“Far too often when we talk about preparing for climate change, we focus on buildings and infrastructure and we leave out the people,” said Patrick Herron, executive director of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA). In that light, he announced that Melanie Gárate is joining our staff to help integrate public-health and social-resilience best practices into community preparedness efforts.

Mystic River logo

Gárate’s position was created as part of the $1.3 million in funding that MyRWA has helped secure for regional climate-resilience efforts through the 16-community Resilient Mystic Collaborative. As climate resilience project manager, she will work closely with public health departments, service providers and community leaders to help municipalities identify priority actions and investments to protect people’s health, housing and ability to work during and after heat waves and big storms.

As part of these efforts, she will also work with MyRWA’s Greenways director to increase community engagement in designing waterfront parks and paths to help people stay cool in the summer and provide safe, beautiful, active transportation opportunities.

“I am excited and humbled to join MyWRA in this capacity,” said Gárate. “I look forward to using my research background and lived experience as a Chilean-American immigrant to help incorporate the values and needs of those who typically do not have a seat at the table into our collective efforts to prepare the Mystic for climate change.”

Gárate is an experienced marine ecologist and educator with a bachelor's degree in environmental, earth and ocean sciences from UMass/Boston and a master's in marine ecology and climate change from the University of Rhode Island.

Fluent in both Spanish and English, she received a National Science Foundation Research Fellowship to study mangrove ecology in Puerto Rico. As an educator with the New England Aquarium and Mass Audubon, she taught environmental education and conservation science in both Spanish and English to students and families.

Convened in September 2018 by MyRWA, the Consensus Building Institute, and ten founding communities, the Resilient Mystic Collaborative focuses on:

  • Managing stormwater flooding and water quality on a watershed level;
  • Storm-hardening critical energy, transportation, food and wastewater infrastructure in the Lower Mystic, including Logan Airport; MBTA Blue, Orange and Commuter Rail lines; Deer Island wastewater facility; the Amelia Earhart Dam and the New England Produce Center; and
  • Increasing the resilience of vulnerable residents during and after extreme weather events.

The RMC now includes 16 of 21 communities (Arlington, Boston, Burlington, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Lexington, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Somerville, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Winthrop and Woburn) and over 85 percent of the land base in the Mystic River Watershed. It includes nonprofit and private-sector partners as content experts, with municipal planners and engineers serving as the group’s voting members. All Mystic Watershed municipalities are welcome to participate.

The Mystic River Watershed Association works every day to protect our water, restore important habitat, transform our parks and paths, build climate resilience, and inspire youth and community members. This benefits the more than half million residents throughout the 76 square mile watershed.

For more information, see www.MysticRiver.org.


 This news announcement was published Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019.