This page is a bit dated, however we leave it up as a reminder of how valuable this program and these people are to us and our rivers.

 

Thanks to all who wrote in support of Riverways.

Funding has been restored for 2004.

Good Job!

Help restore funding for the Massachusetts Riverways Program.

Massachusetts Riverways Program has not been funded in the 2004 state budget. The Ma Riverways program is made up of the River Restore Program , Urban Rivers Program and the Adopt a Stream Program. This whole program costs MA taxpayers about 360 K a year the rest of their budget comes from non state grants.

The Riverways Program provides an invaluable service for any individual or group with an interest in the health and diversity of our rivers. Much of their mission is to provide information and guidance to citizens who have an interest in our rivers and streams. From the regulatory maze's of sewer and stormwater discharges to the rather contentious process of dam removal.

Below is the letter of support we wrote in favor of funding this fine program. Please do likewise. We have provided the names and contact info below. Please voice your support to them as well as to your local congressional delegation.

 

Below is our letter of support for Riverways

April 3, 2003

I would like to put in a good word for the Ma Riverways Program. It is my understanding that this program is not yet funded for the upcoming year.

As a private citizen interested in river restoration and preservation I have had an opportunity to work with representatives of the Adopt A Stream, River Restore and Urban Rivers Program over the past several years. If not for their efforts many of mine would have ended as frustrating failures. From dam removal efforts to public awareness and involvement issues to gross and blatant pollution of the rivers in my watershed. Riverways has been my bridge between the often confusing regulatory environment and the to often abused and neglected environment of our rivers. The value of this service should not be overlooked in upcoming budget decisions. An educated and active public, involved in the environmental arena can in the end save more tax dollars than is spent on the Riverways Program.

Through the Riverways Program citizens and citizen groups learn to work in partnership with various state regulatory and enforcement agencies. In my case it has allowed me to direct my questions and efforts to the proper agencies and people within those agencies. This in turn saves both my time and theirs. The regulatory and enforcement agencies time is money, and the public, well educated through the Riverways Program, saves their time and our tax dollars.

We also must not over look the amount of money that Riverways brings into our state by making the public aware of and assisting us in applying for federal and non profit grants. These monies are very significant and impact our quality of life in both urban and rural communities.

More so than anything else itís the people within Riverways that make it such a special and worthy program. They are simply the best!

August 2002, on a hot Sunday afternoon Cindy Delpapa and Margaret Kearns of the Urban Rivers Program met my brother and I on the Salisbury Plain River above the City of Brocktonís Advanced Waste Water Treatment Plant. I am quite certain that they could have found other things to do that afternoon, but they didnít. Instead they came with me on a kayak trip down a horribly degraded river of effluent, a river that all others have turned their backs on.

Over the past couple years Karen Pelto of the River Restore Program has attended countless public hearings regarding the Carver Cotton Gin Dam on the Satucket River in East Bridgewater. These meetings are often contentious, redundant and incredibly frustrating. Many of these meetings are in the evening. Karen comes to these meetings. Sometimes she is visibly tired from traveling around the state all day long dealing with similar issues. Despite this Karenís natural caring and honesty have a way of infecting those around her. Bringing reason to a meeting that would otherwise be unreasonable.

The same is true for Amy Singler of the Adopt A Stream Program. If it were not for Amyís dedication to our rivers and to us as individuals. The Weweantic Stream Team, organized through the Adopt a Stream Program would have withered on the vine a long time ago.

Itís very rare when a public program and more importantly public employees can inspire the public. This program and these folks do just that, please do not burn our bridge, fund Riverways.

 

The following is my brothers letter in support of Riverways

    (He's a lot smatter than mee)

 

Dear Mr. Pritchard,


My name is Douglas Watts. I am a native of North Easton, Massachusetts and now live in Augusta, Maine. I am writing to you because I am deeply troubled that all state funding for the Mass. Riverways program in 2004 is being cut.

I would like to tell you why.

During my childhood near Brockton, most of the rivers near my home were severely polluted. My father took us fishing to those places that were still somewhat clean. The Taunton River, the largest river near our home, was so polluted that nobody in their right mind would go near it, never mind put a canoe it. The next largest river, the Matfield River in Brockton and Bridgewater, was filled with human fecal matter. People living along the river on Matfield Street, where my mother grew up, had to close their windows in the summer because the stench of feces in the river made them sick to their stomachs.
 

When I was 10 years old, in 1974, I spent many afternoons after school pulling used colostomy bags out of the brook near my house, Queset Brook. At that same time I remember going to my favorite pond with my brother and cousins and seeing a strange-colored oil pouring into the pond from a pipe from a nearby factory. Thankfully, the health officer for Easton, the late Mrs. Mary Connolly, listened to us kids as we presented her with a mason jar filled with oily gunk from the pipe. She had the oily gunk tested. Soon thereafter, the discharge of gunk into the pond mysteriously stopped. Mrs. Connolly's encouragement and assistance convinced my brother and I to keep working to protect the brooks near our house where we fished, swam, caught frogs and turtles and learned to treasure the natural beauty in our little corner of southeastern Massachusetts.

Over the years I have read many local town histories that tell me of how incredibly productive and beautiful the rivers of southeastern Massachusetts once were. Today, in 2003,  many of these same places are nothing more than drainage ditches, filled with trash, used diapers and poisonous run-off from shopping center parking lots built along their banks. These streams, which once abounded with native brook trout and alewives and shad, have become completely abused and forgotten. But if you get down in the water and move some of the McDonald's bags and plastic oil bottles, you will find a few darters and crayfish and freshwater mussels still struggling to survive amidst the refuse and toxic waste we continue to dump onto their homes.

I believe the Riverways program is one of the most successful efforts in the United States to encourage and assist ordinary people to bring their local rivers and brooks back from being trash dumps into the healthy and beautiful places they used to be. Ninety percent of the effort in restoring our rivers comes from volunteers. Without the encouragement, guidance and professional assistance from the Riverways program, most of these volunteer efforts will quickly die because volunteers get the sense that nobody but them, and nobody in State government, could care less if the brook near their home continues to be a disgusting, vile dumping ground.

I cannot think of any state program so adept at leveraging enormous amounts of volunteer effort for so little state money as the Riverways program. When volunteers such as myself have a friendly and helpful person in state government to guide them and offer advice, great things can be done and have been done. When that person in state government is gone, the status quo rears its ugly head and people once again turn their backs on the rivers and brooks in their backyard because it seems that nobody else really cares.

The History of Taunton contains an account from the 1600s written by Mr. William Briggs, Jr. of Taunton. Mr. Briggs expresses his sadness and outrage at the destruction of the alewife runs of the Mill River in Taunton. Mr. Briggs says:

"Strange that any of mankind should slight & despise such a noble and bountiful gift of Heaven as this is of the plenty of this sort of fish afforded to Americans for their support; nay, 'tis very sinful that instead of rendering thanks to our Maker and Preserver for the good gift of his Providence for our support, that wee should despise them."

It is very sad that in 2003 -- 350 years after the above words were written -- Mill River in Taunton is a trash-ridden disgrace, alewives still cannot go up the brook to their ancestral spawning grounds, and the children of Taunton and Norton and Easton still cannot see them and catch them with their hands.

The Riverways program is an extremely modest effort to help volunteers undo the massive damage inflicted on our local rivers and brooks over the past three centuries. The staff of the Riverways program has pulled off the incredible -- energizing everyday citizens across Massachusetts to use their own elbow grease and ingenuity to bring life back to rivers that "conventional wisdom" has long left for dead. This program deserves to live.

I hope you will carefully consider the information in this letter and share it with others who may be willing to speak on behalf of the Riverways program.

Sincerely,


Douglas H. Watts
38-C Northern Avenue
Augusta, Maine 04330