Conservation Work at Canoe Meadows

Housatonic River Cleanup

Canoeing on the Housatonic River in Berkshire County, MA
Housatonic River

Up through the 1970s, General Electric (GE) manufactured and serviced electrical transformers using a process that polluted the Housatonic River and surrounding lands with hundreds of tons of toxic and persistent PCB chemicals. These toxins pose threats to human health and wildlife, and efforts to mitigate this environmental disaster have been ongoing since the 1980s. The "Rest of River" (an administrative term designating the river below Pittsfield) cleanup under this permit will take an estimated 13 years.

Mass Audubon has been closely engaged in the planning process for the cleanup for many years. Canoe Meadows is located at the head of the "Rest of River," where the methods for the cleanup will first be applied, and this sanctuary contains habitat that supports numerous rare and common species of plants and animals. 

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Sackett Brook Restoration

Sackett Brook before the removal of the dam.

Sackett Brook, with its headwaters in the October Mountain State Forest and Pittsfield Water Supply land, was a high quality, sand and gravel-bottomed coldwater stream, but its natural flow was interrupted for 80 years by the concrete Gravesleigh Pond Dam and bridge. 

Along with our partners, Mass Audubon is working to restore the ecological integrity of Sackett Brook, an 8.5 mile-long tributary to the Housatonic River that includes an approximately 0.75-mile section that passes through Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in the floodplain of the Housatonic. 

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