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Meeting location: SRPEDD Offices, Taunton

Chairman Jim Ross called the June 2002 meeting of the Taunton River Wild and Scenic Study Committee to order at 7:05 PM.

Committee members in attendance:
Kitty Doherty, Bridgewater; Francis Pereira, Karen Holmes, Bill Taylor, Middleboro; Ray Brierly, Jim Ross, Raynham; Aria Brissette, Taunton; Pat Rogers, EOEA Taunton River Basin Team Leader; Joan Kimball, DEM Riverways Program; Joan Pierce, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; Bill Napolitano, SRPEDD; Scott MacFaden, Wildlands Trust.

Review of Agenda Items Discussed

Add your comment on this item1 (1) Town Updates: Committee members Kitty Doherty, Pat Rogers, and Jim Ross provided reports on upcoming events and other items of interest in their communities. In Bridgewater, Kitty reported that a public presentation on June 19 will offer the public its first look at recently created management plans for several town-owned conservation holdings, including several along the Taunton River system. Pat announced that Middleboro passed the Community Preservation Act. Jim noted that BioDiversity Days efforts in Raynham included a special focus on Forge Pond. On behalf of Taunton, Bill Napolitano reported that the city acquired a 127-acre parcel adjacent to the Boyden Wildlife Refuge, and that efforts are underway to append the Three-Mile River watershed to the Canoe River ACEC, which would expand to almost 23,000 acres.

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item2 (2) Sub-Committee Reports: Pat Rogers reported on behalf of the Recreation Subcommittee. Pat and Ray Brierly collaborated in the preparation of a scope of work for a proposed public access study for the upper Taunton. The scope includes recommendations for potential public access sites, and requests that the full Wild and Scenic Study Committee authorize the expenditure of up to $25,000 to pay for the study.

Add your comment on this item3 The proposed study received a primarily favorable response from committee members. All agreed that one of the best ways to create and maintain a supportive constituency for the river is to enable the public to get to the river, and while several access sites do currently exist on the upper Taunton, most of these could stand improvement. It also was suggested that the proposal should clarify exactly what type of craft the access sites should service-i.e. cartop boats instead of trailered boats. It was further suggested that in the interest of balance, the study should include analysis of at least one access site in each of the five communities within the study area.

Add your comment on this item4 GIS Subcommittee: Bill N. reported for this subcommittee, and noted that Maisy McDarby has completed compiling parcel information for properties along the Taunton. This will enable her to produce maps depicting the study area in greater detail, and these maps, soon to be available, will nicely augment public outreach efforts.

Add your comment on this item5 Website Subcommittee: Bill N. also reported for this subcommittee, and reported that the website continues to garner rave reviews from all who encounter it. Congressman Barney Frank has expressed interest in participating in a chatroom on the site during the summer months. Bill noted that Committee member Bob Davis, unable to attend this meeting, had requested that the full committee approve nominating the website for an "Eddy" award, a distinction bestowed by the national river advocacy group American Rivers upon river-related websites of note. The committee voted to approve the nomination.

Add your comment on this item6 The Landowners Subcommittee has encountered numerous scheduling difficulties, has yet to meet, and thus had no report to offer.

Add your comment on this item7 Natural Resources Subcommittee: Bill N. reported that he has been working with Lynn Harper of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, who has prepared a letter highlighting areas of particular natural resources interest along the upper Taunton, including major tributaries. Jim Ross requested that the full committee consider authorizing funds for a fisheries study in the future.

Add your comment on this item8 (3) Work Plan Items and Financial Allocations:

Add your comment on this item9 (a) Year-end Financials: Bill N. distributed a standard form financial report detailing the first year's expenditures. Because a grant was written for $40,000 to pay for the website, $140,000 was available for the first year of the study. $43,000 remains from this allocation, and will carry over into Year Two of the study.

Add your comment on this item10 The question of whether SRPEDD should issue financial reports on a monthly or quarterly basis was raised. It was agreed that the full committee will have the opportunity to examine financial reports at each regular meeting (i.e. all meetings that are not specifically oriented to the public at large, those involving guest speakers, etc.).

Add your comment on this item11 (b) Tributary Analysis Proposal: Joan K. and Bill N. reported on the creation of a "Tributary Strategy" that adds four tributaries, the Nemasket, Winnetuxet, Town, and Forge, to the scope of the Wild and Scenic study, but does not recommend that they receive formal consideration for Wild and Scenic designation. This strategy will develop natural resource and cultural data for the tributaries, highlight them on study area maps, and include them in the preparation of the Upper Taunton River Wild and Scenic Management Plan. This strategy thus affords these major tributaries the consideration they deserve without excessively expanding the scope of the original study. To put this in context, adding the tributaries to the mainstem already under consideration for Wild and Scenic designation would have added over 28 miles of river to the study (or six miles more than the length of the existing study area).

Add your comment on this item12 The full committee voted to approve the Tributary Strategy in concept, with a vote on funding to come at the conclusion of the meeting..

Add your comment on this item13  (c) Taunton River Heritage Proposal: Bill N. announced a proposal to adopt the Taunton Heritage River Committee, a committee currently serving to review and approve state grant monies under a pilot program for projects along the entire Taunton River, as a budgeted subcommittee of the full Wild and Scenic Study Committee. The proposal requests $10,000 for this purpose.

Add your comment on this item14 The consensus of committee members was that they needed more information before they could make an informed decision about the merits of this proposal.

Add your comment on this item15 At this point in the meeting, it was decided to formally vote on the three proposals before the committee. The results were as follows:

Add your comment on this item16 The Committee unanimously voted to authorize the expenditure of up to $25,000 to fund a Recreational Access Study.

Add your comment on this item17 The Committee unanimously voted to authorize the expenditure of $8,000 to fund the Tributary Study Strategy. This expenditure will be used as a matching grant in conjunction with $4,000 available from the Taunton River Watershed Basin Team, thereby creating a fund of $12,000 for the project.

Add your comment on this item18  The Committee voted to table the proposal seeking $10,000 for the purposes of absorbing the Taunton River Heritage Committee as a budgeted subcommittee until such time as committee members can study the proposal in greater detail.

Add your comment on this item19 Several agenda items did not receive consideration because of time constraints. Bill N. did announce that he will distribute a Year Two Timeline that was to be discussed at this meeting, and Ray Brierly raised the possibility of scheduling a canoe trip on the Taunton for committee members sometime in July, details to follow

Add your comment on this item20 It was also agreed not to schedule a full committee meeting in July, with the next meeting scheduled for Wednesday, August 14, time and location TBA.

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM.

Respectfully submitted, Scott MacFaden Secretary, Taunton River Wild and Scenic River Study Committee