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Westfield State University hosts panel from Westfield River Watershed Association

Westfield State University will host “Watershed Wanderings Through Time and Space: Westfield River Watershed Association, 65 years of service,” on Wednesday, February 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Parenzo Hall, Dever Stage, 577 Western Ave. in Westfield.

Four members of the Westfield River Watershed Association (WRWA) will offer perspectives on the watershed and the association committed to its stewardship, as part of the City of Westfield’s historical lecture series commemorating the city’s 350th  anniversary of its founding.

The panelists featured are Westfield State Assistant Professor of Geography, Planning and Sustainability Brian Conz, Ph.D.; Westfield State Associate Professor of Chemical & Physical Sciences Aaron Reyes, Ph.D.; Westfield State Visiting Lecturer of Biology Mark Damon, and Bill Rose.

Rose will speak about his experiences as an avid local recreational fly fisherman. He will address the type of fishing that takes place in the Westfield River, the changing conditions of the river and how this affects fishing as well as WRWA activities that support recreational fishing such as salmon stocking, fly fishing clinics, and the annual fish ladder open house. Rose worked at Curtis Universal Joint Company, in Springfield, Mass,, for 28 years. He has been a member of the WRWA for 14 years, including eight years as president.  

Damon will discuss WRWA activities, including river cleanups and the sampling of invertebrates in the river; how the diversity of invertebrates can be used as an indicator of overall ecosystem health; and a principle in riverine ecology called the River Continuum Concept that considers the health of the watershed. He holds a master’s degree in zoology from UMass Amherst.

Dr. Reyes will describe the geology through which the Westfield River flows and how that geology affects natural water chemistry, followed by a short description of results from a Westfield State student internship program. Dr. Reyes earned a Ph.D. in geochemistry from the University of California Santa Cruz. He has taught at Westfield State since 2010 and actively monitors the water quality of the Westfield River.

Dr. Conz will discuss the development and evolution of the Westfield River terraces, which are found in the Westfield River valley west of the city center. The terraces were cut from deltaic sediments deposited into an arm of glacial Lake Hitchcock approximately 13,000 years ago. The terraces were documented in the early 1900s by famous physical geographer William Morris Davis, revealing a great deal about the evolution of Westfield’s local landscape. A faculty member since 2008, he holds a Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The event is free and open to the public. For a list of the “Westfield Wednesdays” lecture series, visit www.westfield350.org/lectures

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