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River Commission hires project manager with Wild and Scenic funds

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CORNWALL—The Housatonic River Commission has hired Madeline Scherff as its project manager to manage requests for proposals and contracts to disburse Wild and Scenic funds received by the commission to implement projects included in the annual work plans. 

A view of the Housatonic River in Kent looking north from the Fuller Bridge on Route 341. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

Chairman William Tingley introduced Scherff at a special meeting of the commission Jan. 23. She is a University of Connecticut graduate who has worked for the state of Connecticut’s Wildlife Division and recently as a park manager for the state of Vermont. 

The Housatonic River Commission is a regional board composed of two representatives from the seven towns on the river from New Milford north to the border of Massachusetts. Kent’s representative is Jesse Klingebiel. There is currently an opening for the second representative from the town.

“The expansion of management that the Housatonic River Commission has experienced as we move forward with our National Park Service Wild and Scenic River designation is such that the strictly volunteer nature of the HRC was in need of professional support,” Klingebiel said Wednesday.  “We are excited to take advantage of Maddie’s experience and time to make this possible.”

The commission has received $150,000 from the National Park Service since its 2023 designation of the Housatonic River as a Wild and Scenic River. A new process for spending the federal funds requires the commission to write a scope or description of each project, to get information about contractors for the work, and to calculate costs. The commission plans to have a contract for each project in the work plan.

Scherff’s responsibilities as the project manager include developing Requests for Proposals and contracts as well as information necessary for disbursement of Wild and Scenic funds to implement projects. She will also be the liaison between the commission and contractors hired for the projects, administer the commission’s communications, including websites, social media and other public outreach, and support the commission’s administrative assistant responsible for meeting announcements, agendas and meeting minutes.

The position is shared with the Housatonic Valley Association and Scherff is a full-time employee of HVA, with 50 percent of her time to be spent working as a contractor for the commission. Her part-time commission salary is funded through Wild and Scenic funds. 

The commission also agreed in January to sign an agreement with the Cornwall Conservation Trust to rent office space at 7 Railroad Square in West Cornwall for $205 for the remainder of the year. The group previously met at Cornwall Consolidated School.

The commission is working on the following projects: Invasive plant management; and an update of the River Management Plan; Visitor Use Management (HVA’s River Information and Outreach program that educates visitors at river access points about safety and responsible use of the river); the Ruggles Landing Site Plan in Canaan; stormwater/stream crossing surveys; signage at various locations identifying the river as a Wild and Scenic River; website improvements; an access survey and recommendations, including a listing of property owners along the 41 miles of the river and formal and informal access sites; and educational programs.

Lynn Worthington
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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Karen Kalil

    February 16, 2024 at 1:00 am

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Well written!

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