July 21, 2008

The Best Friend a River Ever Had

By Howard Weiss-Tisman, Brattleboro Reformer, Vt.

Jul. 21--BRATTLEBORO -- David Deen was recognized Saturday for his 10 years of work with the Connecticut River Watershed Council.

Deen was surprised with the announcement, which was made at the organization's annual meeting held at the Riverview Cafe with the Connecticut River rolling outside the window.

When he given his plaque, a print of a shad, Deen looked at the fish and became emotional, saying this was the reason he does the work.

For a decade Deen has worked to clean and protect the Connecticut River.

One of his most recent efforts has been fighting Entergy about the company's plan to raise the temperature of the river with outflow from an uprate on the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Before presenting Deen with his award, CRWC President George Okun said the recent fight with Entergy is just one of the projects Deen has had a part in over the years.

"He is a legend in the environmental community," said Okun. "His work on the Vermont Yankee permit is stopping Entergy's effort to turn the river into its own personal shad-free wading pool."

Deen, who is steward of the Connecticut River for New Hampshire and Vermont, was joined at the meeting by the Connecticut and Massachusetts stewards.

Before Deen received his honor, CRWC Executive Director Chelsea Reiff Gwyther talked about some of the group's successes of the past year and upcoming challenges.

A proposed army base that was slated to open along the Connecticut River in Connecticut was stopped after the watershed council fought to prevent the development.

And the group's annual cleanup this year brought out more than 2,000 volunteers in four states.

About 50 tons of garbage was collected from the Connecticut River and some of its tributaries during the cleanup this year.

But Reiff Gwyther reminded the group that there was work to do.

She said the Massachusetts cities of Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee continue to discharge sewer overflow into the river.

And she said the habitat along the river is challenged in all four states by old dams that no longer provide power, but still affect wildlife.

The meeting at the Riverview was just upriver from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, and Reiff Gunther said the group will continue to keep an eye on Entergy as it moves ahead with its plan to extend its license to operate.


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