Taunton River Wild and Scenic

August 5, 2004

 

Present:  Jim Ross, Raynham;  Jamie Fosburgh, NPS; John Torgan, Save the Bay; Nancy Durfee, Somerset; Maryan Nowak, Taunton; Joan Kimball Riverways; Bill Taylor, Middleboro; Jack Traynor, Halifax; Cheryl Wall, Halifax; Ray Brierly, Raynham; Joe Callahan, Berkley, TRWA; Al Short, Middleboro; Christina Wordell, Somerset; Richard Ashcroft; Doug Roberson, Halifax; Kitty Doherty, Bridgewater/NRTB; Alex Houtzager, TRWA; Priscilla Chapman, Fall River, Jasmine Tanguay, Taunton, TRWA; Rachel Calabro, Riverways and SRPEDD; Bill Napolitano, SPREDD.

 

I.  Minutes were distributed at beginning of meeting:  Minutes were approved

II. The brochure (5000) will be ready in the middle of next week. 

III. Stream Team updates: Nancy reported that we finished the first draft for the Segregansett; the first draft of the mainstem is written.  We had an action planning meeting for the Three Mile and Segregansett—it was perfect. There was only one segment on Taunton—from Long Meadow to the Weir—that has not been completed.  Nancy suggests that we send out thank you notes to all the volunteers. Jim recommended that the note mention designation and include the brochure.  Nancy also mentioned that we hold an event for all the stream teams --maybe have a pot luck supper—where they could interact with each other and hear about W&S.  Part of the evening could be spent on how to keep stream teams together.   Bring AAS tools and materials –such as the “how to do clean ups” to the supper.

 

Nancy asked how we can support Stream Teams when we finish with the surveys so that we can help them follow through with actions.  Suggestions included technical assistance (staff), small grants, Adopt-A-Stream support and because the tributaries will be included in the management plan—the same support would go to the tributaries that go to the mainstem. Bob Rak, professor at Bristol Community College has a series of 10 educational videos on specific uses that have come up on every stream team:  native plants, how to be a good steward to river; septic system maintenance, etc. It would be great to get them out on cable.   They videoed the speakers at a series of workshops. 

 

Jim suggested that all the sections of the management plan include a focus on the stream teams and on their roles. A stream team member suggested that we build the structure of the stream teams so that they become self-sustaining.  Each could have a chair or co-chairs. Kitty said that the Town River Stewards (a new name for the stream team) is now under the land trust.  They are now planning a second clean up; they post the minutes on the land trust web page.  They are autonomous with support from the Land Trust.

 

III. Update of Projects funded:

Macroinvertebrate: Fred St. Ours and Tim Watts started the macroinvertebrate surveys.  The next one is August 17th.

 

Stream Team Kiosk on the Forge is going well

 

Heritage Landscape Survey:  Bill will be meeting with Jessica next week for planning.

 

Water Quality and Flow:  Winnetuxet, Matfield; Town, Nemasket and Raven Brook. 

All sites up and running; data on the web; Margaret will be working on the data to give us rating curves to see discharge.  There are also rotating tributaries.

 

Consolidation of data:  We need an update on progress.

Alex said that TRWA is looking at assessment of whole Taunton basin.  We can’t tell whether river is getting better.  Alex can’t get people to do the volunteer monitoring.  We need an ability to react to problems such as high fecal coliform.  Christina said that she has been testing beaches for the Somerset Board of Health and has been seeing phenomenal results. Christina noted that DMF is out every week to monitor.  Christina has been out with SMAST.  Save the Bay has been seeing sea lettuce and macro-algae which is an indicator of poor water quality. Alex feels that there should be a central source to enter data. Joan felt that the Board of Health and DMF testing should be gathered and added to information that Bob Davis’ project has been gathering.  RIFLS monitors are collecting data that will be transformed into rating curves so that we will eventually have an understanding of flow in the upper Taunton River tributaries, streams that are considered stressed. Doug Roberson , a RIFLS volunteer, said that he would like some feedback on what he is seeing. 
 

IV. STEWARDSHIP PLAN

Ecology and biodiversity

·         Joan suggested that we have a glowing introductory sentence.  Jamie suggested that all introductory sections should have headings so that they draw the reader in.  There should be very short two or three paragraph heading.  We could base the paragraphs on different types of habitat:  unfragmented wetland habitat;  threatened and endangered species; fish and wildlife.  There are some globally rare ecosystems in the Taunton River Watershed.   The TNC selected the Taunton for study and protection because of its national –and in some cases global significance.  It is one of the most intact coastal rivers in the Northeast and as such provides a refuge for many species; the freshwater marsh exists because there are no dams.   

Habitat types

Species types

Objectives:

#3 is wordy.  Would like to see an objective very specific to habitat fragmentation.  We should have two objectives instead of one: 

·         Prevent habitat fragmentation by protecting riparian corridors

·         Rare and endangered species have its own bullet

 

Actions balanced by threats:  objectives at the top

Environmentally insensitive development (in place of unplanned development)

 

We seem to have threats balanced by actions with the exception of “Environmentally insensitive development.

 

Joan suggested having either a section with suggestions for landowners and residents of things they can do to protect biodiversity, habitat, or in other sections,  historical or scenic resources.  Otherwise this information could be intertwined within the actions in each section

 

Kitty recommended that the plan affect every single person; make it personal and connected.

 

Can we relate each action to ecology and biology:   Bring the wording back to the focus.

Look at each action to ensure that they are specific to biology and ecology. 

New suggestions include:

·         Promote biodiversity days

·         Naturalist walks could also promote importance of linked corridors

·         Overlay district:   several local people suggested removing it.  Some one suggested changing the words to “ consider the potential of a development of a TR model overlay district that  would create a protective riparian corridor.”  We all acknowledged that passing a bylaw takes work.  Bill suggested that we encourage more board of health regulations; planning board design standards.

·         Support natural resource inventory to get a sense of what is there now and protect through design standards

·         Maintain streamside buffers and edge habitat

·         Stormwater design

·         Make sure that Open Space Plans and Master Plans include a focus on riparian corriors and preventing fragmentation of habitat

·         Inform communities that have cluster zoning or open space zoning that the land chosen to be set aside for open space should be chosen with knowledge of the rare and endangered species and linked riparian corridors.

 

Agriculture:

Alex suggested that the long-term use of the river corridor for farming should be highlighted.  The Native Americans have used this corridor for farming for 1000s of years ad the land is still fertile and productive.  Then emphasize settlers.   Bill suggested that we mention the outstanding efforts in SE MA (such as Agricultural Commissions) that are expanding to the rest of the state.

 

“I can raise anything on this kind of soil”  is a comment often heard in the Taunton River Watershed. There is a lot of bottom land.  Soil is deep, rich— (Get the number)  % of the farms in the corridor is prime agricultural land.  Some of the prime agricultural lands have more than six feet of soil are already lost to development. 

 

Jim asked if we could we narrow the figures for MA to Taunton.  The only thing that could be stated are crop values.   $6000 is the agriculture value of this land.  This is the higher end of what the APR program will pay per acre. Several people felt it was very important to protect our agriculture. Protect agricultural ability of corridor to sustain ourselves if loss of transportation:  if we need to be self-sufficient, we could be.  If all possible land were agricultural how many people could we feed?  Bill T. pointed out that we were lacking farmers to lease fields as well as work the land.

 

We should have an inspiring first sentence about agriculture in the Taunton so that it paints a word picture of the agriculture the river. Farming is so important in the Taunton that we have one of the 2 agricultural schools in the state. The school owns 224 acres of prime agricultural land on the river.

New ideas:

·         Community Gardening: all communities could have community gardens and we need some muscle and TA center:  Could Bristol Aggie serve as this?

·         Bristol Aggie has done aquaculture with Save the Bay

·         Encourage partnership with Future Farmers of Am and Natural Resources Department and 4-H and Bristol County Farm Bureau and BC Con District to have local projects in the communities such as Community Gardens and see if we can find land on the rivers or tributaries.  

·          Combine problem of needing farm labor on the farms with Bristol Aggie resources.  In 1980 not enough farms to work on; they moved  poultry out of the curriculum because there were no chicken farms.  Someone suggested that organic emphasis could be a new movement.  

 

Bill N. will look up Executive Order 193: Support state no net loss of farm properties.  They had to replace with land that will remain in perpetuity.

Rachel asked if there are special actions that would make the top ten

·         Theme:  lower Taunton as a nursery habitat:  at certain life stages, fish are dependent on estuaries suchas the Lower Tauton River.  Winter flounder, Tautaug, Rainbow Smelt; lobsters, clams, and marine species. 

·         Protect riparian corridor

 

ESTUARY

John said that we must add importance of nursery for marine fish.  We will incorporate it in the fishery section as well as putting it in the beginning of his section.  This should be added as one of the Outstandingly Remarkable values in the beginning of the document.  John was pleased to see hands on active strategies form the community workshop. 

 

Are there hooks:  estuary that is particularly exciting or rare that we want to accentuate.  The estuary; salt marsh. Assonet largest continuous estuary in Taunton.

 

Economics should be added:  scallop fishery, gone; clams, conditionally closed; what would we have to do to restore  it?

 

At least 15,000 bushels of seeds are collected for depuration elsewhere.

 

We will focus on the next two sections at the next meeting.

 

Recreation

Jamie reorganized the section by headings and the text is still missing.  Jamie said that we are missing some information.

 

Water Quality

 

V.                 LNG

Priscilla noted that the permitting is moving ahead at precipitous speed.  The Environmental Impact Statement was made public; the comment period is mid September for the COE and 404 and comments on the EIS are due September 20.  Fall River Conservation Commission received the NOI for terminal construction and dredging and Christina said that Somerset also received NOI.  There is a request to fill over an acre of the river.  Fall River received a NOI for Mill River crossing and pipes to Freetown.  The Conservation Commission is reviewing documents.  Priscilla said that it has become apparent that there are major environmental impacts associated with this: Loss of wetlands, dredging –2-3 million cubic yards.  The applicant proposes to put dredged sediment on the site to build up the elevation to build up floodplain and build up the berm. The site is an ongoing 21E site with ongoing groundwater pumping. The project will be a significant concern to Taunton tidal exchange.  Jamie will be able to comment  We should look at see how we think the project will affect our outstandingly remarkable values. The project will deepen the channel to 46 feet.  Dredging will last for 3 years and as well as maintenance dredging.

 

Is there an alternative site:  look at the offshore site—there is one is Gloucester and one off Louisiana.  The applicant dismissed all alternatives.  There is no data for environmental impact study for an offshore site.  John said we should address it.  There needs to be a careful strategy to watchdog it and drive it to MEPA and CWA to protect the resources. Project purpose is to bring natural gas to region—should be a regional reaction. Several people felt that FERC doesn’t seem to care about municipal feelings.  Several members said that they need to get through MEPA and NEPA and suggested that we stress inadequate attention to alternatives. The City has submitted comments.  Jim McGovern and Barney Frank are at the meetings. Concern was expressed about disturbance of sediments.  One member of the committee felt that if they do this dredging they will turn the whole river into a brownfield. Hearings will be Wednesday August 25 in Fall River and next Monday in Somerset.  Wild and Scenic committee will try to be present to comment.

 

Subcommittee:  Ray, Nancy, and others will be on the subcommittee to review the LNG—everyone invited.  

 

VI.  DESAL

The army corps and DEP held a site visit for federal regulators. Jamie felt that people were surprised at the pristine nature of the river at that spot.  Jamie will be commenting on it. Could it be moved?    

 

VI.                 Fall dates of festivals

Fall dates of festivals:   Bridgewater, Raynham will host festivals the weekend of _____________.   Wild and Scenic want to participate. It could be a good way for Stream Team members as well as Wild and Scenic members.   Somerset Garden Club:  Nancy and Bill volunteered for October 27, Wednesday evening.   Somerset’s Conservation Commission will be August 9th at 7PM at old Town Hall. 

 

VII. The next meeting will be Tuesday, September 14th.  The subcommittee to draft comment letters on the LNG meeting will be at 6:00. 

 

The meeting adjourned at 9:35 P.M.

 

Joan Kimball