Housatonic River Valley preservation focus of upcoming lecture

Sunday, April 19, 2015


By Clarence Fanto

Posted: 04/13/2015 01:53:17 PM EDT

LENOX >> Valued as a world-class fishery and a place of rest, retreat and repose between urban and wilderness landscapes, the Housatonic River Valley will be explored in a talk this Sunday by a former local minister and ardent conservationist at the Lenox Library.

The Rev. Stephen Paul Booth, who retired as Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in 2011 after eight years of service, will speak on "Culture, Community and Conservation in the Housatonic Valley." The free public lecture at 4 p.m. is part of the library's monthly Distinguished Lecture series.

The talk is indirectly connected to the pending GE-EPA cleanup of PCB "hot spots" in its still-evolving Rest of River project, Booth said in a phone interview.

But the emphasis will be on the "question of why it is that we appreciate the Housatonic River Valley," he said. "What is it about that place that makes us love it?"

"The bulk of what I'll have to say is philosophical," Booth said. "I want people to leave with a good sense of why they value it so much, to connect what we see in our eyes, think in our minds and feel in our hearts with conservation activities."

Booth, a former HVA board member who now lives in Chester, Nova Scotia, returns to the Berkshires frequently.

Describing the river as a "world-class fishery," he noted its importance not only to area residents but to visitors. "The valley is a 'middle landscape' between the urban environment and wilderness," he said. "The valley surrounding the watershed, including the mountains, is a source of emotional sustenance."

Booth, 70, a 1965 graduate of Amherst College, had emigrated from northern England to Pittsfield when he was 17 after his late father, Enoch Booth, was appointed as a cytologist at Berkshire Medical Center (then Pittsfield General Hospital).

"Berkshire County's natural resources are constantly competing with residential and commercial interests," Lenox Library Executive Director Sharon Hawkes said. "The environmental health of the Berkshires and what people can do to maintain it will be the emphasis" of the talk, she stated. The lecture series is produced by Prof. Jeremy Yudkin of Boston University, a Stockbridge resident.

The Housatonic's 149 miles of waterway in Berkshire County and Connecticut are home to many rare and endangered species of plants and animals along its banks. The HVA's mission is to assess the river's quality, create shoreline land for public recreation and educate the public on the importance of conservation.

The river and surrounding valley support kayaking, fishing, swimming, hiking and camping along much of its length for some 750,000 residents and visitors annually, the association stated.

The Sunday event is co-sponsored by the HVA, based in Cornwall Bridge, Conn., with branch offices in South Lee and in Wassaic, N.Y., in memory of the late Prof. Chauncey C. Loomis, Jr., a longtime Stockbridge resident and HVA hoard member.

Passionate about exploration, conservation, photography and fly-fishing, Loomis established an endowment fund to help support the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and its 21 affiliated organizations, including the HVA.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.

If you go ...

What: Lenox Library Distinguished Lecture Series with Canon Stephen Paul Booth, speaking on "Culture, Community, and Conservation in Berkshire County."

When: 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Lenox Library, 18 Main St.

Cost: Free to the public, followed by a reception with refreshments.

Information: www.hvatoday.org, lenoxlib.org or 413-637-2630.



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