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THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE
– Friday, April 21, 2017
Page 13
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tected frompotentially damag-
ing coastal storms and sea level
rise in the future. Another ongo-
ingchallenge for Saugus is strik-
ingabalancebetweendevelop-
ment pressures and the need to
protect limitednatural areasand
ensure that there is sufficient
capacity to handle wastewater
fromnewhousingandotherde-
velopment projects.
Q:
What about the DEP [De-
partment of Environmental Pro-
tection]? How would you rate
the job the agency is doing, as
far as protecting the environ-
ment? How about other state
and federal agencies?What kind
of job are they doing?
A:
One of the biggest chal-
lenges right now among state
agencies is lack of funding.
Many of the Commonwealth’s
environmental agencies, in-
cluding DEP, have faced bud-
get andstaffingcuts leavi gde-
partments with inadequate re-
sources toaddress environmen-
talmonitoringandenforcement
activities. Unfortunately, I antic-
ipate that pressure for the state
to take more responsibility for
environmental protection will
only increase as the US Environ-
mental ProtectionAgency faces
potentiallycripplingbudgetand
staffing reductions along with
rollbacks of environmental reg-
ulations under the current fed-
eral administration.
Q:
How would you rate the
stateof theenvironment inSau-
gus right now?
A:
I would rate the stateof the
environment as a“work inprog-
ress” with both highlights and
ongoing environmental chal-
lenges throughout Saugus and
the rest of the watershed. For
example, take a look at Shute
Brook. Despite having signif-
icant water quality problems
from storm water runoff, we
found that this small, somewhat
degraded brook had some of
the best rainbow smelt spawn-
inghabitat in thewatershed.We
nicknamed one segment of the
brook“the nursery”becausewe
found thousands of smelt eggs
in the river bed at one time. The
message here is that wherever
you look there are success sto-
ries worth celebrating, as well
as opportunities to continue
improving water quality, wild-
lifehabitat, recyclingefforts and
open spaces.
Q:
Has yourgrade for theenvi-
ronment goneupor down from
whenyoufirst got involvedwith
the Saugus River Watershed
Council?
A:
Environmental conditions
in the watershed and town
of Saugus have definitely im-
proved over the past 15 years.
During that time, shellfish beds
in the riverwere reopened (with
depuration) for the first time
in decades – a sign of impr v-
ing water quality conditions.
At the same time, our environ-
mental monitoring programs
have shown that the Saugus
River supports a wide range of
fish, including rainbow smelt,
perch, American eel, striped
bass and more. Another clear
sign of progress is the shift from
treating the river as a dumping
ground to focusing on oppor-
tunities to improve public ac-
cess through river-related pro-
grams andwaterfront improve-
ments. Last summer’s partner-
ship with the National Park Ser-
vice where our kayak trips were
fullybookeddemonstrated that
peoplenowsee the river as a re-
source to be enjoyed and pro-
tected.
Q:
Is this something that town
government – the town boards
–bear some responsibilitywith?
A:
Yes, local governments in
Saugus and the other water-
shed communities are integral
to protecting and restoring en-
vir nmental resources inthewa-
tershed. Saugus officials have
playedan important andproac-
tive role in pushing for sustain-
abledevelopment alongthe riv-
er, and protecting the Rumney
Marshes Area of Critical Envi-
ronmental Concern by passing
a series of bylaws to ensure en-
vironmentally sound manage-
ment andsitingof landfills inthe
town. The recent hiring of two
newplanning professionals has
enabled Saugus to work proac-
tively on sustainable develop-
ment projects, such as updat-
ing their Open Space Plan, and
securing funds for Saugus River
bridge upgrades and other in-
frastructure projects.
Q:
There have been some
very aggressive boards in local
government that have inter-
vened in the past on the envi-
ronment issues. So, areyouhap-
py with today’s town agencies
and boards?
A:
We are always happy to
work with local boards and
agencies in all of our watershed
communities. We don’t have to
agree on everything to make
significant progress towardpro-
tecting the environment over
time. That said, Saugus has very
proactive leadership andmem-
berson its volunteer boards and
committees right now when it
comes to protecting the envi-
ronment.
Q:
What is the council doing
for Earth Day?
A:
T celebrate Earth Day, e
are hosting a volunteer clean-
up, giving out an environmen-
tal leadership scholarship and
having a Spring Bulb fundrais-
er to support our environmen-
tal education programs.
Saugus River Watershed
Council is partnering with Bike
to the Sea and the Massachu-
setts Department of Conserva-
tionandRecreationtohostavol-
unteer cleanup inLynnandSau-
gus on Saturday, April 22, from
9:00a.m. tonoon.Volunteerswill
meetatMarshviewPark (located
across the street from O’Brien’s
andacross theriver fromSpud’s).
Together we will clean up the
park, remove debris fromalong
the Saugus River section of the
Northern Strand Trail and clean
upthenearbyriverbanks inLynn
and Saugus. All are welcome –
no RSVP needed.
We are now accepting appli-
cations for our 2017 Environ-
mental Leadership Scholarship.
One $500 scholarship will be
awarded to a graduating high
school senior who plans to pur-
sue environmental studies or
volunteerwork inthe future.The
applicationsareavailableonour
website andmust be submitted
by Friday, May 26th.
In celebration of Earth Day,
we’re hosting a Spring Bulb sale
to help raise funds for our envi-
ronmental educationprograms.
Fiftypercentof allproceeds from
the salewill go towardour envi-
ronmental ducation programs
– free to schools located within
the Saugus River watershed. A
beautiful selectionof plants and
colorful bulbs for spring plant-
ingandsummerblooms is avail-
able to view and purchase from
a link on our website.
Q:
Whoareyour (environmen-
tal) heroes?
A:
When I think aboutwho in-
spires me, the answer is simple.
ASKS
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ASKS
| SEE PAGE 15