Natural Resources Planning

About

The Natural Resources Planning projects conducted by FRCOG staff typically focus on assessing a particular resource and developing a multi-pronged approach to protecting it. Examples of projects include river corridor assessment and mapping, and habitat assessments, inventory and analysis of potential sources of pollution in a watershed, watershed management plans and groundwater protection bylaws. Other projects focus on innovative technologies and techniques that mitigate impacts to resource areas, particularly water resources. Examples of projects include river restoration and flood mitigation projects, and planning and implementation of stormwater management and climate change adaptation projects. Natural Resources Planning projects promote sustainable land use practices and raise public awareness of the importance of protecting Franklin County’s “Green Infrastructure”. FRCOG staff also provide computerized data analysis and mapping using Geographic Information Systems technology. This planning work is funded primarily through Federal and State grants.

Current Projects

Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development

Check out our Green Infrastructure and LID projects here.

Reducing Stormwater Pollution in the Western Millers River Watershed with Low Impact Development (LID)

automobile-runoff-stormwater

Stormwater runoff is the #1 cause of water pollution in Massachusetts and the rest of New England.

The Millers River Watershed in Franklin County includes all or portions of 7 towns. The watershed is primarily rural except for the towns of Orange and Montague. Most of the impervious surface area (roads, buildings, sidewalks, parking lots) is in these two towns.  As it flows over these areas, stormwater runoff collects animal waste, litter, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, oil & grease, soil, and other potential pollutants before it flows into storm drains that empty into the Millers River.  The FRCOG was awarded a s.319 Nonpoint Source Pollution grant from the MassDEP to work with watershed towns to identify ways to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff and protect sensitive watershed areas.

LID treats stormwater as a resource not a waste product.  LID techniques preserve and recreate natural landscape features at a development site, using rain gardens, vegetated rooftops, rain barrels and permeable pavements to treat runoff and return it to the ground or a stormwater collection system. This project produced a series of LID white papers; three workshops to introduce local officials and residents to LID, and a field trip to view LID installations in Franklin County – see the field trip briefing. By implementing LID practices, stormwater can be managed in a way that reduces the impact of built areas and promotes the natural movement of water within a watershed.  See also Green Infrastructure.  For more information, contact Kimberly Noake MacPhee, P.G. at kmacphee@frcog.org or 413-774-3167.

South River Corridor Mapping: Redefining Our River Corridors

History tells the story of prosperous Franklin County towns settled along rivers. Residents used the rivers as a source of food, water, transportation and power.  The benefits of the rivers far exceeded the risk of damage to homes and businesses from floods.  People erected dams to power mills, and straightened and channelized rivers to accommodate homes, agriculture and businesses.  Fast forward to the present time and flood damages are the legacy of historic manipulations of the river and current efforts to repair flood damage.
Read more about the South River corridor mapping project >>

River Restoration & Sediment Management for the South River in Conway, MA

With funding from the MassDEP’s s.319 grant program that leverages $100,000 provided by the Town of Conway’s Community Preservation Act Fund, FRCOG is helping the town build a priority restoration project on the South River. This project was identified in a MassDEP 604b-funded fluvial geomorphic and habitat assessment project for the South River watershed completed by the FRCOG in 2013.

The project combines bank stabilization measures and the reconnection of the river to a portion of its abandoned floodplain to increase sediment storage and reduce flood flow velocities.   Improving access to floodplains is an increasingly important component of river management efforts that are focused on reducing flood damages and restoring ecological complexity along rivers heavily impacted by past human land use.  Project construction is underway and should be completed by October 1, 2016.  Click here to see the plans. For more information, contact Kimberly Noake MacPhee, P.G. at kmacphee@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x130.

FERC Relicensing of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage and Turners Falls Dam Hydroelectric Projects

FERC erosion picture

Impacts from hydroelectric projects include decades of severe bank erosion that results in the loss of prime farmland and habitat for rare and endangered species.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses for five hydroelectric projects on the Connecticut River expire in 2018. Two projects are located in Franklin County – the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project and Turners Falls Project.  A FERC license outlines the conditions under which the project can operate and includes requirements to protect, mitigate, or enhance environmental resources impacted by the project. The FERC licenses will be valid for 30-50 years.  The FRCOG’s Connecticut River Streambank Erosion Committee (CRSEC) is actively involved in the relicensing process, reviewing reports and submitting comments to FERC.  CRSEC is concerned about the decades of severe bank erosion that results in the loss of prime farmland and habitat for rare and endangered species.  For more information, contact Kimberly Noake MacPhee at kmacphee@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x130.

To learn more about the FERC relicensing process go to http://www.ferc.gov.   To access background information, reports and a relicensing schedule for the hydro projects in Franklin County, visit http://www.northfieldrelicensing.com. For information on FRCOG’s projects to address bank erosion go to http://www.restoreconnriver.org.