This is a response to a letter to the editor by Christine Colella. Colella’s letter addresses my previous letter to the editor describing an article calling for Act 250 to be amended allowing for dredging to prevent flooding: which may not work. It became a heated debate when Colella ended her letter stating “shame on you” to me, because I criticized the article. There is no shame in debating science issues; that is how science functions. I lost a retail building that was destroyed in the flood and my family had larger financial losses then likely anyone. Given this and that I have been watching these local rivers more closely then anyone for the last 45 plus years, and because I have a college biology and ecology background, including work with the most advanced commercial companies; I have as much right to speak on these issues as anyone: without shame.
I reviewed the study online as Colella asked readers to do. The study is fine and acceptable as an award-winning student study. Congratulations! However, the problem with this study is that it is negligent when it states, “From this research, it is recommended that Act 250 be amended…” That is the problem I am addressing. I mentioned my reasons in the original letter and Colella failed to address the important scientific issues. This includes a lack of published literature evidence that dredging is safe for rivers, whereby very much the opposite is true. The study looks at aquatic macroinvertebrates that are larvae from the terrestrial environment. It does not look at fully aquatic macroinvertebrates, microinvertebrates and most importantly fish. Fish are much more sensitive to dredging impacts.
The study states, “As exhibited in the research, the water quality of Beaver Brook is again maintaining homeostasis.” This is simply not true. The main branches of the Deerfield River and Beaver Brook contain almost no fish, no Crayfish and no periphyton algae mats that are the foundation of the food chain. The upper regions of the small streams still contain algae and brook trout populations, but only a small percent of the original populations. If Colella was really concerned with the health of our local rivers she would be recommending competent science by considering fish populations, not teaching that nearly biologically dead water bodies have returned to homeostasis and are fit for further environmental impacts that fly in the face of the published literature.
The shame for me is that I fell in love the local rivers, the thousands of fish, minnows, crayfish, and the much larger populations of invertebrates they once contained. And, now must live to experience people masquerading themselves as science teachers stating that it is perfectly fine to further degrade this already nearly dead environment with further environmental assaults: ones that fly in the face of the published literature. This because they have done one simplistic, tiny, very brief study.
A study that failed to consider fish, the critical factor. That is shame! Where are the fish?