Taunton River Wild and Scenic River Study Committee

Minutes for Meeting of 8/13/03

Location: SRPEDD

 

Call to Order

Committee Chair Jim Ross called the meeting to order at 7:05.

Members attending:

 

Francis Pereira, Pat Rogers, Bill Taylor, Middleboro

Jim Ross, Raynham

Aria Brissette, Jasmine Tanguay, Maryan Nowak, Taunton

Jack Traynor, Halifax

Bill Napolitano, SRPEDD

Jamie Fosburg, National Park Service

                Nancy Durfee, Somerset

            Doug Robertson, interested party

            Karen Holmes, guest speaker

 

Minutes

The minutes of June’s committee meeting were approved with the following correction:

 

1. The minutes should read “Taunton River Wild and Scenic River Study Committee

Minutes for Meeting of 6/18/03”, not 5/14/03.  The minute’s taker noticed this mistake after the August meeting.

 

Tributary Project Update

The Forge River

The Forge River tributary committee had a meeting on July 14th to divide the river into sections for volunteers to survey.  The volunteers surveyed over a period of three weeks.  Only a small portion of the river could actually be canoed – most of it had to be walked.  Jim was encouraged that several new “environmentalists” he didn’t know joined the survey crew.  The volunteers didn’t find anything major during their surveying, however, two issues were mentioned:

 

1. The Forge River Tributary Committee wants to meet with the Highway Department regarding stormwater mitigation associated with the Route 104 widening project.

2. There is a garage/repair shop on the shore of Johnson’s Pond and the catchbasins for the paved parking lot, which goes right up to the pond, discharge into the pond.  The committee wants to recommend that if the property is ever sold that the stormwater be mitigated.

 

On August 4th there was an Action Planning Meeting to draft the Action Steps.

 

A lesson learned was that registered letters to landowners do not go over well.  Some recipients of the letters felt intimidated and/or turned off by having to sign for the letter that informed them of the survey and asked their permission.  In the future, a less formal letter and method of delivery would probably be more successful.

The Nemasket River

The next river to be done will be the Nemasket.  There will be a meeting on August 21st to divide up the Nemasket into sections and relationship build.  At that time they will decide on the training date.

 

The Winnetuxet River

Nancy has already met with Doug and Jeff to brainstorm about the introductory Winnetuxet meeting.

 

The Town River

Kitty had a successful meeting.

 

Guest Speaker Karen Holmes

The river is beautiful with regards to wildlife.

 

The following activities are done inside the Taunton River Corridor and everyone is encouraged to volunteer:

The North American Butterfly Association does surveys on the Taunton River.

There is a dragonfly migration count going on.

The Monarch Watch out of the University of Kansas organizes volunteers to tag monarch butterflies.

Be a Nest Box Ambassador through Cornell University.  Monitor boxes for birds as well as perform feeder watching.

The Frog Watch - National Wildlife Federation – looks for deformities in frogs.

 

The lack of public access points throughout the corridor makes it difficult to perform these activities.  When Karen leads activities she often has to ask permission from private landowners to get access to the rivers.  The Town of Raynham doesn’t have a quality access site.

 

Jim asked Karen whether or not the recreation opportunities on the Taunton River are stupendous.  She replied “yes, absolutely”.  She also said she would look over drafts of the recreation section of the plan with Bill.

 

Old Business – Rte 18 Bridge Project

Final plans should be coming out.  It was mentioned that the Route 88 Bridge over the Westport River is being rehabilitated and they have put in some nice blue railings that provide a good opportunity to see the river.  It may be a nice model for the Route 18 Bridge.

 

New Business

Riverways/State Agency Update

The Riverways Program survived with overwhelming support in the house and senate.

 

Opportunity to hire Staff for Mgmt Plan

Bill recommended hiring Rachel from Adopt-A-Stream 1 day per week to work on the management plan.  She would be a 1099 consultant.  A motion was made to allow SRPEDD to have the discretion to hire a qualified consultant to work on the plan one day per week.  The full Committee unanimously approved the motion.

 

Raynham Public Access Proposal

A Project Summary/Proposal was included along with August’s meeting agenda.  The Town of Raynham is asking the Wild and Scenic River Committee for up to $12,000 in matching funds to implement the project, which entails developing a cartop boat access launch and interpretive trail at the Heritage Park Site on the Taunton River.  The Committee decided to table the issue until the next meeting and Aria asked that a project budget be provided.

 

Robertson’s Mill Project/Weir Coop

Bill N gave an update on this project, which will refurbish/beautify Robertson’s Mill.  The building will be used for affordable housing and retail shops.  A river walk is also proposed for the site to complement the trail on the opposite side of the river.

 

Weaver’s Cove Energy Expanded ENF

A letter asking for comments on the Expanded ENF Form was included along with August’s meeting agenda. The project proposes to put in a liquefied natural gas storage tank at a terminal in Fall River.  It was noted that the project is an improvement over the existing conditions at the site and the site is a designated port area, which allows for this type of use.  Although the ENF Comment period is over, the National Park Service (NPS) can submit late comments.  The NPS was not even notified of the project until the public meeting has been scheduled.

 

Brockton’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Upgrade

Bill N proposed that when the ENF comes out we as a committee submit a letter to the state that suggests that the WWTP to do a low flow/contribution study of the river, especially considering the WWTP supposedly contributes up to 70% of the river’s instream flow at times.  Pat Rogers vehemently objected to us getting involved in the issue and questioned who on the committee was technically qualified enough to make such a request.  He also stated that the Committee shouldn’t be getting political and that the WWTP had to get NPDES permits so we should leave it up to the relevant state and federal agencies to determine what information needs to be collected.  He didn’t feel the issue of the WWTP upgrade was relevant to our study.   Several people on the Committee disagreed and felt the issue was relevant to our study and we should submit a comment letter when the time comes.  The Committee decided that Jim Ross would write a letter to the appropriate agency that brings these issues to their attention and asks them to consider requiring the WWTP to do a low flow/contribution analysis as part of the EIR.  Perhaps we could even get some of the TRWA water quality data analyzed too.

 

Archaeological Model

Ruth Geoffroy’s email has some good suggestions on resources we can use to possibly get more information on the archaeologic resources of the Taunton River. Perhaps we can use some study money to add to our knowledge of these resources on the Taunton River?

 

Other Business

Public Access

Pat Rogers mentioned that there are five bridges in Taunton that are getting rehabbed and there may be the potential to add canoe access points when this happens.  Maryan Nowak volunteered to write a letter on behalf of the Committee to the Mayor of Taunton asking the City to take into consideration public access and viewshed protection when undergoing the bridge improvement projects.

 

Pat Rogers will follow up with Jack Sheppard regarding the public access board’s plans to create/improve public access sites on the river.  There were plans to put a conservation restriction on property at the Bridgewater House of Corrections and improve two sites on the property but with budget cuts and state government reorganization he’s not sure what has happened.

 

Satucket River Cotton Mill Dam

Karen Pelto couldn’t be at the meeting to discuss this project, which will hopefully restore alewives to the Satucket River. She wanted to know if we as a committee could push this thing forward.  It appears they are fine without our help but if would be a good idea to include this in our management plan. I.E. support their efforts but further involvement isn’t necessary on our part.  She will try and make the September meeting to give a presentation on the topic.

 

September Meeting

The next meeting date will be on September 10th in Middleboro and the timeline will be a major discussion topic since time is running out. 

 

Submitted by Aria Brissette