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West Springfield

Environmental Committee
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Welcome to the West Springfield, Massachusetts 
Environmental Committee website

Visit the Events link for more info regarding these upcoming events:

West Springfield Earth Day

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Bear Notice click here

POLICE NOTICE:  If you observe illegal activity in Bear Hole, especially vehicles parked unloading ATVs and motor dirt bikes or vehicles actively off-roading, people partying, dumping or hunting, please notify West Springfield Police with a location, vehicle or person description and / or license plate number.  Police are trying to commit to Bear Hole and need our help as being eyes and ears.  Illegal "riding" of ATVs, motor dirt bikes and full sized vehicles is on-going and can result in fines starting at $300 and possible impounding.  If you report an incident, be descriptive so police can provide a punctual response and please be understanding of the police department's resources.   If you observe an incident, feel welcomed to e-mail us what occurred and/or a picture.  Emergencies dial 911.  

Police non-emergency: 413-263-3210  ext# 0

Collaboratively, we can help make Bear Hole safer and more user friendly, while preventing the area's deterioration!   

Check out the “Links” section for info about owls, owl sounds, tracking and a Harvard University study about the future of Massachusetts' forests

The West Springfield Environmental Committee is an ad-hoc, incorporated, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization focused on
environmental issues in the Town of West Springfield. 
We have been serving West Springfield since the fall of 2005.  When the committee was in its infancy,
we were instrumental with assisting the town in establishing a town wide recycling and waste management program. 
Today, our main focus is promoting responsible management and the protection of the 1,700 acre Bear Hole Watershed, as well as managing the Committee's "Student Environmental Education Classroom" (SEEC), providing our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in 
West Springfield with environmental education in the classroom and a subsequent field trip to Bear Hole, Mittineague Park or the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) where they get to apply the practical applications of the curriculum to real life.  
   We are also active with the 330 acre Mittineague Park, especially with trail maintenance issues and working collaboratively with the town regarding park law enforcement, as well as general upkeep.
In addition to conservation efforts, the committee hosts an array of events such as nature walks, birding walks and recreational
hikes within Bear Hole and Mittineague Park as an effort to promote appreciation and awareness of the town's open spaces.
The Environmental Committee is also the primary coordinator/sponsor of West Springfield's Earth Day Fair and 
Clean-Up West Springfield Day, which occur every spring.
We monitor town recycling issues as needed.
The committee is not associated with, nor does it receive any funding from town government. 
We are heavily dependent upon volunteers to help accomplish our projects and grant funding and/or donations for our initiatives.
Please enjoy the many photos and bits of information provided throughout our website. 
We welcome your comments, questions, interests and concerns.

December 28, 2017
Winter view of the chimney for the historic Bear Hole restaurant  
A summer restaurant, farms & homesteads, mills, quarry and railroad are part of Bear Hole's rich local history

Bear Hole Watershed ordinances, effective September 2014:  BH Ordinances 2014.pdf
West Springfield Parks and Recreation Dept, park regulations:  Park regulations.pdf  

Please Take Notice for all Wooded Areas…hiker & recreational safety
  Hunting seasons listed below - take note of what's currently active. Source: MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
* Deer season: Archery - October 16 thru November 25, 2017 - season closed
* Deer Season: Shotgun - November 27, 2017 to December 9, 2017 -season closed
* Deer Season: Primitive Firearms- December 11 to December 30, 2017 - season closed
* Coyote season: October 14, 2017 thru March 8, 2017 - season open
* Wild Turkey:  Fall season October 23 to November, 4, 2017 - season closed
* Black Bear:  September 5 thru Sept 23, then Nov 6 to 25, and Nov 27 to Dec 9, 2017 -season closed

Hunting on any land owned by West Springfield is illegal. 
This includes all town owned acreage on East Mountain.
When enjoying the woods during hunting season, it is wise to wear safety colors such as blaze orange or fluorescent colors.
Dogs should also be protected by wearing a high quality safety vest.  Click this link for more info:  

  If you find evidence of hunting activity in Bear Hole or Mittineague Park, please take a photo or video and forward it to us so it can be forwarded to the proper town officials. 

Some bear, deer, coyotes and other animals may have ear tags or radio collars.  It is illegal to harvest them.  If you find or take one of these animals, contact the MA Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Headquarters:     508-389-6300 immediately.  You will be asked for information that will help biologists determine the source and status of these animals AND you will be asked to return the monitoring device (collar or tag) to the state.

Black Bears are active 
Black Bear do utilize Bear Hole Watershed and to a much less extent, the wooded areas of Mittineague Park.
Take notice of your surroundings when on trails.  If you encounter a bear, don't run!  Make lots of sound
and raise your arms to make yourself appear intimidating.  click here for Black Bear info

Environmental fun fact!….
A century ago there were fewer than 1,000 white-tailed deer and perhaps 20 black bear in Massachusetts.
Today, the Massachusetts deer herd exceeds 90,000 animals and there are over 4,000 black bears in the state.
source:  Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 2014.
Many people are afraid of Black Bear.  If you give them space, they'll usually return the favor.
Unlike grizzly bears, black bears seldom attack humans.  According to the National Center for Statistics, 1980-1983, for every death caused by a black bear, 17 deaths are caused by spiders, 25 deaths caused by/from snakes, 67 deaths from dogs and 180 deaths from wasps and bees.  On average, fewer than three people are killed every year by the more than 650,000 black bears in America.  Surprisingly, black bear mothers rarely physically attack humans when defending their cubs

Please recreate responsibly within Bear Hole and Mittineague Park. 

By respecting these lands you will help ensure what we have today, will be here to enjoy tomorrow.  If you abuse, you may lose it.

Check out what we did in 2012 thru 2016:  2012 Year in Review    2013 Year in Review
                                2014 Year in Review: March thru December    2016 Year in Review  
(use the "what's happening" link above for the most current happenings)

 In The News updated September 6, 2017 most current at bottom ~ click on a link below:

We have lots of hopes and ideas to pursue in 2017. 

Please consider getting involved, even if it's just once or twice.


Please remember - leave only footprints -

The watershed area is part of an active, back-up public water supply


Passive recreation within Bear Hole and Mittineague Park is strongly encouraged.

The Town of West Springfield is very fortunate to have these two open areas encompassing

over 1,900 acres.  Most communities aren't so fortunate.


None of Nature's landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild. - 

Our National Parks, (1901). 


    Photo taken August 10, 2009

    One of the many scenic trails in Bear Hole



    Photo taken August 10, 2009

    Paucatuck Brook flowing to the reservoir




    Photo taken August 10, 2009

    Picturesque photo of Bear Hole's forest


    This forest supports an array of wildlife and fauna.  Passive recreation in the watershed is

    encouraged.  Suggested activities include, but aren't limited to hiking, biking, running,

    environmental exploration, nature watching and dog walking.  Hunting is not permitted.