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THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE
– Friday, April 21, 2017
Page 12
of Massachusetts, the Saugus
Open Space Committee, City of
Lynn’s Waterfront Vulnerability
and Resiliency Working Group,
Metro Boston Climate Adapta-
tionAdvisory CommitteeMem-
ber and Boston Harbor Habitat
Coalition.
At the Saugus River Water-
shed Council, I have been lucky
enough to work in partnership
with some amazing people
and other organizations with
like-minded missions. These
groups include Saugus Action
Volunteers for theEnvironment,
Friends of Lake Quannapowitt,
Friends of Lynn Woods, Bike to
the Sea, Friends of Breakheart
Reservation, local Conservation
Commissions, the National Park
Service at Saugus Iron Works
and the staff at Breakheart Res-
ervation in Saugus.
As a foundingmember of the
Alliance for Health and Environ-
ment, I also regularly work with
public officials, such as State
Representative RoseLee Vin-
centandSaugusBoardofSelect-
men Chairperson Debra Panet-
ta, as well as regional environ-
mental organizations, such as
Conservation Law Foundation,
MASSPIRG, CleanWater Action,
and the Toxics Action Center, to
increase awareness about envi-
ronmental andpublichealth im-
pacts related to waste incinera-
tion emissions and ash.
Q:
Let’s talk about your in-
volvement with the Saugus Riv-
erWatershedCouncil. Howlong
have you been involved with
that organization? How long as
executive director?
A:
I have been working as Ex-
ecutive Director of the Saugus
River Watershed Council since
2000.
Q:
Briefly, describe how the
council has evolved over the
years and some of the major
projects it focuses on, its mis-
sion.
A:
The Saugus River Water-
shed Council was founded in
1991 to protect and restore the
natural resources of the Saugus
Riverwatershed.Thewatershed
encompasses all of Saugus and
portions of the following com-
munities: Revere, Lynn, Wake-
field, Lynnfield, Stoneham, Mel-
rose, Malden, Everett, Reading
andPeabody. Someof theCoun-
cil’s initial priorities and focus ar-
eas continue to be important
today. Promoting environmen-
tal stewardship through edu-
cation, tracking environmental
conditions in thewatershed, co-
ordinating volunteer cleanups,
and commenting on proposed
development to ensure protec-
tionof environmental resources
have been consistent priorities
since the Council was founded.
More recently, we expand-
ed our environmental protec-
tion efforts to encompass pro-
moting watershed protection
in a changing climate. Rising
seas, coastal storm surge, in-
creasing frequency and intensi-
tyof rainfall events,warmer tem-
peratures and less predictable
weather patterns all havean im-
pactonwatershedresources.To-
getherwithwatershedcommu-
nities, environmental agencies
and other nonprofit organiza-
tions, we are working to devel-
op climate adaptation andmiti-
gationstrategies toprotecthab-
itat, water quality and valuable
coastal resources for the future.
For more information about
the Saugus River Watershed
Council, go to
www.saugusriv-
er.org
and consider adding your
nametoouremail newsletter list
for updates about events and
volunteer opportunities.
Q:
What would you consid-
er the five biggest accomplish-
mentsduring the timeyouhave
been involved with Saugus Riv-
erWatershed Council?
A:
1. Education: During the
past 15 years, the Saugus River
Watershed Council has provid-
ed innovative watershed edu-
cation programs to over 10,000
students from schools in our 11
watershedcommunities.Thanks
to support from local business-
es, individuals and foundations,
students have explored the riv-
er and marshes while learn-
ing about their role in becom-
ing environmental stewards for
the future.
2. Habitat Restoration: The
Council has played an impor-
tant role inpartneringwithenvi-
ronmental consulting firms, en-
vironmental agencies and com-
munities topromote restoration
of habitat throughout the wa-
tershed. Our best successes in-
clude partnering with the Divi-
sionofMarineFisheries todevel-
op and install the first eel ramp
of its kind to promote passage
of Americaneelsover adamup-
stream in the river; working in
partnership with the National
Park Service to promote a turn-
ing basin project that balanced
restoring a historic river land-
scape with protecting key fish
spawninghabitat andremoving
several acresof invasivewetland
plants; and partnering with the
Massachusetts Department of
Conservation and Recreation to
successfullyadvocate for remov-
al of thousandsof gallonsof fuel
oil fromanundergroundstorage
sitealongthe river thatwas then
transformed intoapassivepark.
3. Addressing Illegal Dump-
ing:When I first startedworking
at the Saugus River Watershed
Council, we often achieved the
sadrecognitionof removingthe
largest amount in tons of debris
statewide during cleanup proj-
ects. Thanks to expanded local
and state efforts to prevent ille-
gal dumping and restorewater-
shednatural areas, thisproblem
is much less significant than in
the past, a sign of increased ap-
preciation for keeping the local
environment clean.
4. Protecting Watershed Re-
sources in a Changing Climate:
The Council has taken an early,
proactive approach to working
with our watershed communi-
ties to raise awareness and take
action to mitigate and respond
to the real challenges of pro-
tecting watershed resources in
a changing climate. Whether
workingwith theCity of Lynn to
help develop a Waterfront Vul-
nerability and Resiliency Study,
developing a climate change
curriculum for local students
or partnering with the National
Park Service to create a Climate
Adaptation Plan for protecting
waterfront resources, we antici-
pate that this aspect of ourwork
will continue to increase in im-
portance into the future.
5. Providing a Voice for the
River: When I ask others what
our biggest accomplishment is,
they always say that our role as
environmental advocates has
been crucial to protecting nat-
ural resources andpublichealth
throughout the watershed. We
takeanactive role inresponding
toproposeddevelopment proj-
ects and potential environmen-
tal threats. Whether attending
public hearings or submitting
written comments through the
environmental permitting pro-
cess, we strive to balance envi-
ronmental protection of valu-
ablevegetatedbuffers,wetlands
and natural areas with positive
sustainabledevelopment in the
watershed.
Q:
What one thing are you
most proud of as you look back
at the council’s work?
A:
As I look back overmy time
with the Saugus River Water-
shed Council, I’m most proud
of our achievements in bring-
ing people back to the river.
Perhaps this is because I know
that people have to care about
the resource before they will be
motivated to protect it. I can tell
you that there is no shortage
of great people in Saugus and
the rest of the watershed look-
ing for opportunities to enjoy
and protect the Saugus River
and all of the other open spac-
es andparks. One ofmy favorite
events that we hosted over the
years was our Saugus River pic-
nic at the Iron Works that drew
hundreds of families to the riv-
er, where they enjoyed a picnic
dinner, nature activities and live
music amid the scenic natural
beauty of the Saugus River. No
fundraising, nocontentiouspol-
icy issues, nobattling to remove
rustedappliances fromthe river-
bed – just pure fun and enjoy-
ment of the watershed!
Q:
How old is the organiza-
tion?
A:
SRWCwas founded in1991.
Q:
Aswe lookuponEarthDay,
what are the major challenges
facing theTown of Saugus right
nowfromanenvironmentalper-
spective?
A:
In some ways, Saugus is at
a crossroads. There is currently
much interest in reinvigorating
the waterfront with enhanced
public access and amenities. At
the same time, however, more
work still needs to be done to
continue improvingwaterquali-
tyconditions in the river anden-
sure that waterfront economic
and natural resources are pro-
ASKS
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ASKS
| SEE PAGE 13