FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On Friday, December 3, 2021, over 70 staff, board members, friends, and supporters of the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) gathered together via Zoom for HVA’s 80th Annual Meeting.
Hosted by longtime board member and president Anthony “Tony” Zunino, the event honored two watershed heroes whose work will have a lasting impact on the Housatonic watershed for years to come, and featured David Vallee, Hydrologist-in-Charge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northeast River Forecast Center.
Dr. Xinyi Shen, Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut, received HVA’s River Champion of the Year award for his innovative work in analytic hydrology. His hydrologic model translates data collected in the field by HVA staff and volunteers into user-friendly action plans for towns. This allows them to prioritize water restoration projects, helping to reduce flooding and improve stream health and climate resilience in the face of heavier storms.
Bob Valentine, former First Selectman of Goshen, received the Conservation Champion of the Year award for his strong community leadership and steadfast land conservation advocacy. Most recently, he was instrumental in identifying and protecting more than 640 acres of farmland and forest at Beacon Hill in Goshen, which is now part of Goshen’s wildlife management area.
Guest speaker David Vallee then spoke about the effects of climate change and natural disasters on the Housatonic River Watershed during his talk “Henri and Ida: Siblings of our Changing Climate.”
He stressed that over the last 30-40 years, climate change has impacted the magnitude of rainfall, frequency of natural disaster events like hurricanes, and flood behaviors – affecting the way river systems respond. Vallee’s work helps the emergency management community predict and identify possible river chokepoints and flood areas so they can respond efficiently and effectively in times of crisis.
“The irrefutable pace of climate change requires us to focus directly on strategic and systematic initiatives to build climate resiliency across the watershed,” said HVA’s Executive Director Lynn Werner. “Despite challenges, we had an unprecedented year of accomplishment for the Housatonic Valley. With a terrific network of local, state, federal and community partners, we’ve so far conserved and queued up for protection nearly 5,000 acres of vital forestland or about 10 % of our 15-year goal. And we expanded water restoration work into 23, or 75%, of our 31 high-priority sub-watersheds across the region. We’re making great strides together to sustain this place we love.”
Contact: Kelley Hall, Communications & Engagement Manager