Central Massachusetts Advocacy Office
Our major focus is grassroots advocacy, with the goal of assisting others to protect the nature of Central Massachusetts. Our two issues are land protection and water resource protection — which if you think about it, is just about everything!
Holy Cross students and Worcester DPW staff stencil storm drains leading to Broad Meadow Brook.
We work very closely with local land trusts, municipalities, other state-wide organizations and landowners to protect existing open space. Keeping land areas undeveloped through such tools as conservation easements, bargain sales, outright purchase, and gifts, contributes to wildlife habitat protection, provides outdoor recreation opportunities and is one of the best way to protect our water resources.
But the reality, according to Mass Audubon's Losing Ground: At What Cost publication, is that eastern Worcester County is the "newest sprawl frontier" and under heavy development pressure. Acknowledging that reality, we work with others to reduce the negative impacts of residential, commercial and industrial development through planning and project review.
Water Resource Protection:
All of Worcester's waterways are headwater tributaries to the Blackstone River, and we here at Broad Meadow Brook are helping lead the charge to restore the river's water quality to meet fishable and swimmable standards by 2015.
Volunteer water quality monitors sample Broad Meadow Brook.
A beautiful river of national significance, the Blackstone flows 46 miles southeast from Worcester to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, emptying into the Seekonk River and on to the City of Providence and Narragansett Bay. The river and its tributaries drain over 545 square miles of land area.
But the Blackstone's history as the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution has left a legacy of polluted waterways. The river's come a long way, but it still needs a tremendous amount of help to be restored to meet fishable/swimmable water quality standards. With your help we can make this happen by 2015.
Mass Audubon has helped create the Blackstone River Coalition, a partnership of various organizations, businesses, individuals, agencies and municipalities that are working to restore the Blackstone River and improve the health of the Blackstone River watershed.
What we're doing is working collaboratively to win the Campaign for a Fishable/Swimmable Blackstone River by 2015.
The Campaign for a Fishable-Swimmable Blackstone River by 2015:
In order to marshall the resources to actually clean up the Blackstone River, in 2003 the Blackstone River Coalition launched the Campaign for a Fishable/Swimmable Blackstone River by 2015. To build a roadmap for the Campaign, the BRC is working with federal, state and local agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, academic institutions and individuals to create a bi-state watershed action plan.
To improve water quality to achieve a fishable/swimmable Blackstone River by 2015, the planks in the Campaign platform include:
- Stormwater and polluted runoff - reduce pollutants washed into the waterways and the volume of stormwater
- Wastewater treatment plants - implement more stringent limits on nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates
- Land uses - protect undeveloped areas, restore wetlands and riparian areas, protect cold water fishery streams, encourage Low Impact Development strategies such as reduced impervious surfaces, increased infiltration, and native plantings.
- Streamflow - restore flow by methods such as: improve impoundment management; breach or remove appropriate dams; and establish fish passage for anadromous species at the four lower-most dams.
- Recreational Opportunities - continue to build a system of river access points to increase opportunities to fish, canoe and enjoy passive recreation.
- Education and Outreach - develop programs to increase watershed awareness and appreciation, and to encourage active stewardship.
A Two-Tiered Campaign:
The Campaign operates on two levels to accomplish these goals - the grassroots level and the interagency level. The grassroots level offers many opportunities for you to help. They include:
- Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring:
The BRC Blackstone River Watershed-wide Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program. For details, and for contact information, click here for our brochure.
- Pollution Reduction in Your Yard or Business:
"A Cleaner Blackstone River Begins in Your Yard or Business." By changing the way you care for your lawn, maintain and wash your car, walk your dog, maintain your septic system, you can reduce polluted runoff from your property. If you're a business owner, you can join the "Cleaner Blackstone Business" Program.
- Reduce stormwater volume from your property:
By redirecting roof runoff downspouts from your driveway to a vegetated area of your property, you help maintain your own local water balance. The runoff that would have flowed down your driveway to the road, to the nearest stormdrain, to the nearest waterway, now is infiltrated and helps maintain ground water levels. You could create a "Rain Garden" to collect the roof runoff, enhance your landscaping, and infiltrate to ground water.
Download our Rain Gardens brochure (PDF 390K).
- Become a Stream Team Member:
Learn to do shoreline surveys and develop action plans for your local river or stream. Local watershed associations, such as the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition and the Blackstone River Watershed Association, sponsor and train stream teams.
- Serve on Local Municipal Boards and Commissions:
Conservation minded and experienced volunteers who are willing to serve on a local conservation commission, planning board, watershed association board, etc. are ALWAYS needed. You can help guide development carefully in your own community by being willing to serve in this capacity. To learn more, request a copy of Mass Audubon's recent publication entitled Shaping the Future of Your Community
Federal, state and local environmental agencies are working collaboratively to help reach our fishable/swimmable goal by 2015.
These agencies include:
For more details about the Campaign, download our:
- US Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Geological Survey;
- Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Department of Transportation;
- Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Department of Fish and Game;
- Local town governments.
Cleaner Blackstone Business Program brochure (pdf 85K)
Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program brochure (pdf 53K)
or visit The Blackstone River Coalition website.