Newburyport Storm Surge kicks-off its annual Speakers Series at Cashman Park

Monday May 17, 2021

Storm Surge will kick-off its annual Speakers Series on Tuesday, May 25 with an outdoor presentation at 7 pm at Cashman Park titled Our Reservoir at Risk: The Merrimack and the Artichoke. This local group, focused on the impacts of climate change locally, has organized eight monthly programs to share the Newburyport Climate Resiliency Plan with the community. The summer programs will be held on the park’s softball field.
John Macone, Policy and Education Specialist at the Merrimack River Watershed Council, will be the main speaker for the event. There will be two panelists on hand to participate in a post-presentation discussion: Jen Hughes, Environmental Program Manager at the Merrimack Valley Planning Commision and Jill Carr, Coastal Data Scientist at the MassBays National Estuary Partnership. Macone will speak first and then facilitate a discussion for questions to be answered by the panel.

Macone will begin his discussion with an overview of the climate changes we are experiencing on the North Shore. “We are starting to see the extremes of how climate change is impacting the Merrimack River Valley. The New England we grew up in won’t be here for much longer. We are having more droughts punctuated by heavy downpours, more native trees damaged or destroyed, new pollution threats to rivers, water reservoirs overtaxed by heavy use, the disappearance of animal and plant species that have long lived here, and an infusion of new species that are causing some fundamental changes to our local environment.”

Then, Macone will explain how current pollution patterns in the Merrimack will change in the future and provide insight on how our drinking water will be impacted. Before concluding his presentation, Macone will share what can be done to protect the river and our water supply, and how land conservation upriver, regional drought and flood management initiatives for CSO reduction and public alert initiatives will help our community adapt to climate changes.

Mike Morris, the former Chairperson of Storm Surge and Co-chair and lead author of the Plan will introduce Macone who joined the Merrimack River Watershed Council in November 2017. He spent twenty-five years working as a journalist, most recently as editor of the Daily News of Newburyport. In 2009 he won a national award from the Inland Press Association for an eight-part series on erosion issues facing Plum Island and Salisbury Beach. Prior to working at the Daily News, John was a reporter, and later city editor, at The Eagle-Tribune.

Immediately following Macone’s presentation, the forum will open up for questions from the public. Attendees can submit their questions to Macone or one of the panelists in advance by email to

Panelist Jill Carr specializes in the development of monitoring programs that track changes to water quality and coastal habitats throughout the MassBays’ planning area from Salisbury to Provincetown. As a resident of the Merrimack River watershed, Carr is keenly interested in the effects of climate change on our natural and built environment. Panelist Jennifer Hughes has an extensive background in wetlands and conservation. Prior to joining MVPC she was the Conservation Administrator for the Town of North Andover from 2008 through 2019 with experience in wetland, stormwater, and open space management.

The Newburyport Parks Department is co-sponsoring this and other monthly Speaker Series events to follow this summer. Please bring a chair or a blanket. Lisë Reid, City Parks Director, suggests attendees come early to the venue and enjoy a picnic dinner.

In order to comply with state COVID-19 mandates, all attendees will need to register for the event and social distance. When you register, you will receive additional information about parking. Members of Storm Surge and Extinction Rebellion Newburyport will be on hand to help visitors check-in and find.

A rain date has been planned for 7 pm, Thursday, May 27 at Cashman Park.

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