Winter 2021 —
Interested the North Branch Park River? Link to this presentation delivered to the Friends of Conte National Wildlife Refuge (11/17/2020), or the presentation delivered to the Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter in September (09/17/2020). Send us your ideas about conservation and revitalization of the North Branch Park River for the national celebration of Hartford native, Fredrick Law Olmsted, in 2022.
Zoom presentations about Park Watershed work are being scheduled with community organizations and regional non-profits. Projects include our work with the New England Landscape Futures project, the Urban Bird Treaty, lessons learned from recent green infrastructure projects, as well as compelling reasons to conserve and revitalize the North Branch Park River, along with other Park River tributaries.
Note that community engagement is vital to a variety of our projects. Feel welcome to volunteer for rain garden maintenance (weeding); organizational development; updating Hartford’s urban Bird Agenda; updating organizational outreach materials (such as this website); distribution of “Learning How to Conserve and Revitalize the North Branch Park River,” and environmental education report that describes opportunities for advancing community connection to nature in the city.
Contact Mary if you are interested in scheduling a presentation or volunteering.
recent activities, spring 2020:
- On the Wing: The Increased Popularity of Birdwatching, WAMU radio
conversation with Dr. Drew Lanham, a professor at Clemson University and the author of “Birding While Black“.
- National Audubon Society Livestream 7pm 06/04
May 9-17th Park Watershed and City of Hartford celebrate World Migratory Bird Day, by sharing local, regional and international activities and birding references online as well as the Park Watershed Facebook page. Our local and regional friends include Keney Park Sustainability Project, Friends of Keney Park, and Hartford Audubon Society. Learn fun ways that birds connect us from David Allen Sibley and Jennifer Ackerman.
On Friday, May 15, 2020, Park Watershed will briefly summarize the New England Landscape Futures project work at the Sustainable CT “Zoom Coffee Hour” which is held 10am – 11am. Advance registration is required: https://sustainablect.org
In March, US Fish & Wildlife Service recognized Hartford as an active participant in the Urban Bird Treaty program. Park Watershed and the City will update Hartford’s ‘Bird Agenda’ with respect to FWS Urban Bird Treaty Program Guidebook (V.3). The City of Hartford was the 8th US Fish & Wildlife Service Urban Bird Treaty city designated. There are now thirty Urban Bird Treaty cities, including Springfield, MA and New Haven, CT. To learn more, see the Urban Bird Treaty Story Map.
Meanwhile Park Watershed, and the North Branch Conservation Committee of the West End Civic Association are asking the City of Hartford to include one page stating the need for comprehensive environmental planning in its 10-year Plan of Conservation & Development. We recommend you state your interest in conservation and revitalization of the North Branch, as well as other landscapes throughout the city. To review the draft Plan of Conservation & Development, see Hartford2035.org
The North Branch Park River flows through the West End, Asylum Hill and Blue Hills neighborhoods of Hartford, as well as the Sunny Reach neighborhood of West Hartford. 68% of the North Branch Park River drainage basin flows from Bloomfield.
Park Watershed has recently completed an Environmental Education Report: Learning How to Conserve and Revitalize the North Branch Park River.
Contact us to schedule a meeting or presentation of our findings.
The North Branch Park River is a local, measurable approach to addressing the global climate crisis. Citizens and elected officials can choose to protect, revitalize regenerative local natural resources that surround neighborhood waterways. Climate activist Greta Thunberg succinctly summarizes this critical message in this brief video:
Give online via Paypal
for conservation and revitalization of local environments.
past events – Summer 2018
Thanks to Hartford Art School for hosting
Connecting Currents: A Celebration of Our Rivers
on Saturday, June 23, 2018
A University of Hartford, Masters of Fine Arts Nomad 9 program:
10 am: Welcome, at the Hartford Art School
10:30 am: Diverse Perspectives of a Shared Vision
Keynote Speaker Mary Rickel Pelletier of Park Watershed
11:30 am : Incredible Journey, Invertebrates, Amazing Water
CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
2 pm – 4 pm: Foraging Wild Plants Along the North Park River
A Workshop with Benjamin Hao
The MFA Thesis Exhibition is on view from June 15 through June 23 in the Joseloff Gallery at the Hartford Art School. The community is invited to enjoy light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres at a celebratory Artist Reception from 4:30 to 6pm on June 23 in the Joseloff Gallery at the Hartford Art School.
During the Real Art Ways Creative Cocktail Hour from 6 to 9pm on June 21, the exhibit PRTK: Park River Tool Kit will showcase the students’ public art project, created with faculty artist Mary Mattingly.
Park Watershed on Facebook for listings of current events and issues. Park Watershed is currently updating leadership and organizational strategic planning – and a Water Festival to highlight unique conditions along the North Branch Park River.
We continue to recommend and work towards integrative planning for urban-suburban stream corridors throughout the watershed, especially the North Branch Park River. Integrative planning addresses comprehensive conditions that include improving water quality, flood control, conservation and revitalization of urban forests and wetlands that provide critical habitat for wildlife and birds, removal of invasive species, frameworks of environmental education, and planning recommendations that identify safe, financially feasible public access to our waterways.
2018 is the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Park Watershed is collaborating with area partners to highlight why birds matter, and extend inter-disciplinary research and project initiatives.
The final draft State Water Plan was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly for its consideration during the 2018 legislative session. However approval of the State Water Plan was stalled by claims of a controversy surrounding language that describes clean water is a public trust. The State Water Plan, a document that reflects good government process that included diverse stakeholders ought to be approved. To learn more about the approval process, see the summary provided by Rivers Alliance of Connecticut. To learn more about the plan, see Connecticut State Water Plan
past events 2017:
Park Watershed thanks the University of Hartford
for the 2016-2017 River Ambassadors Goal 2 partnership,
which generated educational resources, such as these videos on these topics:
Water Quality – with Alicea Charamut of Connecticut River Conservancy
Citizen Stewardship – with Eric Hammerling of Ct Forests & Parks Association
Area Watersheds – with Eileen Fielding of Farmington River Watershed Association
Art & Eco-Awareness – with Sherry Buckberrough, Chair UHartford Art History
+ Park River Toolkit
+ participation in 2016 and 2017 Source to Sea cleanup
and the April 6th River Day:
- Art, architecture, policy and science displays
about water and the North Branch Park River
- Birds of prey presentation
- Take away Art/Postcard writing
- conversations about how you can engage in environmental conservation
- large floor map of North Branch Park River
+ refreshing maple tree juice
- 12:15-1:15 Birds of prey from Audubon Sharon
- 2:00-2:30 – Discussion of Mary Miss’ North Branch floor map
- 3:00pm walk along the North Branch Park River ! rain or shine
River Ambassadors projects on display included river walks, public events, class projects, design studies, independent study, and inter-disciplinary research. The University of Hartford is the largest private land steward of the North Branch Park River. The River Ambassador program is an interdisciplinary partnership between Park Watershed and the University of Hartford.
In addition, Park Watershed continues implementation of the North Branch Park River Watershed-based plan. This includes working with a team of Seniors from UConn Environmental Engineering program who are preparing site specific recommendations for the repair of an erosion channel caused by stormwater runoff from three parking lots.
past events 2016:
Mary Miss: Public Spaces/Art/Sustainability
September 13, 12:15 p.m.
University of Hartford – Wilde Auditorium
In partnership with Park Watershed the University of Hartford presents Mary Miss, an internationally celebrated artist who rethinks public space in light of the needs of the natural world. Collaborating with planners, engineers, ecologists and public administrators, Miss breaks down barriers between sculpture, architecture, landscape design and installation art. Often concerned with issues of water resources, she creates new site-specific situations that emphasize the history, environment or ecology of places in cities throughout America and across the world.
Join us Thursday afternoon, June 2nd
Inspiring Action: Real Stories of Social Change
A Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Event:
3-4 PM Inspiration to Action Fair
Park Watershed with Hartford-area activists and organizations
4-5:30 PM Real Stories of Social Change
dialogue with Student Stowe Prize winners
Immanuel Congregational Church
10 Woodland Street, Hartford
At intersection of Woodland and Farmington Avenue, across from the Stowe Center
Park Watershed will be tabling at this a free public program that will precede the Student Stowe Prize Big Tent Jubilee. The Student Stowe Prize winners will join Hartford-area activists and organizations to share their passions and strategies for positive change.
Thanks to Elizabeth Park Conservancy, Sharon Audubon Birds, Hartford Audubon Society, Audubon CT and US Fish & Wildlife Service for a marvelous April 21st
Celebration of Connecticut’s Bird-friendly Cities + 100 years of the International Migratory Bird Treaty
at Elizabeth Park Pond House
NOTE: Long Term Regional Environmental Health Issues
- Public water sold at discount rates – Town of Bloomfield and The MDC have arranged for Niagra Bottling to receive $4.1 million dollar tax abatement as well as discount rates for industrial water and sewer services. Citizens are protesting financial incentives provided to Niagara, a private company located in California.
Take Action – sign the No Niagara petition
+ Learn More at Bloomfield Citizens.org Facebook page about the lack of public process surrounding approval of a 443,000 sq’ (10 acre) industrial building that replaces farmland to manufacture 2.6 million plastic bottles daily. During a drought emergency, Niagara can continue to bottle 1.8 million gallons of water, at discount rates, until reservoirs are depleted to 10% of capacity.
- Tilcon re-introduces proposal to expand mining on public forest that protects municipal drinking water. See current Rivers Alliance comments on Raised Bill 300.
See New York Times 2008 summary.
- Proposed Gas Pipelines through MDC Reservoir Property
The Houston, Texas energy company, Kinder Morgan, has filed a pipeline expansion project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The proposed “Northeast Energy Direct Project” (FERC Docket # PF14-22-000) will extensively expand capacity of existing gas pipelines, and connect pipeline routes from Marcellus Shale regions in Pennsylvania and upstate New York through New England to coastal ports. Kinder Morgan seeks FERC approval to expand an existing easement that travels through nearly 6 miles of MDC Reservoir property, which is Class I (closest to source) and Class II (also impacts source) land. If allowed by FERC, this pipeline will compromise Connecticut law that protects our drinking water. Pipeline construction, subsequent pipeline leaks, and routine pipeline cleaning will threaten the purity of our drinking water, as well as the natural environment that protects MDC Reservoirs. Contact elected officials to express your concern and request elected officials oppose the use of eminent domain to take private and public lands for pipeline construction. To learn more about this project, see description, and documents posted on Rivers Alliance of Connecticut website.
- South Branch Park River Flood Control System Maintenance Project
work along Trout Brook in West Hartford, Piper Brook in Newington and the
South Branch Park River in Hartford, see project information posted by
Ct Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Connecticut Water Planning Council: The Park River regional watershed overlaps the seven of the eight voting member towns of the MDC, which supplies clean drinking water to approximately 1/3 of Connecticut. Due to sprawling development, population growth has outpaced the sustainability of water supplies. The State of Ct has begun an extensive assessment of state water supply along with current and projected usage. The abundant supply of clean drinking water is key to the redevelopment of vibrant high-density communities within a fabric of healthy neighborhood parks, greenways and open spaces throughout the watershed. To learn more about the State Water Planning Council, see the Ct DEEP description, and updates from Rivers Alliance of Ct or review Agenda and Meeting Minutes.
- Meanwhile, we continue working on site specific issues with stakeholders in various areas of the watershed, including issues pertaining to Trout Brook, Bass Brook, Gully Brook, and the North Branch Park River. We are also gathering a citizen summary of conditions and concerns throughout the watershed. Contact us to share information about environmental issues (good and bad) in your neighborhood. If your group would like to learn more about urban-suburban stewardship, contact us to schedule a Park Watershed presentation.
ALSO – on-going federal and regional policy and planning issues:
- WATERS OF THE USA, remains an important, on-going local and national topic. Although the public comment period for the rule closed on November 14, 2014, the rule still needs to pass through the US House and Senate before becoming law. The rule will help to clarify the value of healthy water quality in upstream tributaries such as Trout Brook, Piper Brook, and Bass Brook that converge as the South Branch; and tributaries such as Wash Brook, Tumble Brook, Beamans Brook, and Filley Brook that converge into the North Branch of the Park River. The convergence of the North and South Branches, and Gully Brook form the Park River that flows into the navigable waters of the Connecticut River, which is the largest source of fresh water to the Long Island Sound.Learn more: Read the two page proposed definition of “Waters of the United States” by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Due to recent Supreme Court decisions, this clarification of the scope of waters protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act is now needed. For further information, see the US EPA website, Waters of the USA.
- Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge:
DRAFT Comprehensive Conservation Plan – comment period closed
Public Hearing: 6-9pm on November 12
at Sessions Woods WMA, 341 Milford Street (Route 69), Burlington, CT 06013
Or submit comments online by November 16. 2015
Federal Docket # FWS-R5-NWRS-2015-0036
See Conte Refuge CCP website
Site verification (for google searches)