Professor Richard Beinecke’s vocation lies in healthcare, but his zeal for the outdoors led him to write The Mystic River: A Natural and Human History and Recreation Guide.

The book, written in collaboration with the Mystic River Watershed Association, covers the waterways extending from the Mystic Lakes in Winchester to Charlestown and Chelsea, where the Mystic River empties into Boston Harbor.

“These waterways and the communities along them are full of history, important natural resources, and underutilized recreation resources,” writes Beinecke, who is chair of the Suffolk University Institute for Public Service.

His book is a history of the river and its communities from Winchester to Chelsea and a users’ guide to boating and other recreational opportunities, and environmental challenges.

Beinecke relates how early technology changed the river system from a stream running through marshland to a region where marshes were filled and some waterways were rerouted through underground pipes. The natural shorelines were straightened, and “mowed fields or homes replaced much of the diverse habitat.” Industry brought prosperity – and pollution.

“Something, though, has not changed. The Mystic still flows. It is different now but still has beautiful places on the river and along its shores. Paddlers are rediscovering it. More parks and walking and bike paths are being created near it. Eagles come to the Upper Mystic Lake, and gulls, cormorants, and black-crowned night heron feed on the growing number of alewives that arrive each spring. Serious efforts are under way to clean up the water. Organizations are joining together, understanding that working together they can do much more than going at problems alone.”

Beinecke has served in clinical and administrative positions in the mental health and health fields and taught and conducted research in these fields. He is a kayaker, biker, birder and fisherman who has led history kayak trips on the Mystic, Concord, Assabet and Sudbury rivers. This fall and next spring he is making presentations based on the book in the region, including a talk during Suffolk’s Homecoming Weekend.

Robert Allison of Suffolk’s History Department wrote the introduction to the book, which is available in print and e-versions on Amazon. More information and updates are available on The Mystic River: A Natural and Human History and Recreation Guide website.