The future of the Upper Taunton depends on hundreds of riverfront landowners who care about the river. Join with us to ensure protection of this beautiful landscape.

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Page Credits:
Taunton River Stewardship Program and the Wildland Trust of SE Mass

The Upper Taunton River Study AreaClick on Image for Full Map (size 139kb)

The Upper Taunton River Greenway, the focus of the Wild and Scenic Study, stretches for 22-1/2 miles from the confluence of the Town and the Matfield Rivers in the Massachusetts town of Bridgewater to where the Forge River meets the Taunton River near the Taunton/Raynham town lines.



Photo Credits:
Greig Cranna-Photographer, Mass GIS for the study map, Bill Taylor- local historian, and the 1998 Rivers and Trails Brochure.

History of Land Development along the Upper Taunton River

The Taunton River was the lifeblood of those who lived near the river. The Native American people used the river for thousands of years. It was their highway, food source, and water supply.

Early European settlers farmed riverfront lands and small settlements in areas where river access encouraged mill development. These mill villages later evolved into the cities of Taunton and Fall River.

Above the City of Taunton, riverfront lands were largely bypassed by industrial-era development that transformed most southern New England rivers. Even following World War II, as eastern Massachusetts was suburbanized, most towns along the Upper Taunton River remained relatively rural.

Unlike communities north and west of Boston, limited transportation access preserved this relatively pristine and scenic river corridor, until now.


Summary of Existing Development along the Upper Taunton River

The Upper Taunton River is one of the most unprotected areas in southern New England. Total protected land along the 22-1/2 mile length of the Upper Taunton River is 556 acres in the towns of Bridgewater, Halifax and Middleborough.

The pristine natural beauty of the small towns within the Taunton River watershed are at risk for development. They are a sought-after commodity. Improved access to each of our river communities from new roads and rail lines is ushering in a new era of rapid growth, which may forever change the Upper Taunton River and its tributaries.
This is a critical time to protect the lands along this pristine urban river.

As greater efforts are being made to acquire open space by towns butting the river, by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and by conservation organizations, a potential for long term protection of the Upper Taunton River may be realized.

The Wild and Scenic Study will assist in this effort and allow a managed approach to the need for local awareness of this noble cause. Please read about existing land use on our web site as well as a summary of existing protected lands, for more information about how properties are currently developed along the Upper Taunton River. Also take a moment to see what you can do to help protect our river in other areas of the Public Outreach section as well as the protection of your own property through information that follows.



Summary of Land Protection Options for Property Owners Along the Upper Taunton River

Owners of riverfront land have many land protection options that can provide significant financial benefits as well protect the beauty of the river corridor. Based upon individual goals and property characteristics, landowners can find an option to suit their needs.


Following are several ways to protect riverfront land:

  • Gifts of Land: to the Wildlands Trust, the Natural Resources Trust of Bridgewater, or other land trusts provide considerable estate, income, and property tax benefits while forever preserving your land and property.
  • Conservation Restrictions (C.R.): enable the landowner to retain ownership and use of a property (including the ability to sell or transfer the land at any time), with limitations on development, while providing significant tax benefits.
  • Limited Development: allows some development on a property while preserving a parcel's most critical scenic and natural resource areas.
  • Fair Market Value: purchase of properties by the state or conservation organizations is a potential option for owners of properties with exceptional habitat and/or recreational values.
  • Agricultural Preservation Restrictions (A.P.R.): preserve prime farmland through the purchase of development rights (by the state) allowing farmers to continue to farm while also receiving a significant economic return. Recreation and Forestry APR's are also possible.



Who Can I Contact?

The following organizations are dedicated to the protection of open space in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and in particular southeastern Massachusetts.


For general assistance on where to go from here, please contact Bill Napolitano at SRPEDD. The Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District is the coordinating agency for the Upper Taunton River Wild and Scenic Rivers Program. SRPEDD is a Regional Planning Agency created in 1968 under Massachusetts state law, Chapter 40B, Sections 9-19.

(Southeastern Regional Planning &
Economic Development District)
Environmental Program Director
Bill Napolitano

88 Broadway
Taunton, MA 02780

(T) 508-824-1367 (x231)
(F) 508-823-1803


The Taunton River Stewardship Program focuses on protecting land along the upper Taunton River and its tributaries. TRSP was formed in 1996.The Stewardship Program is a collaborative effort of involved riverfront landowners, local citizens, business people, community planners, elected representatives, conservation agents and land trust professionals. As development pressures increase in river communities, riverfront landowners may feel the only long-term choice for their property is to sell their land for development. TRSP can provide individual landowners with information on the conservation and financial benefits of various land protection methods. TRSP also works with, and on the behalf of, local communities to coordinate and encourage collaborative preservation of riverfront lands.

Taunton River Stewardship Program
c/o The Wildlands Trust
Scott MacFaden
P.O. Box 2282
Duxbury, MA 02331

(T) 781-934-9018


A land trust is a regional or local non-profit organization that is directly involved in protecting land for its natural, scenic, recreational, historic, or productive value, such as family farming. Citizens of Bridgewater have formed the Natural Resources Trust of Bridgewater as a land trust, in order to promote the conservation of land in Bridgewater and adjoining communities. NRTB's Mission: "The Natural Resources Trust of Bridgewater shall work to acquire and preserve the natural resources and wildlife in the Town of Bridgewater and abutting communities. We shall strive to maintain the rural character and charm of the towns, protect the river corridor and wetland areas, preserve open space and wildlife habitat, and provide for recreational areas. The Trust will operate in harmony with each town's Open Space and Recreation Plan."

Natural Resource Trust of Bridgewater
Katherine Doherty
P.O. Box 15
Bridgewater, MA 02324

(T) 508-697-7317


The Wildlands Trust is a private nonprofit land trust that actively seeks to permanently protect land with significant natural and scenic resource value using techniques such as land donations, conservation restrictions (also known as conservation easements), trade lands, and other conservation methods. The Trust has geared up and developed professional tools and partnerships to save land, assist landowners, and protect the character of our towns. The Trust now owns or holds conservation restrictions on more than 100 properties, protecting over 3,000 acres of land in 21 communities.

The Wildlands Trust
Scott MacFaden
P.O. Box 2282
Duxbury, MA 02331

(T) 781-934-9018
(F) 781-934-8110


As the state agencies charged with protecting plant and animal species of the commonwealth, the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Environmental Law Enforcement and the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife are working to identify the most integrity of habitat areas across the state. Our primary mission is to protect the ecological integrity of the biological resources of the Commonwealth. we seek to assure biological diversity by acquiring the most fish and wildlife habitat and natural communities. All lands we now own are open for appropriate recreational use. This program also acquires land to provide access to the lands and waters of the Commonwealth

Joan Pierce
195 Bournedale
Bourne, MA 02532

(T) 508-743-9066
(F) 508-759-0381