Meeting Location: SRPEDD offices, Taunton

Committee Chair Jim Ross called the meeting to order at 7:10 PM. Committee members in attendance:

Jack Traynor, Halifax

Francis Pereira, Bill Taylor, Middleboro

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

Aria Brissette, Maryan Nowak, Taunton

Jamie Fosburgh, National Park Service

Pat Rogers, EOEA Taunton River Basin Team

Joan Kimball, DEM Riverways Program

Scott MacFaden, Wildlands Trust

Bill Napolitano, SRPEDD, Study Staff Person

Review of Agenda Items

(2) Approval of Minutes: The minutes for the most recent committee meeting on 10/16/02 received unanimous approval. It was also noted that two committee members, Bob Davis and Maryan Nowak, had mistakenly and inadvertently been omitted from the attendance list for the October meeting. They were indeed present, and apologies to both members for the unintentional omission.

(3) Financial Report: Bill N. distributed a financial report and provided an overview of the document’s contents. Several members asked for clarification regarding the ongoing expenditures attributed to the website, and Bill indicated that these expenditures were incurred in the process of maintaining the site, i.e., upkeep, renewing the web server, and updates. Jack T. suggested reconfiguring the report in a landscape format that includes running, or year to date, totals.

The committee voted unanimously to: (1) accept the report, and (2) direct study staff to henceforth include year to date totals in each month’s financial report.

(4) Municipal/State/NPS Reports: Bill N. reported on behalf of the absent Bridgewater delegation, and noted that Bridgewater committee member Kitty Doherty had contacted him and detailed some of her river-related activities in Bridgewater, including ongoing efforts to prepare Park and Recreation Programs for municipally-owned parcels in the town. The process of engaging the public during the preparation of these programs has helped to stimulate interest in both the Taunton River and the Wild and Scenic effort.

Aria B. reported on behalf of Taunton, and revealed that Taunton Conservation Agent Cathal O’Brien is hopeful that the Wild and Scenic study will enhance his knowledge of the Taunton River corridor.

Francis P. reported on behalf of Middleboro, and noted that fingerling herring have been taken from the mainstem of the Taunton and several tributaries this fall for restocking elsewhere, providing additional testimony to the richness and productivity of the river system’s fishery.

Checking in from Halifax, Jack T. revealed that the Cherry Street Bridge renovation project at the Halifax/Bridgewater town line was complete, and the bridge was again open to traffic. However, the newly installed guardrails adjacent to the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s canoe launch have been constructed in such a manner as to impede access to the river. Pat R. mentioned that the Public Access Board is currently engaged in an effort to create parking areas at this site and others. With this in mind, it was suggested that Bill N. draft a letter on behalf of the committee to Mass. Highway encouraging the agency to support the creation of public access zones as integral components of all bridge projects.

Jim R. had nothing new to report on behalf of Raynham, but at this juncture did note his recent discussion with a representative of the Sheehan Family Foundation about its interest in the Taunton River watershed.

NPS staff person Jamie F. provided an account of how recent events in Washington will affect his agency. Because the Congress passed a continuing budget resolution and not a new budget, the NPS will not have a new budget—therefore, it will be funded at 80% of last year’s budget. What this means for the anticipated lower Taunton Wild and Scenic study is a likely delay in its starting date.

(5) Staff Updates: Bill N. noted that he had fielded an inquiry from a party seeking to contact Bill Taylor for information on the historical and archeological features of the Taunton River corridor, and distributed the e-mail message containing the inquiry.

(6) Discussion of "Preliminary Findings on Eligibility": The committee reviewed the draft document identifying a range of attributes that might receive distinction as "outstandingly remarkable". The draft identifies ecology, archaeology, history, and recreation/scenery as potentially outstandingly remarkable characteristics of the Taunton River study area.

Several members identified other attributes worthy of characterization as outstandingly remarkable, including fisheries and agriculture. Bill N. is consulting with DFW’s fisheries expert Steve Hurley to obtain additional information on the Taunton’s fisheries. Jamie F. noted the importance of choosing the most appropriate outstandingly remarkable attributes the river corridor includes—this is important both for bolstering public outreach efforts and to ensure that there is sufficient evidence to support the "outstandingly remarkable" distinction.

(7) Discussion of "Public Outreach Strategy" and Remarkably Outstanding Matrix: Joan Kimball distributed a draft outreach proposal and a matrix summarizing committee members’ views on the river’s best features and its most contentious problems.

The draft outreach proposal was well received by the committee. The proposal calls for the recruitment of one committee member from each study community to serve as a liaison between the committee and their city or town, with the primary goal of providing a locally based source of information about the study to the Boards of Selectmen and the public. This will take the form of a short but informative presentation to the board of selectmen (or city council, as the case may be) sometime this winter, augmented by Joan K. and Bill N. The following committee members either indicated interest in serving in this capacity or were recommended as likely to have interest:

Jim Ross, Raynham

Aria Brissette, Jasmine Tanguay, Taunton

Jack Traynor, Halifax

Tricia Cassady, Middleboro

Kitty Doherty, Bridgewater

*All those interested in the outreach effort will convene one hour prior to the start of the next full committee meeting, at 6 PM.

(8) Discussion of Management Plan Strategy: Jamie F. distributed a draft management plan outline. The draft includes six headings/components, culminating in an "Administrative Framework" that should provide a vision for the river corridor that transcends the actual Wild and Scenic study. Joan K. recommended that the committee adopt Joan Pierce’s suggestion and invite experts to speak to the committee on the attributes identified as outstandingly remarkable. It was also noted that the final management plan should have viability and utility as a working document for those laboring on behalf of the river on a day to day basis, even in the event the river does not ultimately receive Wild and Scenic designation.

(9) Other items receiving attention prior to adjournment:

The meeting adjourned at 9:25 PM.

Submitted by Scott MacFaden