The first part of the meeting centered around the talks of three local guest speakers: David Santomenna, Associate Director of Land Conservation for The Trustees of Reservations; Joseph Cosgrove, Environmental Program Manager for the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission; and Colin Lawson, New England Culvert Project Coordinator for Trout Unlimited. Speaker topics included discussing the benefits of partnering for land protection, how stormwater collaboratives benefit towns, how partnerships can help make preparing for climate change activity feasible for towns, and the advantage of partnering to protect road and river crossings. Each speaker stressed that no meaningful project can be accomplished without active partnerships.
During the second half of the meeting, featured speaker, Martin McHugh, discussed his experience with the power of partnerships throughout his career. McHugh is a Field Representative for the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s $100 million Hurricane Sandy grant program. He is former Director of the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife and founder and president of McHugh Environmental Associates LLC, a consulting firm focused on practical solutions for conservation, business and sustainability.
In his talk, McHugh emphasized that the most successful partnerships are those that have diverse interests, measurable goals, and approach projects in a multidimensional way. He applauded the recent strides PIE-Rivers has made to restructure and focus on implementation of projects. He also urged partners to continue efforts to strengthen the long-term sustainability of the partnership by broadening the regional network of institutional partners, identifying areas of improvement, and employing steering committees.
The PIE-Rivers Partnership is made up of community leaders representing a wide range of organizations, state and federal governmental agencies, and towns. With the goal of promoting healthy rivers and ecosystems in the coastal rivers of northeastern Massachusetts, PIE-Rivers increases communication, coordination, and collaboration between those involved in the restoration, preservation, and management of the watersheds.
PIE-Rivers partners working with the Ipswich River Watershed Association on these issues include Parker River Clean Water Association, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, University of New Hampshire, Mass Audubon, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Essex County Greenbelt, Trout Unlimited Nor’East Chapter, Chebacco Lake & Watershed Association, Division of Ecological Restoration, The Trustees of Reservations, National Wildlife Federation, 8 Towns and the Great Marsh, and the Towns of Boxford, Topsfield, North Andover, and Ipswich.