Hilltown Families


When I started writing this column in 2011, I did so hoping to inspire readers to “make the world of rivers bigger than the world of pavement inside of you!” Rivers are all around us, but they don’t form as much a part of ourselves as roads do. Close your eyes again: can you see a river? How far can you follow it? Does it lead anywhere?

Freshwater Sponges: A Most Ancient and Wonderful River Friend

Stocking a river with fish life sounds like a good thing, right? While it can be an excellent learning opportunity when working as a volunteer to stock rivers, in “The Ripple” this month, Kurt brings up a serious river-life issue that emerge when we combine river mismanagement with the stocking of factory-raised trout. These nonnative trout press heavily on the natural evolution and breeding of the native trout- and that strains our river-life and ecology. Pushed to the brink, this is a serious issue… but there is hope for the natural restoration of native trout through proper management and education! Read on to learn more and to find how your family can learn more about our rivers by helping out.

The great thaw is coming! With the thaw means migrating fish will start to return to our rivers too. “The Ripple” is always an enthralling read with a new installment will make you smell Spring, and think deeper about our rivers and waterways.

Outdoor recreation should give us the opportunity to recreate ourselves. “The Ripple: Stories About Western MA Rivers” this month suggests how our rivers are the place we can go to get a new sense of ourselves.

You will be counting the zeros…so look at it this way: the sea lampreys have been around since BEFORE there was an Atlantic Ocean! Survival is an amazing concept because it requires a lot of moving parts to move in synch. This month in “The Ripple: Stories About Western MA Rivers,” read Kurt’s appreciative piece about this enduring and crafty species.

Sometimes It happens that you have to get your feet wet to REALLY experience nature. The Westfield River Dead Branch State Forest preserves one of the more lively ecosystems, and is one of those places that could sort the fair-weather nature walkers from the more hardcore nature explorers! It provides the prize of a dry boulder in a swampy storm at the end of a slow but fulfilling nature walk (or waddle!)

The wetlands are amazing with their multi-service mandate. It’s a home to so many species, it takes the quickness out of our step so we can regard and absorb the many movements of this wonderful reserve, and it is a sponge that heads off flooding. Read on in “The Ripple” this month as Kurt offers many excellent reasons why you should visit, and say ‘thank you’ to the wetlands for keeping those floods at bay!

Samuel Beckett spoke of the river Seine: “How in joyous eddies its two arms conflowed and flowed united on.” But “The Ripple” brings us to Western MA waterways and invites us to lose ourselves in the flow, through tubing for instance. Western Massachusetts is so lucky to have so many sparking streams spread wonder and intrigue through our very own communities. Explore? Yes please.

This month in “The Ripple: Stories About Western MA Rivers,” Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Kurt Heidinger, writes about river access .Check out his 5 pointers on how to river walk, preventing a wipe out due to slippery rocks and strong currents…

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