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Tim Purinton

Tim Purinton

Acting Director, Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration

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Volunteer collecting river data

Every Tuesday at 6:00 am Shep Evans of Stockbridge dons his winter cap and woolen mittens and heads out to Larrywaug Brook in the Berkshires to read a stream gauge. In Sharon, Paul Lauenstein pulls on his rubber boots each week to do the same and estimates that he has walked more than 2,500 miles gathering over 3,000 stream gauge readings during the past two years.

Paul and Shep are part of a statewide volunteer group that routinely gets outside to record stream flow, which is part of an effort to gauge the health of streams not monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey. Stream flow data helps us at the Division of Ecological Restoration develop restoration plans for flow stressed rivers – rivers that are susceptible to going dry or flooding when they shouldn’t, disrupting the natural ecology of the stream.

Gauging river flow over seasons and years gives volunteers a unique perspective of a river, a sense of the natural rhythms and a deeper understanding of the importance of moving water (and having enough!). According to Paul, it's like having your finger on the pulse of Mother Nature.

Early in Shep’s volunteer career, he discovered that a nearby development was discharging a large amount of sediment into Beartown Brook, a brook trout stream dependent on enough cold, clean water to support an entire food chain. Click here to find out more about how Shep worked with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to get this problem fixed

Paul’s work with town committees led to water conservation programs that are saving over 100 million gallons of water annually, reducing stress on Beaver Brook and Billings Brook. The town’s water supply wells are adjacent to the brooks.

If you’re interested in being a part of this outdoor volunteer effort, contact the Division of Ecological Restoration at (617) 626-1540.

Click here to view the data collected by Shep, Paul and other river stewards as well as photos and other information about the Division of Ecological Restoration’s streamflow restoration projects.

Volunteer collecting river data

PHOTOS: Volunteer Jo Carey (above) wearing a red mitten at Larrywaug Brook in Stockbridge. Volunteers (left to right) Paul Lauenstein, Warren Kimball, Roy Socolow, and Freddie Gillespie at the Wading River in Norton. Shep Evans (far left) is pictured in a red hat at Larrywaug Brook in Stockbridge.

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