Natural Resources Planning


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 the 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 or Recent Projects


Regional Pollinator Plan

Native pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, bats, and hummingbirds, and are considered “keystone species” in an ecosystem. Pollinators are critical to the health and climate resiliency of ecosystems. Pollinators are threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, pesticides, disease, and parasites.

With funding from an Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Planning grant, the FRCOG worked with Greenfield, Heath, Shelburne, Conway, Bernardston, Montague, Wendell, and Orange to develop a Regional Pollinator Plan. The project included developing a map of pollinator habitats and potential connections; recommending ways that communities can amend land use regulations to better support pollinator habitats through native plantings and pollinator-friendly landscape management practices, and creating a Pollinator Habitat Corridor Implementation Toolkit. The plan is expandable – with additional funding and interest from other Franklin County towns, regional pollinator corridors can be expanded across the county. Local-level strategies such as these are critically needed to respond to climate change, habitat loss, and declining populations of wild, native pollinator species. The sustainability of our local ecosystems, farms, and food systems is linked to pollinators. For more information, contact Kimberly Noake MacPhee at or 413-774-31667 x 130.

Pollinator Plan Map
Regional Pollinator Action Plan for Franklin County
Regional Pollinator Habitat Corridor Implementation Toolkit (This is a large file available for download via Dropbox)
Bernardston Pollinator Action Plan
Conway Pollinator Action Plan
Greenfield Pollinator Action Plan
Heath Pollinator Action Plan
Montague Pollinator Action Plan
Orange Pollinator Action Plan
Shelburne Pollinator Action Plan
Wendell Pollinator Action Plan


Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan for Franklin County

Managing stormwater runoff is increasingly difficult with climate change and the more frequent and intense storm events we are experiencing. Sustainable stormwater management utilizes Best Management Practices (BMPs) that capture, clean, and store water on site, close to where it falls, and in doing so, effectively reduce runoff and improve water quality.  Stormwater management practices in a rural area like Franklin County are an essential component of efforts to preserve natural resources, protect critical transportation infrastructure, and foster sustainable growth and development.

The Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan for Franklin County utilizes a screening level approach for assessing potential stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) for three common types of transportation construction projects: Downtown Revitalization, Complete Streets, and Rural Road improvement projects. FRCOG collaborated with three towns in each category, which served as stormwater pilot communities. Custom stormwater site assessments and annotated conceptual designs that illustrate the placement, layout, size and function of sustainable stormwater BMPs in two priority locations in each pilot community were developed in collaboration with town staff and highway departments.

The Plan and Technical Reports can be downloaded by clicking on the links below. Please note that the technical reports are large files may take a moment to load.

Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan for Franklin County
Stormwater Technical Report for Complete Streets Pilot Communities
Stormwater Technical Report for Downtown Revitalization Pilot Communities (Please note this is a large file and can be downloaded from Dropbox.)
Stormwater Technical Report for Rural Roads Pilot Communities 
Project ArcGIS StoryMap


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 or 413-774-3167 x130.

To learn more about the FERC relicensing process go to   To access background information, reports and a relicensing schedule for the hydro projects in Franklin County, visit For information on FRCOG’s projects to address bank erosion go to


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 or 413-774-3167 x130.


Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development

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. Check out our Green Infrastructure and LID projects here.


A Framework for Resilience

A Framework for Resilience is the first watershed-based climate change resiliency plan in the Commonwealth.  The Deerfield River Watershed includes all or a portion of fourteen Franklin County towns: Ashfield, Buckland, Bernardston, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, Monroe, Rowe, and Shelburne.    A watershed can provide a framework for understanding the interconnectedness of natural systems and the built environment as well as how climate change stressors can affect several towns simultaneously.  FRCOG’s report provides the 14 towns of the Deerfield River Watershed with information about how the climate change stressors – Changes in Precipitation, Rising Temperatures, and Extreme Weather – will likely impact three important sectors – Natural Resources & Habitat, Human Health & Welfare, and Local Economy & Infrastructure.  The recommendations described in FRCOG’s Plan were designed to be:

  • Achievable (within the power of towns and individuals to implement);
  • Address multiple climate stressors and benefit multiple sectors; and
  • Build resiliency at multiple scales (property, town, and watershed).

The reality of private land holdings and fourteen town boundaries in the Deerfield River Watershed require watershed-scale approaches to climate resiliency.  Working in partnership with their watershed neighbors, towns can build a coalition of resilience that improves not only the climate resiliency of each watershed town but over time, creates a more resilient Deerfield River Watershed.  FRCOG will be reaching out to stakeholders and convening a Resilient Deerfield River Watershed (Resilient DRW) coalition to work across town boundaries to build resiliency at the watershed scale. This project was completed with grant funding received from the Baker-Polito administration’s FY17 Community Compact Program’s Efficiency & Regionalization Grant Program. For further information please contact Kimberly Noake MacPhee P.G. at or 413-774-3167.

DRW Framework for Resilience Plan