Wild & Scenic River Study Committee April 10, 2002
Bridgewater Academy Building
Committee Chairman Jim Ross called the April 2002 meeting of the Taunton River Wild and Scenic Study Committee to order at approximately 7:00 PM.
Committee members attending: Frank Bibbins, Kitty Doherty,
Tricia Cassady, Bridgewater, Jack Traynor, Halifax Francis Pereira, Bill Taylor,
Middleboro, Ray Brierly, Steve Cote, Bob Davis, Burke Fountain, Jim Ross, Raynham
Aria Brissette, Jasmine Tanguay, Taunton, Jamie Fosburg, National Park Service,
Maisy McDarby-Stanovich, SRPEDD, Pat Rogers, EOEA Taunton River Basin Team Leader, Joan Kimball, DEM Riverways Program, Scott MacFaden, Wildlands Trust
Also attending was Chris Simmons of Dighton, a representative of the Lower Taunton River Working Group (see Agenda Item #2 below).
Review of Agenda Items Discussed
1 (1) Minutes for the previous committee meeting on March 13 were approved with no discussion.
2 (2) Introduction of Lower Taunton River Working Group Representative: Chairman Ross and Pat Rogers introduced Chris Simmons, a Dighton resident who is a member of the Lower Taunton River Working Group, a recently formed entity created to study the possibility of pursuing Wild and Scenic designation for the lower Taunton. Chris' primary purpose for attending the Wild and Scenic meeting is to gain insight into the Wild and Scenic study process.
3 (3) Overview of Federal and State Programs Active on the Taunton River: Jamie Fosburgh provided a brief overview of National Park Service involvement with the river, which began with a riverfront project in Raynham and has continued with the Wild and Scenic study.
4 Pat Rogers offered a summary of the Watershed Team's efforts across the state and within the Taunton River watershed.
5 Joan Kimball of DEM's Riverways Program discussed the Taunton River Heritage Program, detailing its origins as a grant program conceived by Senator Marc Pacheco for which the Taunton River would serve as the pilot for the program. As currently structured, the Heritage River Program has two phases, a small grants round offered last fall and a Visioning Workshop designed to help facilitate a marketing logo for the river.
6 Two other river-related endeavors received mention, the Taunton River Stewardship Program and the Taunton River Watershed Alliance. The Stewardship Program was formed six years ago to promote the preservation of the upper Taunton River corridor as an intact resource, and includes representatives from the five communities in the Wild and Scenic Study area and from SRPEDD, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, TRWA, and The Wildlands Trust. The Program's efforts have helped to directly or indirectly facilitate the protection of almost 600 acres of land along the Taunton River system since its inception.
7 The Taunton River Watershed Alliance concentrates its efforts on outreach and advocacy, which includes sponsoring river action focus teams, clean-ups, canoe races, and water quality monitoring teams.
8 (4). Sub-Committee Updates: Maisy McDarby reported on behalf of the Website Subcommittee, and indicated that the website was proceeding toward completion and should be done by the end of April. Remaining tasks include developing a strategy on how to market the site and how to make optimum use of links to other sites. Among the site's many currently available features is a posting of the minutes for each Wild and Scenic Committee meeting. The website subcommittee will schedule its next meeting as soon as possible, location and time to be determined.
9 Aria Brissette offered a synopsis of the most recent GIS Subcommittee meeting. The subcommittee has compiled paper copies of assessors maps for Taunton and Halifax, whereas Raynham expects to have its parcel data completed soon. For Bridgewater, the issue is the imminent end of the town's contract with its GIS subcontractor-it is unclear as to who will carry forward with the town's GIS work. The GIS subcommittee will make a presentation summarizing the status of all GIS issues to the Wild and Scenic Committee at one of the next three full committee meetings.
10 Chairman Ross reminded the committee that two defined but as yet inactive subcommittees, the Landowner Subcommittee and the Natural Resources Subcommittee, should schedule meetings as soon as possible. The task of scheduling these meetings, and with organizing and staffing a Recreation Subcommittee, was delegated to Bill Napolitano.
11 (5). Update on BioDiversity Days Speaker: A representative of the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program will make a presentation on May 15 at Middleboro Town Hall, time to be determined. This presentation will occur several weeks prior to and be in support of "Biodiversity Days", an ongoing state effort to facilitate public interest in and support for protecting our state's biodiversity. This presentation will occur in place of the monthly Wild and Scenic Committee meeting, and all members are encouraged to attend.
12 (6). Presentation by Town Reps. on Tributaries: Since the inception of the Wild and Scenic study, considerable interest has been evidenced in evaluating the Taunton River's major tributaries for inclusion in the study. Jamie Fosburgh explained the Park Service's criteria for evaluating tributaries, which includes assessments of their cultural, historical, recreational, geological, aesthetic, and wildlife habitat values, and also addresses the question of whether the tributaries' inclusion in the study is critical to the mainstem designation. Committee members from Halifax, Bridgewater, Middleboro, and Raynham nominated tributaries in their towns for potential inclusion in the study, summaries of which appear below.
13 · Halifax: Jack Traynor nominated the Winnetuxet River, and read a prepared statement in support of this nomination that referenced the Winnetuxet's scenic, historical, archaeological, and wildlife habitat values. It was also noted that a significant core of protected conservation land along the lower Winnetuxet has been established.
14 · Bridgewater: Kitty Doherty spoke in favor of nominating the Town River, which originates in the Hockomock Swamp and flows for over 14 miles to its confluence with the Matfield. Four public parks currently exist along the Town, including three in Bridgewater and one in West Bridgewater.
15 · Middleboro: Pat Rogers nominated the Nemasket River, which rises from Assawompsett Pond in Middleboro and Lakeville. The Nemasket's features include a high-quality herring run, a soon to be restored Oliver Mill Park, and several publicly owned parcels along its scenic lower reaches.
16 · Raynham: Although Bassett Brook and Damlot Brook were mentioned as possible candidates, Raynham's delegation seemed to coalesce in favor of nominating the Forge River. Numerous rare and endangered species occur along the Forge, and its lower reaches have historical significance, as one of, if not the first, ironworks ever built in colonial America was located along its banks.
17 The Taunton delegation offered several tributaries as potentially worthy of nomination, including the Three-Mile, Furnace, and Cotley, but did not formally nominate any of these.
18 Following these nominations, discussion ensued about the merits of including tributaries in the study, and the concern was expressed that doing so would dramatically expand the scope of the initial study, and perhaps divert energy and resources from the original purpose of studying the mainstem of the Taunton. Jamie F. emphasized that several options are available short of including the tribs. in the study, such as including them in the river management and conservation plan.
19 Following Joan Kimball's suggestion, those who nominated each tributary will schedule trips to obtain more information, and will report back to the full committee at the next regular meeting.
20 (7). New Business: Ray Brierly, Maisy M, and Bill N. have discussed inviting a Native American onto the full committee. Although the committee structure and staffing has already been established, it was unanimously voted to invite Dave Garcia to attend all committee meetings.
The meeting adjourned shortly after 9:00 P.M.
Scott MacFaden Secretary,
Taunton River Wild and Scenic River Study Committee