Creek Brook Wetlands Destruction, Haverhill, Massachusetts
May 9, 2007 Update:
It is with great sadness that I must again update this gallery to further chronicle the continued wetlands destruction by the City of Haverhill, Massachuestts.The images in this gallery show the beauty and subsequent troubling times for this incredible resource located right in the City of Haverhill.
It is with great sadness that I must continue to update this on line Gallery as the City of Haverhill Massachusetts continues to ignore the wildlife of this vibrant wetlands and is once again draining it as a haphazard means of controlling storm water runoff from a nearby hill, stripped of its vegetation to house a new shopping center. This gallery will document both the wildlife seen in this wetlands in 2007 as well as the destruction which began a few days ago and which will continue quickly unless something is done about it.
It is in danger of loosing the wildlife and water that it has had in the past and we must do something to protect it.
This wetlands is home to breeding populations of kingfishers, geese, mallard and wood ducks; possibly American Bitterns which I have spotted there, and spotted turtles which until recently had been considered an endangered species in Massachusetts. In the evenings this fall, major flights of green winged teals, hooded mergansers and other ducks settle into the dense brush to spend the evening, along with migrating shorebirds from the nearby Merrimack river, such as spotted, solitary and pectoral sandpipers.
In early October I had noticed that the water level showed a marked decrease in depth. Numerous inquiries via phone and email to the City of Haverhill Conservation Department with no initial response over the course of five days. When I finally did reach them, I was informed that the "city had done a periodic cleaning of the culvert".
E-mails to the Mayor, the City Council and other City of Haverhill Departments finally got an e-mail response from the mayor, who advised that these were "serious allegations and that he would look into it". A few days later I did indeed here from an official of the Haverhill Conservation department who now claimed that the city had not caused this and that the hydrostatic pressure of the water caused the culvert to clean itself out, thereby allowing the water to drain.
I find it strange that a natural purging due to water pressure would not only deposit a large pile of freshly removed, muddy debris 4' up from the previous water level, but that it in addition, left not even a sign of anything having flushed it's way through the small diameter, smooth bore concrete culvert at the discharge end?
In addition, this conservation official claimed that this was the normal water level (4" of muddy water) over the years. I find it interesting that folks I speak with at this place have stories of feeding ducks and watching wildlife here that go back at least the past five years?
I also find it hard to believe that the hundreds of 6 to 10" fish which I watched being consumed by opportunistic great blue herons and cormorants, managed over the years to grow to that size in this mud bowl? I wonder how it is that these fish managed not to freeze solid during the winter months, when this low water level would certainly freeze solid. Neat trick wouldn't you say? This person further went on to tell me that perhaps the fish had made their way up from downstream. This would be a neat trick as well considering that there is no flow and no water directly downstream typically that would support this either.
Literally thousands of fish ranging from small minnows to 8" catfish, pickerel and sunfish have perished from either suffocation or predation by the more than a dozen great blue herons and numerous cormorants who have made easy meals of the stranded fish. I can't fault the birds as they are doing us a favor by cleaning this catastrophe. Thousands of minnows remaining are currently suffocating in what little muddy water remains.
Spotted and other turtles recently migrating back to this watershed for their winter sleep could be lost.
The beavers can no longer use their lodge as it is now totally exposed above water.
The public has used this area frequently for a unique, first hand observation of wildlife they wouldn't otherwise see. Parents brought their children, adults brought their elderly parents to see the various birds. Fathers brought their sons to fish for catfish, grass pickerel and sunfish. Birders stroll along the road the parallels this wetlands as it affords first hand, closeup viewing that is unparalleled in the area.
This resource must be protected and I will work with the city and any other applicable agencies possible to strive towards this goal.
I'm wondering when the city will respond with the 'report as to what happened" and I further wonder if they care enough about this jewel of a resource to do something to sustain the wetlands and the wildlife which inhabits it?
Please read the comments posted by visitors to this page, which follow the images.