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Paradise Pond Symposium

5 Apr

Paradise Pond—the beloved campus and community landmark—is filling with sediment. In the past, the sediment was removed every six to ten years and transported to the Northampton landfill. However, as a result of the landfill closing and concerns over sediment release during excavation, a new sluicing method was proposed. This method allows sediment to continue downstream rather than being captured and removed from the Mill River.Sediment In Pond at 1.49.03 PM

This Friday, April 8th, Smith will host a symposium on the sedimentation issue. The symposium will include a series of talks and poster presentations reporting on the current status of the project. It will also feature a keynote address by Brian Yellen, adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Join us at the Smith College Conference Center, 49 College Lane, for all or part of the symposium.


10:00 Welcome
10:05 History of Paradise Pond and past dredging operations
10:20 Downstream monitoring: sediment and hydrology
10:40 Downstream monitoring: biology
11:00 Keynote address: Climate Change and Sediment Yield From New England Rivers: Lessons From Tropical Storm Irene
12:00 Lunch and poster presentations
1:00 Analysis of September 30, 2015 sluicing experiment
1:20 Operational plan for phase II
1:40 General discussion and concluding remarks  

IMG_0755 (1)

Professor Bob Newton and students Heather Upin ’16 and Emma Harnisch ’18 take sediment samples while working on the R/V Silty.



Exploring Water Flow and Sediment Deposition at Paradise

24 Aug

Hi! My name is Lizzie Sturtevant (’18), one of several students and faculty working on the Mill River Monitoring Project. I am majoring in geoscience and have an interest in hydrology and resource management. I have been working with geoscience professor Robert (Bob) Newton along with Marcia Rojas (18’), Maya Domeshek (18’), and Lynn Watts (17’) to examine water flow and sediment deposition in Paradise Pond and the Mill River during different weather events.


With support from the Center for the Environment(CEEDS), the Mill River Monitoring Project has brought together students, faculty, and staff with a variety of backgrounds and interests in the search for an alternative method of sediment removal in Paradise Pond that will preserve the health of the river and save the school money while making use of the natural hydraulic power of the Mill River.

As suggested by its name, Paradise Pond is a landmark cherished by members of the Smith community and town of Northampton for its scenic relief and space for boating activities. A resource so central to the scenery on campus does not come without the cost of proper maintenance. Every 8-10 years, Smith College pays to have Paradise Pond dredged to remove accumulated sediment. This expensive process involves the excavation and transportation of the sediment to a landfill.

When looking across the mounds of mud and dead leaves that have filled several sections of Paradise Pond, you may have wondered what causes this accumulation of sediment. Naturally, rivers have a balance of sediment inflow and outflow; however, the construction of a dam such as the one used to create Paradise Pond can disrupt this balance by lowering water velocities, thus enabling the deposition and accumulation of sediment (Batuca et. al, 2000).

Sediment In Pond at 1.49.03 PM
A birds-eye view of the sediment in Paradise Pond.

It may be possible to use the natural power of the Mill River to remove this sediment by operating the sluice gate that is located at the base of the campus dam. This project is exploring the possibility of opening the gate during events of high flow to hydraulically erode the sediment and carry it through the gate, ultimately flushing it downstream and into the natural flow of river sediment.

Prior to releasing significant amounts of sediment through the sluice gate, it is important that we know the potential effects of depositing this sediment downstream. To evaluate these risks of contamination, we have taken sediment cores from Paradise Pond and sites downstream to compare their composition. We have been analyzing these cores for contaminants such as mercury, lead, and phosphorous, which could affect the ecosystems downstream if found at higher concentrations in the pond.

RiverRayThe “River Ray” which we use to measure water velocity and discharge.

Laboratory instructor Marney Pratt (biological sciences) has been working with Molly Peek (18′) to measure the invertebrate diversity of the river in order to study the effect of sediment release on the biological communities downstream of the pond. If you have been following the [CEEDS] blog at all, you have already heard from Molly about some of the macroinvertebrates they have found!

Professor Newton, Maya, Marcia, Lyn and I have established four reference sites downstream of Paradise Pond to observe and record sediment deposition following the opening of the sluice gate. Now that we have established our baseline data and characterized the sediment in the pond, we are prepared to test opening the sluice gate to see how the sediment will be deposited downstream. We will keep you updated on our findings as we move forward with our research! 

-Lizzie Sturtevant (’18) lives in Morrow House and plays on Smith’s lacrosse team. She grew up in the Pioneer Valley and now lives in Leyden Massachusetts- only a 35 minute drive from campus. Lizzie fell in love with geology when she studied abroad in New Zealand during her junior year of high school.

Reference Cited:

Batuca, Dan G., and Jan M. Jordaan. Silting and Desilting of Reservoirs. Rotterdam, Netherlands: A.A. Balkema, 2000. Print.

Field Work on the Mill River

17 Aug

It’s Molly Peek (’18) again! I am working on the Mill River Project with Marney Pratt and Mia Ndama (’17). We are using different macroinvertebrate sampling methods to measure the health of the Mill River. A typical day of sampling for me involves both field and lab work. In the field, the first thing we do is deploy a Hester-Dendy sampler, which is a long-term macroinvertebrate sampling method. The Hester-Dendy is a series of small, pressed wood plates attached to a screw. This sampler is then secured to a cinder block. Three cinder blocks with one Hester-Dendy each are placed in a line across the stream and left for 4 weeks. Macroinvertbrates will start to live on the Hester-Dendy, and when we remove the device we will have an entire community of animals to sample.


After I place the Hester-Dendy, I use another sampling method, kick net sampling, to collect a sample of macroinvertebrates by disturbing the substrate, causing them to float into my net. I do this several times in one section of river and then take all of my collected samples back to the lab so I can catalog the results.

In the lab, I identify each individual to its genus, and then preserve it for future reference. I use these identifications to calculate water quality and stream health based on the number and type of invertebrates found in my samples. We find many different types of organisms, but some of the most important are mayfly, stonefly, and caddisfly larva. Anyone who is interested in flyfishing might recognize these bugs because they are important bait, but we are interested in them because they are groups that are sensitive to pollution and are good indicators of stream health.

#2(Caddisfly, or Trichoptera, larva)

The identifications can be tough sometimes, because the animals can be quite small and difficult to distinguish, even under a microscope, but we are currently working on a dichotomous key that will make identification easier in the future. This key will be used in BIO 155 when the class has their unit on macroinvertebrate sampling, and is specially made for the Mill river and for students who do not have experience identifying macroinvertebrates. It has also been pretty fun to make!

-Molly lives in King House and plays on Smith’s field hockey team. She grew up in New Jersey and now lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

A Day in the Lab

6 Aug

Hello! It’s Maya Domeshek of the Paradise Pond Sediment Sluicing Project again.

Last time I told you a bit about lab work and lab machinery.  But today I’d like to tell you about the other thing I’ve been learning this summer—Database Building.  As I’m sure you know, almost everything in our lives involves data management.  A good example is the college itself.  It has to keep track of people (students, faculty, staff) and money (salaries, tuition, aid) and also institutional information like grades and classes.  When there are so many different kinds of data connected in so many different ways—students have classes, grades, teachers, and tuition and teachers have classes, students, and salaries—a simple spreadsheet is not sufficient.  You build a database.

The Pond Project does not require anything so complicated as the college’s Banner Web system—which is good because I’ve only just started learning about Databases—but it’s just complicated enough that a flat file database won’t work.  I first became interested in databases when I noticed that we were having trouble keeping track of all of the sediment data we were collecting.  As I explained last time, most of my work has been determining the metal concentrations in the pond sediment.  Our method involves extracting the metals by digesting the sediment samples with acid and then analyzing the liquid with the ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma spectrometry- Optical Emission Spectroscopy).  In order to check our method, we have been running multiple extractions on some sediment cores to see how variable our extraction process is.  We have also been doing multiple ICP analyses on some extracts to see how variable the ICP is.  Unfortunately, the database we were using didn’t have a way to distinguish these different kinds of replicates, which made it hard for us to quantify the different kinds of error in our procedure.

This struck me as a problem worth fixing, so Bob (i.e. Professor Newton my research advisor and the new director of CEEDS) has kindly let me take some time out of my regular work to learn how to program a database in his preferred database system—Filemaker Pro.  I finished a first version of it last week in which the database could at least tell the difference between samples that had been extracted repeatedly and samples that had been analyzed repeatedly.  The next step is to get the database to average the metal concentrations of the different kinds of replicates and calculate their standard deviations.  That has required me to start learning about relational databases—databases that can associate a record in one table with one or more records in another one.  In our college database example, there might be a table with a list of students and one with a list of classes but each student can have multiple classes and each class can have multiple students so you might want to organize it as a relational database.

Anyway, once I had my first version of the database up and running with all the data in it, I could finally look at all of the metal data we’d been collecting.  And when I did, there was a new problem glaring right back at me—whenever we ran the same extract of a sample through the ICP and then did it again some time later, the later analysis would have a lower metal concentration than the first.  This meant that the metal concentration in our extract solutions was going down over time, probably because the metals were precipitating out.  With the new knowledge from the database, we can now revise our method to keep a consistent and small amount of time between our extracts and analyses.  Then we will have more accurate data on the metal content of the pond sediments so that we can get our permits and begin experimenting with sediment sluicing.

Also I now have a question for the chemistry department—why is it that some metals precipitate out of an acidic solution faster than others?

-Maya Domeshek ’18 has just finished her work on the Paradise Pond Project as a CEEDS-supported Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow with Professor Robert Newton.  She has not yet settled on a major, but in her free time she enjoys dancing, dance teaching, and sharing a meal with friends and family.

Messing About in Boats (Or in the Lab)

30 Jul

Hello, Internet! I’m Maya Domeshek (’18) and I’m working on the Paradise Pond Sediment Sluicing Project.  I’ve been working on it since last fall, and it’s been one of the great pleasures of my first year at Smith that I’ve been able to spend time on the pond in all seasons and weathers.  I especially enjoyed collecting sediment samples this fall (who doesn’t like to get their hands covered in mud?) and traversing the pond and the Mill River in a row boat, a pontoon boat, and a canoe.  As the River Rat in The Wind in the Willows would say “There is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing.”

But Geology isn’t all field trips; it’s also lab work and data analysis.  So I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you a little about what we do in the lab and the wonderful laboratory machines that Marc Anderson tends and explains with such love.  Much of my research work this past year has been focused on analyzing the sediment samples we’ve collected in order to to determine their metal content.  We would like to know, for example, if  they have high lead concentrations so that we don’t wash anything poisonous downstream.  Don’t worry—so far none of our sediment has dangerous levels of lead.

Maya in the field.

When I analyze a sediment sample for metal, I take a few grams of sediment and heat them with nitric and hydrochloric acid and then burn off the organics with peroxide.  This pulls most of the metal into solution.  I then dilute the acidic water and soil solution to a known volume and measure the concentration of metal in that solution.  Once I know the concentration of metal in a known volume, I can calculate the total amount of metal in that known volume and thus the total amount in the few grams of sediment I started with.

My favorite part of this process is that I get to measure the concentration of metals in the sediment using the lab’s ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer).  This machine takes a small amount of a sample and heats it up hotter than the surface of the sun.  It then measures the intensity of light the atoms in the sample emit at their characteristic wavelengths.  Based on these intensity measurements, it can calculate the concentration.

There are many other things do in the lb and many other fascinating instruments to do them with.  My fellow student researcher Lizzie often works with the Hydra C, which measures mercury using atomic absorption (not emission).  Lyn has been looking at the changing chemistry of the water over the course of a storm, so she often uses the IC which measures the concentration of ions like nitrate and sulfate.  And Marcia has been determining the size makeup of the sediment, which actually only requires sieving.

I suppose that’s enough information about lab procedures and machines for now.  But, it really is amazing to think about how much thought and work that went into creating the analytic tools we get to use.  Check back next time to hear about data analysis.

-Maya Domeshek ’18 is currently working on the Paradise Pond Project as a CEEDS-supported Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow with Professor Robert Newton.  She has not yet settled on a major, but in her free time she enjoys dancing, dance teaching, and sharing a meal with friends and family.

Researching on the Mill River

29 Jul

I’m Molly Peek ’18 and I am working with biology lab instructor Marney Pratt and geosciences Professor Bob Newton on the Mill River Monitoring Project this summer. While the majority of the project is geology based, Marney and I look at the ecological effects of the changing hydrology and sedimentation of the river. It’s a great research project that involves a lot of wading (and sometimes swimming) in streams and looking at bugs and mussels!


The majority of this project involves testing the health of the stream to see if there are any drastic changes after a new sluicing method is tried on the Paradise pond dam. We use water quality and Shannon Diversity indexes to measure stream health by the amount and type of macroinvertebrates found living in the stream before and after the sluicing has begun. Because some invertebrates are more tolerant to environmental change and water quality than others, we look to see if there is a good mix of hearty and sensitive macroinvertebrates in a sample to formulate the health of the stream.

This summer, we are using two methods of sampling for these animals. The first is kick net sampling, which is used widely in stream health research and in Smith biology classes. The other method uses Hester-Dendy samplers, which is a longer-term method of sampling.

While this data is being used to assess the impact of a new method of dredging, it is also being used to help the Smith biology department. When the invertebrates are sampled, they are identified as accurately as possible and put into a key that will be used by students to help them do the same sampling and identification in class.

We are also taking surveys on the density and type of freshwater mussels found in the river as another indicator of stream health. Most of the mussel species found in the Mill River are stable and long-lived, so they are good indicators of the history of the stream’s health.

-Molly lives in King House and plays on Smith’s field hockey team. She grew up in New Jersey and now lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont!

Otters at Paradise

22 Apr

Every year, spring thaw means river otter time in Western Massachusetts.  Just as the ice on ponds and lakes starts to melt, I keep an eye out for these playful aquatic mammals to pop out onto the ice and munch on fish and crayfish.

otter on ice  otter face

This year, nature lovers at Smith were treated to an especially good view of a pair of rivers otters on Paradise Pond for about a week running.  I took these pictures and videos over the course of about 3 days as the otter (or otters — I’m not sure if I was looking at the same one all the time, and I never got to see both at once) ate fish after fish.

Now it’s time to look for otter pups!

-James Lowenthal is a professor of astronomy, co-director of the environmental concentration: climate change, and a CEEDS Faculty Fellow.

Problem Solving in Paradise Pond: Usage of Wetlands to Reduce Sediment Accumulation

12 May

Over the last few weeks of this semester, students in our Ecohydrology class at Smith College have taken on challenging hydrologic questions that are relevant to our community. In this post, Brittany Bennett and Nicole DeChello address the question:   What is the potential for riparian wetlands along the Mill River – either constructed or natural – to reduce sediment accumulation in Paradise Pond?

Few landmarks are as cherished as Paradise Pond at Smith College, but maintaining the idyllic space is not without a price. Sediment from the Mill River builds up at the bottom of the pond over time. The college must dredge the pond on a regular basis, about once every 8 years, in order to prevent the formation of an additional island. In 1990, 27,000 cubic feet of sediment were removed from the pond (Hartwell, 2014). For comparison, that is almost a third of an Olympic sized pool of sediment. In addition to the high costs associated with this process, dredging disturbs the local environment and is highly disruptive to all who use the pond. The installation of a riparian wetland upstream could reduce sediment in Paradise Pond after specific rain events, but in the long term will not solve the problem of sediment accumulation.

ParadiseParadise Pond, Smith College

A wetland is an area of soil persistently covered with slow moving water. Riparian wetlands, shown in the image below, exist alongside rivers and are distinguished by distinct vegetation, such as cattails and pondweed, and have a variable water level that is affected by the river flow (pulse-fed wetland). The hydroperiod of a wetland is the seasonal pattern of the water level, and it defines the type of wetland and affects nutrient cycles.

Riparian Wetland Location (Mitsch, 2000).

Wetlands are complicated habitats because the three main characteristics -hydrology, physiochemical environment and biota- are all interconnected. As a result, hydrologists have not been able to use traditional equations, such as Penman or Thornthwaite, to accurately quantify the wetland water balance (water into and out of the wetland), seen in the image below.

Water balance for a wetland (Mitsch, 2000)

Water comes into the wetland from the stream (S), from groundwater (G), which exists under the soil, and from precipitation (P). The water can leave back through the stream, into the groundwater or through interception and evapotranspiration, which involve turning liquid water into vapor that enters the atmosphere. The inflows to a wetland are largely related to season. During rainy periods, the inputs fluctuate according to rain events, such that the water level of the wetland goes up when it has rained because of the precipitation input and the increased water in the stream.

Rain events also correspond to increased sediment in the river because rainfall washes away dirt when running over land and can cause erosion along the riverbanks. As the sediment travels with the river, some will encounter wetlands. As the water enters the wetland, it slows down due to a wider space to travel through, which causes the flow to lose energy and its ability to continue to carry the sediment load. The deposition of sediment in turn creates niches for diverse habitat development. Some of the sediment that enters the wetland will decompose, but sediment can also start to build up in a wetland and prevent water from flowing through. Wetlands do not keep the sediment forever; water also flushes the wetland of waste products, particularly from soil and root metabolism (Mitsch, 2000). Furthermore, fish, wind, and/or other factors can cause sediment to become resuspended in the water, especially during times of shallow water depth (Dieter, 1990). The life cycle of wetland sediment is summarized in the image below.

Sediment flows in a wetland (Kadlec, 1996)

The sediment from the river, as seen above, can accumulate in the wetland and some will decompose, but some sediment will also become resuspended in the water and the aquatic life can create sediment that travels downstream. The sediment that is traveling down the Mill River is mostly coarse sand and organic debris. The image below shows the banks of the Mill River.

Erosion along the Mill River (photo: Alex Julius)

During rain events, precipitation will run over the top of the soil and, at areas similar to the one shown above, continue to erode the banks carrying soil and organic debris into the river. The sediment travels downstream and ends up in Paradise Pond. When the Mill River joins the pond, the area widens and allows the stream to slow down. The reduction in velocity leads to sediment accumulating at the bottom of the pond, similar to the way sediment accumulates in a wetland. The main area of deposition is at the junction of the river and the pond, adjacent to the island, as seen in the picture below.

mr map
Map of Mill River through Paradise Pond (Google Maps)

As mentioned previously, about 27,000 cubic feet of sediment were removed from the pond in Smith’s largest dredging project. To assess whether a riparian wetland could eliminate the need to the dredge the pond, the maximum volume of sediment a wetland could store was determined. A study of constructed wetlands in Illinois measured accumulation rates in wetlands to be 0.5 to 1.0 centimeters per year, which were admittedly overestimations (Fennessy). For a hypothetical one-acre one-foot-deep wetland, at the maximum observed rate it would take 18.9 years for 27,000 cubic feet of sediment to accumulate. An almost 19 year timespan exceeds the average 8 years between dredging projects. This simple calculation does not take into account the decomposition of sediment over time or the resuspension of sediment. Several acres of wetland could be added upstream to reduce the timespan, but considering the issues of private property and number of acres necessary this does not seem reasonable. At the simplest level, an upstream wetland does not seem to be a feasible alternative to dredging.


Brooks, Kenneth N. Hydrology and the Management of Watersheds. Ames, IA: Iowa State UP, 1997. Print.

Dieter, C.D. 1990. The importance of emergent vegetation in reducing sediment resuspension in wetlands. J. Freshw. Ecol. 5:467-473

Fennessy, M. Siobhan, Christopher C. Brueske, and William J. Mitsch. “Sediment Deposition Patterns in Restored Freshwater Wetlands Using Sediment Traps.” Ecological Engineering 3.4 (1994): 409-28. Print.

Kadlec, Robert H., and Robert L. Knight. Treatment Wetlands. Boca Raton: Lewis, 1996. Print.

Mitsch, William J., and James G. Gosselink. “The Value of Wetlands: Importance of Scale and Landscape Setting.” Ecological Economics 35.1 (2000): 25-33. Print.

Riparian Buffers: Protecting the Mill River by Filtering Fertilizer from the Florence Fields

9 May

Students in Ecohydrology at Smith College have spent the last weeks of the semester taking on challenging hydrologic questions relevant to our community. In this post, Ellena Baum, Alison Grady, Michelle Hannon, and Maya Kutz address the question: What is the effectiveness of the riparian forest buffers along the Florence Fields on reducing the nitrate load to the Mill River?

Excess nitrogen is a form of nonpoint source pollution that can contribute to the growth of algae and the decrease of available oxygen in waterways.(1) Nonpoint source nitrogen pollution stems from a variety of locations, including agricultural fields treated with fertilizer, and it arrives in rivers and lakes through stormwater runoff and subsurface water flow.(2) One way to mitigate this problem is by introducing riparian buffers, which are strips of vegetation along the banks of rivers that filter sediments and pollutants, stabilize eroding banks, and preserve wildlife habitat.(3)

Riparian buffers are commonly used as transition areas between the Mill River and surrounding fields. The Florence Fields consist of four farms, the Florence Organic Community Garden, and the Florence Recreation Area, spanning about 120 acres of land, as shown in Figure 1, below.(4) While synthetic fertilizers were applied to the fields in the first two years of establishment, the City of Northampton plans to use organic methods of fertilizer such as cover crops, compost, and manure to manage the fields in the future.(5, 6)

Figure 1. Map of Florence Fields(4)

After fertilizer is applied to agricultural lands, excess nitrogen can leach into the groundwater as water-soluble nitrate or be carried by surface runoff as either nitrate or as ammonium attached to sediment.(7) Nitrate is more likely to leach into soils that have a high hydraulic conductivity, which is defined as the ease with which water can flow through a material.(8) For example, gravel, with a high hydraulic conductivity, allows water to pass through more easily, while clay has a low hydraulic conductivity, and retains more water. Once water leaches into the groundwater, it travels as subsurface flow to the nearest waterway, which is the Mill River in the case of the Florence Fields. If water does not leach into the groundwater, it travels as overland flow, which is faster and carries more sediment when the slope of the land is steeper.

Riparian buffers can slow down overland flow because the presence of vegetation can interrupt flow and cause the water to release sediment and infiltrate into the soil.(9) Once the nitrogen has infiltrated into the soil of a riparian buffer, whether it arrived there through overland flow or subsurface flow, it can be taken up by plants or denitrified before the groundwater reaches the river.(10) Denitrifying bacteria in the root zone of the buffer changes water-soluble nitrate into nitrogen gas which escapes into the atmosphere.(11) Nitrogen removal is more effective if the water spends more time in contact with the vegetation root zone.(12) The residence time of the water in the buffer zone is affected by slope, soil type, vegetation type, and buffer width, and the effectiveness of nitrogen removal can be quantified by measuring the changes in nitrate concentrations in the water.(12) A twelve-year study in Bear Creek, Iowa found that riparian buffers could reduce up to 80% of surface water nitrogen and up to 90% of groundwater nitrate.(13)

It is unknown which buffer characteristic has the largest impact on pollutant removal, but there are a variety of recommendations for best practices. State and federal guidelines for buffer width suggest covering between seven and one hundred meters from the stream bank, depending on site conditions.(14) The effect of width is inconsistent and suggests that soil type and groundwater flow are also important factors in nitrogen removal.(15) A wider buffer should be used for steep land or where pollutant loads are high, in order to provide more opportunity for pollutant removal.(16) Figure 2 below shows the relationship between buffer width and nitrogen removal effectiveness based on compiled research by the EPA. The dotted lines indicate the probable 50%, 75%, and 90% removal efficiencies based on the fitted non-linear model.(14) According to these data, a buffer width of only five meters would be needed to remove 50% of the nitrogen in the water moving through the buffer. It takes significantly wider buffers to remove 75% or 90% of the nitrogen based on the logarithmic relationship between width and effectiveness.(14)

Fig2Figure 2. Nitrogen Removal Efficiency based on Buffer Width(14)

Vegetation fosters the presence of denitrifying bacteria and absorbs nitrogen through root networks.(17) Various types of vegetation in a riparian buffer zone are needed to absorb nonpoint source pollution in infiltrated water or subsurface flow. Buffer zones are most effective as combinations of different vegetation types because of their complementary canopy heights and root structures.(18) The design of an ideal buffer is shown in Figure 3, below. Tall trees with large canopies are especially beneficial close to the water because their root systems absorb more nitrogen from subsurface runoff, stabilize stream banks, and provide shade to keep stream temperatures cool.(18) Rapidly growing woody species, such as willow, poplar, silver maple, and green ash, ensure rapid uptake of nutrients in a riparian buffer zone.(18) On the outskirts of a buffer zone, native shrubs and grasses can serve as a transition from developed landscape to riparian ecosystem.(18) Forest management could include trimming tree stems to stimulate increased growth and nitrogen uptake.(18) Grass-only buffers have been shown to be more variable in nitrogen uptake, perhaps as a function of buffer width.(14) 

Figure 3. Ideal Design of a Riparian Buffer(18)

Our research provided a theoretical basis for future field testing of the riparian buffer at the Florence Fields. Satellite images show that the riparian buffer between the Florence Fields and the Mill River consists of a mix of vegetative types with a variable width of 30 to 135 meters, which corresponds to 75% nitrogen removal at its narrowest point based on Figure 2. The efficiency of the buffer is difficult to determine because vegetation type and other variables are site-specific and not easily quantified, but it is clear that the benefits of the buffer are not limited to nitrogen uptake. In addition to filtering nitrogen pollution, riparian buffers also contribute to stream bank stabilization, flood control, groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat.(9)

Sources Cited

[1] Chrislock, Michael F. “Eutrophication: Causes, Consequences, and Controls in Aquatic Ecosystems.” The Nature Education. 2013. Web. 3 May 2014. <>

[2] U.S. EPA. “What is Nonpoint Source Pollution?” Water: Polluted Runoff. Web. 2 May 2014.

[3] Connecticut River Joint Commissions. N.p.: Connecticut River Joint Commissions, n.d. CRJC. 1 May 2001. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <>.

[4] Grow Food Northampton. Northampton Community Farm. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

[5] Cain, Chad. Florence Fields to be Managed Organically. 8 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

[6] Lombard, Lilly. Personal Electronic Communication. 16 Apr. 2014.

[7] Follett, Ronald. “Fate and Transport of Nutrients: Nitrogen.” USDA, Agricultural Research Service. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.

[8] Guswa, Andrew J. “Savanna Ecohydrology”. Lecture to EGR 315, Smith College, Northampton, MA. 6 Mar. 2014.

[9] Schultz, R.C., T.M. Isenhart, W.W. Simpkins and J.P. Colletti. “Riparian forest buffers in agroecosystems – lessons learned from the Bear Creek Watershed, central Iowa, USA.” Agroforestry Systems 61: 35-50 2004. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Netherlands.

[10] Aber, John D. et al. “Nitrogen Saturation in Northern Forest Ecosystems.” BioScience, Vol. 39, No. 6. 1989. 378-386. Web. 21 Apr 2014. <>

[11] Rassam, DW; Pagendam, D; Hunter, H . “CRC Catchment Hydrology and CRC Coastal Zones Technical Report 05/9.” CRCCH. 2005. Web. 27 Apr 2014. <>

[12] De la Crétaz, A. & Barten, P. Land Use Effects on Streamflow and Water Quality in the Northeastern United States. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2007.

[13] Kleiman, Laura, and Corry Bregendahl. Funding Impact Brief #5: Bear Creek Riparian Buffer Project. Spring 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

[14] United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Research and Development. Riparian Buffer Width, Vegetative Cover, and Nitrogen Removal Effectiveness: A Review of Current Science and Regulations. By Paul M. Mayer, Steven K. Reynolds, Jr., and Timothy J. Canfield. EPA, 1 Nov. 2005. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

[15] Mayer, Paul M., Steven K. Reynolds, Marshall D. Mccutchen, and Timothy J. Canfield. “Meta-Analysis of Nitrogen Removal in Riparian Buffers.” Journal of Environment Quality 36.4 (2007): 1172. 1 July 2007. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[16] Connecticut River Joint Commissions. N.p.: Connecticut River Joint Commissions, n.d. CRJC. 1 May 2001. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <>.

[17] Aber, John D. et al. “Nitrogen Saturation in Northern Forest Ecosystems.” BioScience, Vol. 39, No. 6. 1989. 378-386. Web. 21 Apr 2014. <>

[18] Environmental Protection Agency. EPA. Bear Creek Iowa, The Case Summary. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

Paradise Pond: Banks = Mink Habitat

11 Dec

During the recent work on the earthen dam around Paradise Pond, project manager, Gary Hartwell, captured this image (and several of squirrels) with a camera trap set up “in the pond” looking back at its banks. The  Mill River’s banks,  just upstream of the pond, appear to be great habitat for Mink.

Mink captured in a camera trap by Paradise Pond

Mink captured in a camera trap by Paradise Pond

– Reid Bertone-Johnson