The Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) is accepting applications from qualified individuals and small groups seeking practical, real-world experience working on watershed conservation and management projects. These positions are generally unpaid and designed for students looking for an internship/project experience to satisfy graduation requirements. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in one of HVA’s ongoing initiatives, while working with staff to develop a clear set of goals and deliverables that is practical, achievable and meets the requirements of their home institution.
Successful applicants will work alongside experienced professionals for one of the oldest watershed organizations in the nation.Candidates must be highly motivated, passionate about watershed conservation, and able to succeed both independently and as part of a team.
HVA is seeking help for two exciting initiatives described below:
Watershed-based planning: The Housatonic River Watershed is large and complex, running from the clean, cool headwater streams of the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills all the way down to tidal waters south of Derby, CT, eventually flowing into Long Island Sound at Milford and Stratford, CT. At 1,948 square miles, the watershed covers portions of 100 different municipal jurisdictions in three states. An enormous amount of environmental information and information-gathering capacity exists in the watershed, with entities from the federal down to the local level collecting and storing data, but to date there has not been a watershed-wide effort to locate, catalog and assess that information. This leaves HVA and our partners without a shared, strategic understanding of regional conservation priorities and how to work together to effectively deploy our resources.
HVA’s staff and Board of Directors are just completing an update to the organization’s 5-year strategic plan. During this process, a number of ongoing and emerging threats to the lands and waters of Housatonic watershed were identified, including climate change, increasing development pressure and invasive species. It is in the context of these threats that our organizational strategies are being developed. Virtually all of the strategies we’ve identified have a comprehensive gathering and synthesis of watershed environmental information as a bedrock first step. Given the size and diversity of the watershed, this is a daunting task.
Concurrent to our strategic planning process, we have been building support among municipalities and other stakeholders in the Still River watershed (Danbury Metro Area) for adopting a watershed approach to river management. HVA has been awarded funding through the Clean Water Act Section 319 grants program to facilitate the development of a watershed-based pollution reduction plan for the Still River. An important early step in developing this plan is gathering and synthesizing information about the watershed. We are seeking intern assistance for this phase of the planning process. The successful applicant will have an opportunity to help build a model for regional/watershed data management that could be deployed throughout the Housatonic and beyond.
Road/stream crossing assessment and replacement planning: There is a tremendous amount of intersection between stream and transportation networks in the Housatonic watershed. Many of these road/stream crossings are seasonal or year-round barriers to the movement of fish and wildlife. This is the case along the Housatonic tributary streams of the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills, many of which are home to populations of rare species that indicate healthy, intact cold-water fluvial habitat, such as native brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), burbot (Lota lota) and slimy sculpin (Cottus cognatus). Many terrestrial species also use stream corridors for movement between suitable habitats, especially in areas that have been developed. Road/stream crossings can block their movement as well.
While we know stream crossings that interrupt stream habitat continuity are widespread across the watershed, to date there has not been any comprehensive effort to assess road/stream crossings in the region to identify barriers to fish and wildlife. This work must be completed before we can begin to set priorities for restoring stream habitat continuity at barrier crossings. Since 2008, HVA has been working2015 Project-Specific Internships Page 2 of 2 to assess road/stream crossings along the headwaters streams of the Berkshires using the protocol developed by the River and Stream Continuity Project (Continuity Project) 1 , housed at the University of Massachusetts Extension Service. In 2014, we expanded our efforts into the Litchfield Hills in CT and the Ten Mile River watershed in NY. Along with the assessment protocol, the River and Stream Continuity Project maintains the New England Road/Stream Crossing Inventory Database (“Database”)2, which enables easy data sharing, tracking of progress, and facilitates further analysis.
In 2015, HVA will continue conducting assessments using the Continuity Project protocol. We are also working with two towns in CT to develop Road/Stream Crossing Inventory and Replacement Plans, which will include important background information and best practices for managing road/stream crossings, the results of the Stream Continuity Assessments (including ground-verified mapping, photos, physical measurements and aquatic and terrestrial passability information), and additional information for crossings identified as replacement priorities including data required for right-sizing, natural resource/stream habitat value, and information helpful to securing funding for a replacement project. We intend for these documents to serve as a template for developing similar Inventories/Replacement Plans for other municipalities in the watershed.
The successful applicant will have an opportunity visit and assess bridges and culverts throughout the watershed to identify barriers to fish and wildlife passage and collect information that can be used to model hydraulic capacity; assist with post-assessment data processing and report writing, and help us work with municipalities to interpret the results of our assessments and understand how they line up with local priorities and knowledge and develop/refine our Road/Stream Crossing Inventory and Replacement Plans.
Please note that other projects are possible- don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss other ideas.
Requirements: Timing of the internship is flexible, however we expect successful applicants to commit to at least 200 hours of work over a 6-10 week period. Successful applicants will be based out of HVA’s main office in Cornwall Bridge, CT and will be expected to report to the office on a regular basis; however there can be flexibility in how often depending on project needs. Daily access to a personal vehicle is a requirement of both positions. Interns will be compensated for work-related mileage. The Road/Stream Crossing Assessment intern must also be physically able to participate in potentially strenuous field work (i.e. physically active work outside for several hours during hot and/or rainy weather). Housing is not provided.
Application Procedure: Interested candidates should submit the following materials via email:
1. COVER LETTER explaining your interest and qualifications
3. TWO (2) PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES
4. (Optional but encouraged) Examples of past projects relevant to HVA’s mission (please limit to 1-2 pages/project, max of three projects) Incomplete applications will not be considered.
Deadline: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
Questions and applications should be directed to: Michael S. Jastremski, Water Protection Director Housatonic Valley Association E-mail: [email protected] Phone: (860) 672-6678 www.hvatoday.org