“Its rivers are rich in history. These waters have provided fish and hunting grounds, rich soils and clear water for farms, and have powered mills.

“Diana’s Pool on the Natchaug has been the site more than one mill. It is a natural treasure during dry times and during flood conditions.

“On April 29, 2011, the mayors and selectmen of the eight towns in the basin gathered at Diana’s Pool. They signed an agreement to protect the resources of the basin.

“The Natchaug River Basin Conservation Compact recognizes that our towns in the basin comprise a river community. That the way we — the river community — live in the basin, will affect how healthy the watershed remains.

“Signing the compact was recognition by all eight towns that more than 60,000 people depend on the basin’s waters. The compact is a commitment from the eight communities to work together regionally.

“What we do here in the Natchaug River basin will impact our quality of life, and help provide clean healthy water all the way to Long Island Sound for generations to come.”

You can find the program on YouTube by going to: http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=493uu3Ap138&feature=youtu.be

Since the initial process establishing the Natchaug River Basin Conservation Compact, work has continued to ensure good water quality in the Natchaug River. I spoke with Jean Pillo, TLGV’s Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator, about work she is doing in the Natchaug watershed. She provided me with the following update:

    • The Last Green Valley’s volunteers have been collecting data in the upper Natchaug River, upstream of Mansfield Hollow Lake. TLGV volunteers have placed thermometers in stream segments to record year-round temperatures. These locations were chosen with input from fisheries staff at the CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, as cold summertime stream temperatures are important to the survival of native brook trout. Volunteers also search for pollution-sensitive bugs in the fall using the “Riffle Bioassessment for Volunteers” program. If volunteers find four or more pollution-sensitive bugs in stream riffles, they indicate that water quality is good for other aquatic life. Training will be offered in early September for new and returning volunteers. If you are interested in learning more about these programs, call Jean Pillo at (860) 928-4948.
    • In 2013, the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District and TLGV volunteers completed a “track-down” survey looking for sources of E. coli contamination in the Mount Hope River. As a result, a watershed plan with recommended actions was submitted to DEEP in 2014, focusing on storm water management in Ashford and Mansfield. A demonstration project for better manure management was also completed at a llama farm in Ashford.
    • The Eastern Connecticut Conservation District is also the recipient of a new grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to complete a Healthy Watershed Initiative Project in the upper Natchaug River, in Woodstock, Union, Eastford, Chaplin and Mansfield. As this watershed is considered the least-degraded river system in our region, the project will focus on policies to keep it clean. This is the first Healthy Watershed Initiative Grant awarded in Connecticut.

We live in a special place called The Last Green Valley. The Natchaug River watershed is one of the beautiful and pristine areas in our region and thankfully many people are working together to ensure it remains as such. I hope you’ll join us as we care for, enjoy and pass on this place we call home.

Bill Reid is the chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 30 years. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org