Thursday, March 2, 2017

News and Upcoming Charles River Meadowlands Initiative Meetings

We have four news items to share:


The Boston Globe's Hattie Bernstein recently profiled the Initiative:


Our next meeting will focus on continued outreach across Bellingham, Franklin, and Medway as well as the US Army Corps of Engineers Master Plan draft (see more below). The meeting will be held Tues Mar 7, 6:30 PM, Dean Rm, First Universalist Soc. 262 Chestnut St, Franklin, MA. RSVP if you can -- but come even if it is a last minute decision.


The Army Corps of Engineers requested a written response to their draft Master Plan for the Charles River Valley Natural Storage Area (which includes the large land parcels in Bellingham, Franklin, and Medway.) 

A summary of the response follows:

Those of us who are involved with the initiative deeply value the presence of the Corps and its efforts to preserve and maintain these lands for flood control, conservation, and recreation. We are anxious to encourage the governments of Franklin, Bellingham, and Medway to work together with each other and with the Corps to protect and manage these lands and adjacent areas while taking steps to improve public access. Our primary focus is on Area M and Area S as described in the Master Plan. More information about our efforts is available at

Regarding the draft Master Plan, we would like to offer the following comments:

* We note that Section 1.1 states the CRNVS Project was authorized as "a multi-purpose project for flood control, recreation, and natural resource management under the Water Resources Development Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-251).

* The importance of the recreational component to the CRNVS Project is touched upon at many points in the Master Plan but, in general, with few specific actions defined. The primary exception to this is with regard to hunting and fishing; for which purposes management responsibilities of fee simple properties have long been ceded primarily to the Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Department (sic) [recently renamed Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, we have been informed]. Section 3.2, Natural Resource Objectives, ties this trend to natural resource management goals, noted above, stating, a primary aim as being to "Promote the public's use of the project for both consumptive (hunting) and non-consumptive (bird-watching) uses."

* We note that a broader treatment of "recreation" is to be conditioned by the other two foundational goals (flood control and natural resource management).

* Regarding section 2.4; we agree that the sections of CRNVSA lack adequate parking as well as signage and trail access.

Therefore, we would like to request that the Master Plan incorporate recognition of the following needs.

* Since the establishment of the CRNVSA, the communities closest to the source of the Charles have undergone dramatic growth. Franklin, for instance, has approximately quadrupled in population. This growth has been accompanied by a dramatic loss of open space and passive recreation opportunities.

* In keeping with the three part mission of the CRNVSA, we believe it would be appropriate for the Master Plan to include more specific goals and actions related to enhancing public access to Corps fee simple lands, including:

* More and better signage. There is no visible indication of the Corps' presence on either the Bellingham or the Franklin side of I-495 for passing motorists. This is the most visible and substantial presence the Corps has in this general area. Making the CRNVSA visible here would be strategically beneficial because it would inform citizens and influence land use and planning in the three towns about which the Charles River Meadowlands concerns itself.

* Create goals in cooperation with local communities, specifically Bellingham, Franklin, and Medway, to provide access to and through CRNVSA lands, linking whenever possible with trails and access points on town owned lands.

* Provide leadership in connection with utilities utilizing rights of way on or adjacent to CRNVSA properties so as to encourage the developments of Right of Way (ROW) trails and paths.

* Ensure that USACE personnel have a clear mandate through the Master Plan to balance the three goals of CRNVSA, namely flood control, recreation, and management of the natural environment.

* Ensure that local communities and stakeholders are informed of and involved with future planning and management initiatives involving the CRNVSA.

We appreciate the opportunity to share our concerns and voice in this process and look forward to working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to bring about the most beneficial operation of the CRNVSA in coming years.



IMPORTANT - April 19 from 4-8 at Millis Town Library, the Army Corps of Engineers is holding a public meeting to discuss the master plan...PLEASE TRY TO ATTEND.

Alan R. ​Earls
Charles River Meadowlands Initiative​

Office: 508 528 6930
Cell Phone: 508 560 3786

one of several photos of the meadowlands in snowy winter
one of several photos of the meadowlands in snowy winter

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