By ALVIN REINER
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — A survey by the Boquet River Association shows that flooding prevention is a local priority.
At its annual meeting, members of the organization, better known as BRASS, discussed 2012 accomplishments, named new board members and outlined plans for 2013.
The Boquet River stretches 47 miles from Dix Mountain to its Lake Champlain egress at Willsboro. The watershed, which covers 280 square miles, includes 674 miles of streams.
BRASS serves the watershed communities of Elizabethtown, Essex, Lewis, Westport and Willsboro.
The goals of the organization are to reduce flood damage, promote biodiversity, provide public access and education, prevent pollution and promote participation.
BRASS, formed in 1984, “uses a collaborative, non-regulatory approach to watershed management,” its website says.
“It is a membership-based and volunteer-oriented organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of water and life in the Boquet River watershed.”
During the year, it holds events such as river cleanups, kayaking and canoeing excursions and an annual race.
During the annual meeting, discussions focused on the recent planning survey, which drew 75 responses centered on Boquet River usage and what were perceived as the critical issues facing the waterway.
It was noted that survey respondents deemed erosion and flooding the most important issues.
Stream protection was rated the lowest priority.
“People might think this would mean rules and regulations,” said BRASS Director Julie Martin.
Among the BRASS plans for this year are to:
E Continue to work on updating the watershed management plan.
E Perform an invasive-species roadside survey utilizing volunteers.
E Pursue funds to replace or retrofit culverts that block fish or are too small.
E Continue to collect weekly samples to determine the effectiveness of the phosphorous-removal capabilities of the Willsboro constructed wetland system.
Outgoing President Anita Deming presented the Friend of BRASS award to Dr. Gary Chilson of Elizabethtown in recognition of his many hours of volunteer time, including collecting samples for 21 weeks at the Willsboro Constructed Wetland Pilot Project site during the past year.
Chilson reviewed the wetland project at the meeting.
“If it works, it is a marvelous project,” he said. “It’s phosphorus that is killing our lakes, so they have come up with cells that eat the organic compounds in effluent, which had caused a decrease in oxygen.”
The Willsboro site has been utilizing wollastonite as a filtering agent.
Member Dave Reckahn, who also serves as Essex County Soil and Water Conservation Service manager, told the group a State Department of Environmental Conservation grant includes $25,000 to address issues at Roaring Brook, which flows into the Boquet in New Russia.
“We are hoping to make river-friendly repairs by utilizing trees, rocks and debris to stabilize the banks,” he said. “There are concerns that the channels have been changed. We want to create some habitat and vegetate the heck out of it.”
Also at the meeting, Treasurer Shelling McKinley indicated that BRASS will have to find a way to reduce expenses, primarily due to a decrease in grant income.
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