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NRWA Protecting Coldwater Fish: Locating Refugia

Nashua River Watershed Association is grateful to receive a Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) grant of $16,000 to install 12 to 15 temperature dataloggers in Coldwater Fish Resource (CFR) streams. MA Fish & Wildlife defines CFRs as “a waterbody (stream, river, or tributary thereto) used by reproducing coldwater fish to meet one or more of their life history requirements. CFRs are particularly sensitive habitats. Changes in land and water use can reduce the ability of these waters to support trout and other kinds of coldwater fish.”
     Nashua River watershed is fortunate to have a number of high quality CFRs within its river system, including the Nissitissit, Quinapoxet, Squannacook, and Stillwater Rivers, as well as their headwater tributaries, and some of the smaller direct tributaries to the Nashua River. The loggers will be installed in streams in the towns of Ashby, Dunstable, Groton, Lunenburg, Pepperell, Shirley, and Townsend.
     Continuously logged temperature data will help identify where climate-change “refugia” exist for coldwater-dependent fish species, as temperatures rise 2 ̊C, 4 ̊C, and 6 ̊C. The effort is part of a larger project (ecosheds. org) that models where fish may go to survive in Massachusetts streams as in-stream temperatures rise.
     Partners in this effort are the Squan-a-Tissit Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife). Volunteers will help conduct quality control checks near the loggers once each month during the warmer summer months.
MET funding will also support a series of webinars highlighting scientific investigations on-go- ing in the Nashua River watershed. Look for announcements about the webinars to come this winter.
     MET is funded through the sales of its specialty license plates, such as their signature Whale Plate. The standard registration fee for a Massachusetts plate is $60. The special plate fee is an additional $40 (tax- deductible every two years) for a total cost of $100. When you purchase a specialty plate from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the $40 specialty plate fee goes directly to the Trust to fund water-focused environmental pro- grams. To order a specialty plate, visit your local Registry of Motor Vehicles online at
www.mass-rmv.com or www.whaleplate. org.
     * To learn more about MET, visit www.mass.gov/eea/met.
     * To learn more about Nashua River Watershed Association and its work, visit www.Nash- uaRiverWatershed.org. NRWA is non-profit environmental organization supported by membership, donations, and grants, serving 32 communities in north central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.
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