NRWA staff assess culverts for wildlife passage and climate resiliency under MET grant 

Culvert Assessment for Wildlife Passage and Climate Resiliency

NRWA staff attended Massachusetts Road Stream Crossings Survey Training in August 2016 offered by the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), in collaboration with the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC). Upon receiving NAACC certification, NRWA staff conducted field work to assess 120 road stream crossings in Ashby, Groton, Fitchburg, Pepperell, Shirley and Townsend. Culvert assessment information can be used by communities to identify high priority bridges and culverts for upgrades and replacements. Benefits include improved aquatic/terrestrial animal passage and storm hazard reduction. The NAACC database is available at

This project was funded by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) Drive for a Better Environment (DFBE) Grants Program.

MET logo color 






"Tick Talk": Preventing Tick Bites and Tick-borne Diseases
with Links to "Tick Talk" Video Presentations

As we head outdoors to hike in the woods and fields, or to work and play in our yards, we need to be aware of the presence of ticks, at all times of year when the temperature is above freezing. Ticks like damp, shady, leafy areas, where they can wait for a person or an animal to come into direct contact with them. That contact can lead to a tick bite, and tick bites can lead to a number of serious diseases, including Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Powassan, and Lyme.  What can you do to protect yourself and your pets while enjoying the outdoors?

1.  Learn about the life cycle of ticks, their habitat, and the symptoms of tick-borne diseases

2.  Protect yourself from tick bites by wearing light-colored long pants, long sleeve shirts, and a hat when outdoors; tuck your pants into your socks

3.  Consider using an insect repellent containing DEET

4.  Always check yourself (and your pets) for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard

5.  Reduce tick habitat by keeping your lawn cut short, and by clearing brush and leaf litter from around your home 

6.  If you’ve been bitten, remove the tick as soon as possible, wash the area, and make a note of the location of the bite and the date in case you develop symptoms; you can save the tick for identification; consider calling your physician. Learn more at MA Public Health’s Tick Disease webpage.

Tick ID card- MA Dept. of Public HealthFor the past several years, the NRWA has been working on a project to help the public become more informed about tick bite and tick-borne disease prevention, sponsoring numerous "Tick Talks" in watershed communities.  These talks have featured panels of experts on ticks and tick-borne disease including public health officials, physicians, and veterinarians.

If you were unable to attend one of these "Tick Talks", you may wish to view one of these videos of recent presentations. (Please note, the basic presentation by Dr. Katie Brown from the MA Dept. of Public Health is generally redundant in these videos, although open discussion may vary, as does the material provided by additional speakers.)

          "Tick Talk" in Bolton, MA on August, 23, 2016 with Dr. Katie Brown, MA Dept. of Public Health, and Dr. Michelle Bianco, DVM, Mid-State Mobile Veterinary Clinic.  General discussion of tick life cycle, tick bite and tick-borne disease prevention for humans and pets.

          "Tick Talk: Lyme Legislative Forum" in Harvard, MA on October 18, 2016 with Senator Jamie Eldridge, co-sponsor of the Lyme treatment coverage mandate; Sheila M. Statlender, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, member of the MA Lyme Disease Legislative Task Force and former “Special Commission to Conduct an Investigation and Study of the Incidence and Impacts of Lyme Disease”; and Donna Castle, Lyme Disease Advocate, and member of the MA Lyme Disease Legislative Task Force.  Special focus on newly legislated Massachusetts healthcare mandate requiring insurance companies to cover longer term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease. Co-sponsored by the MA Lyme Disease Legislative Task Force.

         "Tick Talk: Horses and Lyme Disease" in Pepperell, MA on March 21, 2017 with  Dr. Katie Brown, MA Dept. of Public Health, and Dr. Kerri Mitton, DVM in Shirley MA.  General discussion of tick life cycle, tick bite and tick-borne disease prevention for humans and pets with specialist on horses and Lyme disease. Co-sponsored by the Pepperell Board of Health.

         "Tick Talk" in Harvard, MA on May 2, 2017 with Dr. Katie Brown, MA Dept. of Public Health.  General discussion of tick life cycle, tick bite and tick-borne disease prevention for humans and pets. Co-sponsored by the Harvard Board of Health, Harvard Conservation Commission.

The NRWA’s participation is funded in part by a grant from the Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund, managed by the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts and the Greater Lowell Community Foundation

Be informed and be tick smart so you can enjoy our great outdoors!

Community Foundation of NC MA logo Greater Lowell Community Foundation logo



Nashua River, Squannacook River, Nissitissit River - photo by Cindy Knox PhotographyLeft to right: Nashua River, Squannacook River, and Nissitissit River – photos by Cindy Knox Photography


"Wild and Scenic" Nashua Rivers Study Committee: Update and Input Session

Have you always thought that our rivers are among the most scenic in New England? Are you impressed by the diversity of plants and animals found along our rivers?  Join the Nashua River “Wild and Scenic River” Study Committee on Thursday April 27th from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Nashua River Watershed Association’s River Resource Center, 592 Main Street, Groton, MA.  There will be a general public information sharing and opportunity for input.


The Study Committee was formed after the U.S. Congress passed legislation authorizing the National Park Service to commence a study of sections of the Nashua, Squannacook, and Nissitissit Rivers to determine if they are eligible and suitable for designation as part of the federal Wild and Scenic Partnership River Program.  For more information, please see the newly–created Study Committee website:


The Study is expected to be about a three year process and is voluntarily undertaken by the towns of Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Pepperell, Shirley, and Townsend. The locally-appointed Study Committee is currently reviewing our rivers’ cultural history, outstanding biological and ecological resources, and extensive recreational opportunities. 


Committee members are combing through any and all pertinent local, regional, state and federal records, reports, historical documents, and related data to clarify which resources are considered “outstanding and remarkable”.  At the April 27th event, findings to date will be reported, and the views of attendees will be solicited.


A Study Report will be prepared on the Committee’s findings and a locally-developed Management Plan will be drafted with extensive community input.  That Management Plan will be used to guide future ecological, recreational, historical and cultural protection efforts. Towards the end of the study process, town boards will deliberate on the Management Plan and its non-binding recommendations, and, ultimately each town will vote – at its Town Meeting – on whether it recommends that ”Wild and Scenic” designation be pursued. It is expected that these votes will take place in the spring of 2018.


The April 27th event is an opportunity for any interested area resident to learn more about the Study, to give input, and to talk with Committee members. The Nashua River Watershed Association is playing a lead role along with the National Park Service. The towns have each appointed a Representative to the Committee, and the Committee also includes representatives from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the MA Department of Fish & Game, the MA Division of Ecological Restoration, USGS, and volunteers. 

For planning purposes, please RSVP to the April 27th event; walk-ins are welcome.  To RSVP or for questions, please contact Al Futterman, NRWA Land Programs and Outreach Director, at 978/ 448-0299 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Paddling the Squannacook river - photo by Nancy Ohringer

NRWA Receives Two-Year Massachusetts Environmental Trust Grant for Habitat and Paddling Improvements on the Squannacook River

The NRWA is pleased to announce that it has received a $19,000 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) for a two-year project to address habitat and paddling improvements on the Squannacook River. The Squannacook River is designated an “Outstanding Resource Water” and was recently included in the Nashua River Wild & Scenic Study Act. It is prime habitat for endangered and special species of concern, and is a prized cold-water fishery. It is also a premier paddling destination.

The focus of the new “Habitat Connectivity and Paddling Improvements in the Squannacook River Subwatershed” project is to address issues with river continuity. The free flow of the river can sometimes be negatively impacted at road crossings when the river must go under the roads through culverts. This can impede the movement of fish and wildlife. NRWA staff, who have undergone training, will be assessing stream crossings (culverts) in the Squannacook River subwatershed under the protocols developed by the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative. Assessments will help to prioritize upgrades for local Departments of Public Works, with upgrades leading to improved habitat and flood resiliency. Additionally, NRWA will facilitate a process with citizens, local officials, and habitat experts in regards to thoughtfully clearing some of the more dangerous woody debris obstacles (downed trees or portions of trees) in the Squannacook River to make the river safer for paddling. Woody debris is essential for aquatic habitat, and this process will balance boating needs with habitat preservation. A “Lessons Learned” Guide will be produced showing the “before” and “after” process of debris management. This project is being supported by a number of partners including the Townsend Conservation Commission, the Townsend Department of Public Works, and the Squan-a-Tissit Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  

MET logoThe NRWA would like to thank MET for funding this project. MET is a grant-making organization that protects and preserves water resources and their related ecosystems throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MET is supported through the sale of its specialty license plates.  Learn more about the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and the programs it supports. To order a license plate visit your local Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles or log on to

Do you have questions, or would you like more information? Contact Martha Morgan, NRWA Water Programs Director (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Kathryn Nelson, NRWA Water Monitoring Coordinator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).