Commissioner, Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
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Edward M. Lambert Jr.
Commissioner, Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR)
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Monday, April 11th began with a long, early morning car ride to Quabbin Reservation Gate 8 in Pelham for a 9:30 a.m. appointment with about 1,200 large rainbow trout and scores of Shutesbury Elementary School kids in grades Kindergarten through 2. Clearly, this was going to be a lot more fun than the usual meetings and office work that consume our days in Boston, and the kids were extremely excited about what was about to happen.
We began by talking with the kids about the importance of the reservoir as a water supply, which is a wildlife habitat and home to the fish we were about to release. We also asked them about what outdoor activities they enjoy, and encouraged them to engage in pursuits such as fishing, hiking, bird watching, and camping as ways to connect with nature and gain a better understanding and appreciation for the environment.
But this was a young group and we wanted to get to the main event quickly. Soon the skilled staff from the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) were netting the fish out of the back of the stocking truck and directing the kids in the finer points of safely stocking fish. We passed out five gallon buckets containing some water and several beautiful rainbow trout, and all the kids helped us stock the fish at the water’s edge. Some of us got splashed, others got wet feet, but everyone had a very good time.
The stocking program is providing about 530,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout into more than 500 rivers, lakes, ponds and streams all across the Commonwealth this spring. These fish are greatly sought after by the Commonwealth’s licensed anglers, whose license fees pay for the cost of growing and stocking the fish.
The DCR manages about 80,000 acres of land and water at the Quabbin Reservation, principally to protect a vital source of clean drinking water for 2.2 million people in the Commonwealth, but also for wildlife, fisheries, and recreation. The Quabbin Reservoir supports a vast assortment of warm and cold water fish species including smallmouth and largemouth bass, landlocked salmon, lake trout, white perch, yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, golden shiners, black crappie, rainbow smelt and bullheads. It is one of the Commonwealth’s premier fishing destinations and an important wildlife habitat for many species including bald eagles, loons, bobcat, and many others.
With Earth Day this week, this event and others like it are a great way to engage and educate young people about conservation and wildlife. We encourage adults as well to get out with or without kids to enjoy what Massachusetts parks, wildlife management areas, and outdoor activities have to offer in terms of recreation, exercise, and environmental education.
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