Warwick beacon - February 24, 2005
Coalition recruits to clean brook, count buckeyes

The phrase “tis the season” usually evokes an image of Santa Claus ringing a bell outside the supermarket, Christmas trees on the roofs of cars, and crowded shopping malls, but when Steve Insana said “tis the season” Monday, he was imagining Earth Day clean-ups, counting herring and recruiting volunteers to take water samples for quality testing.

“The season is coming,” said Insana, vice president and founder of the Buckeye Brook Coalition/Watershed Council. “We’ve been organizing a bunch of goodies and getting prepared for the spring and the [herring] run coming up.”

It’s usually around this time each year that Insana starts planning for the numerous spring events in support of Buckeye Brook, the largest self-sustaining herring run in the state. The drive is part of the annual Earth Day clean-up.

“We’re going to get all the junk out of the banks of the brook and its tributary streams,” said Insana, adding that in years past volunteers have removed, among other things, tires, appliances and old shoes.

Though the details are still in the works, the eighth annual clean-up will be April 9. However, before volunteers can get to cleaning debris and trash from the banks of the brook, members of the coalition will first hold its annual meeting. Scheduled for March 15 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Sandy Lane at 7 p.m., the meeting will look for volunteers to count the fish as they head up the brook and into Warwick Pond, where they spawn.

Each spring, around late April or early May, herring travel up the brook and spawn. After a couple of weeks the adults depart, leaving their offspring to grow. Then, usually around October or November, the juvenile herring leave the pond, only to return to the very place three or four years later to spawn.

“We’re looking forward to a good herring run this year,” said Insana. He reported that 2002 “was a really strong” run. “Those adults will start returning this year to spawn.”

In order to keep track of the number of herring returning to the brook each year, the coalition calls on members of the community to help out. Very simply, they ask folks to stop by the brook at various times throughout the day and count the number of fish they see go by in a one-minute period.

Insana said as much as he loves the brook and wants to see it protected and preserved, he doesn’t want members of the coalition to be the only ones looking out for it. He hopes residents in the city will take pride and ownership in the brook as well and come out to volunteer in full support of what he believes is Warwick’s greatest natural treasure.

“We’re really looking for community involvement,” he said. “We’re looking to broaden the fish monitoring and water quality programs. We want to see the community get active in the programs we’re starting to offer.”

As an additional way of getting this message out, the coalition will host a booth at the New England Salt Water Fishing Show from April 1-3 at the RI Convention Center in Providence. While there, members of the group will educate people about the brook, while promoting it and doing some outreach.

Other future events include a yet-to-be-determined training session for people interested in taking water samples for quality testing, a series of lectures tentatively planned for this May, and Insana said the coalition has already begun planning a 5K walk for May 2006. The coalition will team up with the Pawtuxet River Watershed Council to host what they are hoping will become an annual event.

Buckeye Brook is the largest herring run in the state, competing only with Narrow River, known as Gilbert Stuart due to its proximity to the Gilbert Stuart birthplace. However, Buckeye Brook is the most productive, self-sustaining herring run because, unlike the Gilbert Stuart run, it has no fish ladders. The brook runs from Warwick Pond to Narragansett Bay.

If you are interested in volunteering for the fish count, but cannot make it to the March 15 meeting, you can show up for training sessions at the K of C Hall on March 24 anytime between 5 and 6 p.m. Training should only take about 15 minutes.

Links to pictures of our 2005 Earth Day Cleanup