The Connecticut River is an important natural resource that defines our Valley. It’s also a recreation area for communities throughout our region. Across from Mitch’s Marina in Hadley is Mitch’s Island, a popular spot for boaters. A portion of this island is owned by Kestrel Land Trust. The rest is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation and several private landowners.
While recreational use of the Connecticut River has increased over the past several years, so has some unsafe and irresponsible behavior on the river, as well as on Mitch’s Island itself. Kestrel has received reports of disruptive behavior on the island, including long-term camping and leaving trash, and we have documented those conditions through visits to the island.
What is Kestrel doing to improve the situation?
Kestrel is working with state and town officials and other organizations to address the health and safety issues resulting from the intense use of Mitch’s Island. At this time, Kestrel’s ability to address these problems directly is limited by our partial ownership of the island. However, Kestrel is working toward a unified management solution to clarify how the public may use this island. We are also coordinating with the Environmental Police and Municipal Police (Hadley, Northampton, Easthampton) to support their enforcement efforts while the use and management questions are being resolved.
What are the police doing about the situation?
Accompanied by Kestrel staff members, five municipal and environmental police officers patrolled Mitch’s Island on July 5, and follow-up visits are planned. This season, Municipal Police and the Environmental Police are forming a mutual aid task force to enable them to do more patrols on the river. See the press release below from the Hadley Police Department.
What can I do as a user of the river?
If you see illegal behavior on the island, you can help by contacting the Environmental Police or the local police with specific information about what you have witnessed. For everyone’s safety, please do not confront individuals yourself.
You can also be a model for appropriate use of the island, removing your trash and being respectful of other users.
As the situation progresses, we will share updates here on our website as they become available. Thank you for helping to create a safer river environment for everyone.