On September 4, 2001, Environmental Affairs Secretary Bob Durand and Senator Marc Pacheco announced the creation of a new initiative, the Heritage River Program, aimed at celebrating and building upon the rich heritage surrounding the rivers of the Commonwealth.
The program complements and supports ongoing efforts to protect the ecological health of river systems by concentrating on historical, recreational and cultural assets of the Rivers of the Commonwealth. Begun as a partnership with the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, the Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement, the program is spearheaded by the Riverways Programs.
The Heritage Rivers Program expands the ongoing efforts of agencies, communities and local groups. The heart of the Heritage River Program will be on rivers as they flow through time, focusing on the changing uses of our rivers and the ever-changing relationships between rivers and people. This new initiative will promote the examination of downtown and hometown rivers as a force in reclaiming the character of a community and using the past to help build a strong and livable future.
The goals of the program are to:
The program is being piloted in the Taunton River Watershed through the Taunton Heritage River Program. Realizing that each watershed is unique, the pilot was created to meet the special characteristics of the Taunton River Watershed. The components of this pilot program include:(1) a small grants program, administered by the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) designed to promote work to restore or create recreational access, protect historic landscapes, promote environmental protection, and encourage eco-tourism.
(2) the appointment of a locally based steering committee and a technical review committee
(3) the creation of a map/brochure that will show both residents and tourists the significant sites along the river
(4) the development of a logo/signage system based on a local design charette
(5) the establishment of criteria for future Massachusetts Heritage Rivers.
Taunton Heritage River Program Visioning Workshop at the Bristol Agi School held on Saturday March 16-
more information on the Taunton Heritage River Pilot Program call Marijoan Bull,
Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) at
508-824-1367 or Joan Kimball, Director, Riverways Program, Department of Fisheries,
Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement at
617-626-1544 or email:
Weir Park Taunton, MA $15,000
the support of the Taunton Heritage River Program, the WEIR Corporation will
be able to undertake Phase II of the Weir Riverfront Park. Working cooperatively
with the City of Taunton and the Taunton Conservation Commission, the WEIR
Corporation will use the funds to build on its successful urban revitalization
work. Phase II will extend the river-front park, adding additional pathway
and a viewing area at the river’s edge. Interpretive plaques will acknowledge
the area’s rich connections to the river and its industrial heritage. This
continues the successful work of Phase I that turned vacant trash-strewn lots
into a place for walking, picnicking and boating. This project highlights
the Taunton River as a resource for recreation and a focus of economic revitalization.
Titicut Conservation Area, Bridgewater MA $ 8,000
The Bridgewater Conservation Commission has joined with the Natural Resources Trust, a non-profit land trust, to develop a stewardship plan for conservation lands, including the 32 acre Titicut Conservation Area. The Taunton Heritage River award will be used to hire a professional consultant to prepare a plan for the site that balances the recreational use of this property with protection of its historical resources. Located along the upper Taunton River the site includes a boat launching area, white-pine campground area and a looped trail system. It is also a significant historical resource with ties to Native American settlement and the shipbuilding industry of the early 1800’s. The grant funds will pay for benches, signage, and low-impact camping facilities to service the many scouting groups and local canoeists that visit the Titicut Conservation Area.
Heritage Park Raynham MA $15,000
In its Master Plan, the Town of Raynham commits to improving the recreational use of the Taunton River. With this $15,000 the Town will upgrade a rough launching area that is used by canoers and kayakers. A nearly 1.5 acre riverfront parcel will be deeded by a private land-owner to the Town, and when combined with abutting Town owned land, developed into a full riverfront park. The non-profit conservation group, The Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, has agreed to assist the Town with the deed transfer. The first phase will involve stabilizing the bank area and constructing a safe put-in/take-out. Designs produced by the National Park Service will be refined and future plans include the development of trails, interpretive signage and picnicking areas.
Oliver Mills Park Middelborough MA $4,000
The Taunton Heritage River Program will enable the Herring Fishery Commission to further its goal of educating the many visitors to the herring runs in the communities of Middleborough and Lakeville. A sturdy and handsome informational kiosk will be constructed using volunteer labor and materials funded by the Taunton Heritage River Program. The kiosk will present information on the life cycle of the herring, historical heritage of the Oliver Mills site, and the natural resource value of the park. This organization has a strong track-record of successful projects and high quality maintenance.
Hathaway Park, Freetown MA $5,000
The Town of Freetown will use this award to enhance residents’ ability to enjoy the natural beauty of the shoreline along Assonet Bay. The bay is an inlet from the Taunton River that provides boaters with access to the scenic Assonet River. The Town will hire an engineer to design a handicapped accessible boardwalk at the shoreline edge. Walking along the boardwalk, visitors will get views to the Taunton River and a new appreciation for the natural beauty of the area. Interpretive signage will add to the experience, educating visitors about the natural habitat and the significance of the site to Native Americans.
Fall River, MA $14,300
In order to re-connect urban residents to the Taunton River, Green Futures will conduct an educational program that draws from the arts, history, and recreation. Since its inception in 1995, this non-profit environmental advocacy group has actively worked to raise the awareness of the Taunton River for residents in communities from Fall River north to Taunton. With this funding Green Futures will run narrated river-boat and walking tours that focus on the cultural and natural resources of the river. The public will be invited to participate in a photo contest and exhibit, and a teaching guide highlighting river resources, will be developed. The mixed-media approach, including cable TV programming, will reach a broad audience and promote connections between river-front communities.
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