Committee Chair Jim Ross called the meeting to order at 7:15 PM. Members Attending:

Tricia Cassady, Pat Rogers, Bill Taylor, Middleboro

Lou Bosquet, Bob Davis, Ray Brierly, Jim Ross, Raynham

Aria Brissette, Maryan Nowak, Jasmine Tanguay, Taunton

Joan Kimball, Riverways Program

Scott MacFaden, Wildlands Trust

Bill Napolitano, SRPEDD

Also attending was Middleboro resident and river enthusiast Tim Watts.

Review of Agenda Items

(2) The minutes of January’s committee meeting were approved unanimously, subject to one correction: Joan Kimball toils for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Law Enforcement (mercifully condensed into the acronym DFWELE, at least for the time being) and not the Department of Environmental Management.

Bill N. announced that the monthly Budget Report typically distributed to committee members was not available for the meeting, and that the missing report would be distributed in conjunction with next month’s report at the March committee meeting.

(3) Town Updates: Middleboro’s delegation noted the current high flow regimes of all of the rivers in the upper Taunton River system, a welcome change from recent drought periods. Raynham’s delegation briefly discussed the potential impacts to the river from improvements on Rt. 104. On behalf of Halifax, Bill N. reported that Jack Traynor, the sole active committee member from Halifax, had recently appeared before selectmen in an attempt to recruit additional members from the town. And on Taunton’s behalf, it was noted that ongoing efforts to create a Three Mile Watershed ACEC, if successful, would cover an area between the upper and lower Taunton Wild and Scenic study areas.

Chairman Ross also reported that a Middleboro Gazette reporter had attended the most recent "Between the Meetings Meeting", and had expressed interest in covering the full committee meetings as well.

(4) Vote on Statement of Purposes: Following a brief discussion focusing on attempts to refine the language of the Study Purposes document, it was voted unanimously to approve the Purposes language as depicted on the 1/31 draft handout, subject to the following revisions:

It was noted that the Purposes Document language will be included on the website as well as several items in preparation, including a poster and the Outreach Committee’s slide show.

(5) Sub-Committee Reports:

(a) Joan Kimball’s Revised Powerpoint Outreach Presentation: Joan Kimball provided a trial run-through of the outreach slide show presentation intended for selectboards and the Taunton City Council. The presentations are currently scheduled to begin in March in each of the five study communities, and shall be delivered by a Wild and Scenic Study Committee member from each locality. Information provided in the presentations will include historical information on the Wild and Scenic System and the process involved in completing a study, a history of efforts to protect the Taunton River and how they have culminated in the Taunton study, the achievements to date of the study committee, and the current status of the study. The presentations will also emphasize the partnership approach of the study, and reinforce the reality that the study does not in any way entail an intrusive or domineering federal presence.

Another goal of the presentations is to begin the process of building support in each community for the concept of endorsing the river’s inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Although selectmen are the obvious target audience, the public attending the meetings in person, those watching on TV, and those who still read newspaper accounts of local politics and governance are also target audiences.

(b) GIS Sub-Committee: Aria B. distributed a detailed summary of the many GIS maps to be produced as the study evolves, and requested that committee members review the summary and get back to her with any suggested additions or revisions. Due to the fact that there exist two distinct classes of map consumers, the first including committee members, town planners, conservation agents and other officials, and the second consisting of the general public, it is necessary to create a two-tiered system of maps specifically geared to the needs of these distinct audiences.

(6) Discussion of Newest Findings Document: Bill N. offered some brief comments about the Draft Eligibility document distributed at the meeting, and requested that committee members review the document and contact him with any thoughts and/or suggested revisions or additions. Recall that the document’s primary purpose is to offer answers to the question of "What’s so special about the Upper Taunton River?" At present, ecology and biodiversity, archaeology and history, recreation and scenic areas, and fisheries have all been identified as outstanding resource attributes of the Taunton.

This document will be among the materials distributed to selectmen as a part of the upcoming outreach presentations, and it will also serve as a mid-term report to the U.S. Congress.

(7) Other Business:

(a): Tributary Project: Joan K. provided an overview of the proposed Tributary Coordinator position’s duties. The coordinator will set up steering committees in each of the four subject communities, do local organizing, and supervise the study in conjunction with Riverways Program personnel. The position will pay $18/hour over approximately 400 hours, and will be posted in local papers and perhaps on internet job sites as soon as possible. A three-person subcommittee of as yet undetermined membership will oversee the hiring process and the coordinator’s job performance. This subcommittee will ultimately report to the full committee.

In order to allow for the possibility of conducting a shoreline survey on the Taunton mainstem, it was suggested that the committee consider authorizing an amendment to the coordinator position’s employment contract. It is a long-standing desire of many Taunton River advocates to complete a mainstem shoreline survey.

(b) Draft Timeline: Pat Rogers distributed a draft study timeline for the committee’s review.

(c) Lower Taunton Wild and Scenic Effort: Pat reported that parties interested in participating in a lower Taunton Wild and Scenic study recently held a meeting. Seven towns are likely to participate, with other participants including Save the Bay, TRWA, and the Sheehan Family Foundation. The next meeting of the lower group is on 2/24 at the Somerset Town Hall.

(c) TRWA Wild and Scenic Camping/Canoe Run: Bob Davis announced that the Taunton River Watershed Alliance is sponsoring a camping and canoe trip on the Taunton on June 21 and June 22. Interested parties should contact Joe Callahan at TRWA.

(d) Future Meeting Locations: Bill N. noted the difficulties he had encountered in attempting to schedule a meeting in Bridgewater, but was hopeful that the next meeting might be held at the Moakley Center.

(e) Re-election of Study Committee Officers: It was voted unanimously to re-appoint the current officers to serve another year. Committee Chair Jim Ross and Vice-Chair Aria Brissette agreed to remain in their positions. However, your secretary reluctantly announced that he is no longer able to properly serve the committee in this capacity, and stood down from the position. Vice-Chair Brissette nobly agreed to assume the duties of the position, with the anticipation that she will receive assistance when necessary and that others will stand in for her in the event she cannot make a particular meeting.

(8) Next Meeting: The next committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 19, at 7 PM, location TBA. The outreach subcommittee will meet prior to the regular meeting, at 5:30.

(9) Adjourn: The meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM.

Submitted by Scott MacFaden