towns along the river… are actively pursuing projects that will bring more people to the river’s edge—explicitly for purposes of economic development.

…  Converting the town garage site to a park-like water access point would solve the problem of keeping garage vehicles and chemicals next to the river… at the same time, it would enhance the town’s recreational amenities for both visitors and residents….  We strongly encourage the town to stand by its original enlightened objective of getting the town garage off the river altogether.

FRWA Annual Meeting & Forum, November 15, 5:30-7:30 pm

FRWA Annual Meeting & Forum
Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 5:30-7:30 PM
Simsbury Free Library, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT

What a year!  Join us for a Forum with staff and guests to review and discuss river topics in our valley-including drought, state water supply planning, and FRWA’s projects.  Forum guests include:

Betsey Wingfield: Water Protection and Land Reuse Bureau Chief, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Margaret Miner: Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
David Radka: Director of Water Resources and Planning, The Connecticut Water Company
Virginia DeLima: Chair, Science and Technical Committee for Water Planning Council Steering Committee
John Hampton: State Representative and Author of Water Planning Bill

$15 per person—includes drinks and appetizers
Limited Seating— Please reserve by Nov.  11
Call or email Aimee at (860) 658-4442 ext ‘201’  apetras@frwa.organnualmeetinquilt

 

The Farmington River Quilt Project Viewing and Reception

A tour de force of fabric art— on display for a limited time!

Sunday, November 13, 2016, 3:00—5:00 PM
Squires Tavern, 100 River Road
Barkhamsted, CT

Enjoy this 50-foot-long portrait of the Farmington River’s Wild & Scenic West Branch. Two years in the making, it’s 25 stunning individual works by 24 quilters, some nationally renowned, led by Winchester quilter MaryPat Leger!

Meet quilters, enjoy refreshments, & tour the historic Squires Tavern.

Call or email Aimee at (860) 658-4442 ext ‘201’  apetras@frwa.org with any questions.

(No charge, donations welcome!)annualmeetinquilt

 

Invitation to Participate in Connecticut’s State Water Plan

Come share your voice in the early stages of developing Connecticut’s State Water Plan at any one of three public meetings in October.  The ongoing drought reminds us why responsible and collaborative stewardship of our water resources is so important.  The State Water Plan will provide the framework for managing Connecticut’s water into the future, and help balance the way it meets all of our needs as new climate trends emerge and new needs develop.  The Plan will address the quality and quantity of water for drinking, ecology, recreation, industry, agriculture, energy, and wastewater assimilation.  These public meetings will provide a forum to learn about the planning process, the goals of the plan, and future water management strategies that will be evaluated.  They will also provide the public with opportunities to engage in dialogue with state officials and project consultants, ask questions, and discuss issues.  The first set of meetings will be held on consecutive days in October 2016, in three different areas of the state.  The content of these first three meetings will be the same each day in order to spread awareness and encourage broad statewide engagement.  There will be three additional public meetings in the next phase of the project, during the winter and spring of 2017, sequenced in parallel with a progressive series of workshops with project stakeholders.

 The first three meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

 Tuesday, October 25:  6:00 – 8:00 PM Southeastern CT Council of Governments, 5 Connecticut Avenue, Norwich, CT.

Wednesday, October 26:  1:00 – 3:00 PM Hearing Room 1 at PURA, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT.

Thursday, October 27:  6:00 – 8:00 PM Room 205 of the Southbury Town Hall, 501 Main Street South, Southbury, CT.

Want a Greener Lawn? Natural Lawn Care Workshop – Oct 5

Want a Greener Lawn? Attend our Suffield Natural Lawn Care Workshop
October 5, 6-8 PM, Kent Memorial Library, Suffield, CT

Are you interested in learning new ways to keep your lawn and garden looking great naturally?  This workshop is for you!

Fall is the best time to focus on reseeding and aeration. We will dive in to these issue as well as go over common lawn weeds and what they indicate about your lawn conditions and soil nutrients. Bring any recent soil test results or get a head start on this class and get one submitted before the class begins at the UConn Soil testing lab.  Join Aimee Petras, Education & Outreach Coordinator in this fun and educational workshop that teaches you ways to get your lawn in shape without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  Attend this important workshop and learn tips for mowing, seeding, re-seeding, watering and ways to manage common weeds and pests that can complicate natural lawn care all year long. Program provided for FREE through Suffield Parks and Rec. Registration required.