Working on the Chickley River. December 9, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
Tags: chickley river, ET&L, excavator, Hawley MA, restoration, tropical storm Irene
The Chickley river in Hawley took a massive hit from Tropical Storm Irene over a year ago, and has since been cleared of storm debris and redirected into a channel which doesn’t threaten Route 8A.
But the clearing left the river looking more like a canal than a wild river; Hawley’s head of public works had all obstructions removed, and deepened and straightened the channel. Locals protested, but up here in the Hilltowns, there are plenty of people in positions of power who don’t give a crap about girly stuff like fish habitat and letting Nature be Nature.
Thankfully, several State agencies stepped in and imposed a program of re-naturalizing the river, rebuilding it to where it might not only return to being a viable hatchery for native species, but might also stand a chance of surviving future floods.
Here, an ET&L excavator is replacing boulders previously removed from the riverbed and adding contours to the banks to slow seasonal run-off:
The banks are still a mess, and I expect the raw spots to be colonized by fast-growing invasives like Japanese knot-weed, which was taking hold here before the flood and will likely take advantage of the open space afforded it.
But at least there will be trout habitat, and something in the channel to slow the Spring floods:
This work is nearing its end, and the sad turbidity of the worked-in water will give way to the clarity of winter, only to be followed by Spring’s reworking of what Man has done.
I feel bad for the people of Hawley, many of whom objected to the inappropriate channelization of the river, and all of whom (and their children and grandchildren) will be paying for the bond needed to fix this avoidable mess.