Mass Audubon Receives Grant to Help Communities Restore Water Quality with Sustainable Land Use

Release Date:
August 17, 2017

LINCOLN, MA—Mass Audubon’s Shaping the Future of Your Community program has received a grant from the Foundation for MetroWest to assist Hudson and other local communities with protecting and restoring natural water balance and water quality through resilient landscapes. The MetroWest region of Massachusetts is experiencing climate change through more intense storm events, punctuated by increased frequency of droughts, which are only expected to worsen. This contributes to increased floods, erosion, and water pollution as well as periods of low or no flow in streams, which can stress fish and other aquatic life.

We amplify these impacts when we cover forests and fields – that soak up and filter water – with impervious surfaces like sprawling developments and wide roads where water runs off and carries pollution into our waterways. The goal of this project is to introduce public and municipal officials to a more natural approach to land management through Low Impact Development (LID) and native plants. The project will demonstrate how local decisions can restore the water cycle and water quality while providing an attractive, high-quality landscape and improving climate resilience for current and future generations.  The goal is to increase awareness and adoption of these cost-effective and practical techniques.

The Shaping the Future of Your Community program will also provide technical assistance to review Hudson’s local subdivision regulations to support the use of LID techniques and naturalized landscaping in development and redevelopment. Mass Audubon will work with its local Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick as well its partner OARS and the Town of Hudson to demonstrate how to maximize the natural capacity of soils and plants to absorb and filter water through LID approaches like rain gardens and native plantings. Following our workshops and technical assistance programs, we will connect communities with the resources necessary to implement local improvements.

Stefanie Covino, Coordinator of the Shaping the Future of Your Community program notes, “Our water resources are increasingly stressed, but conserving and restoring the natural landscape with native plants can offer social, environmental, and economic benefits such as improved air quality, property values, energy savings, and habitat – both locally and downstream.”

“The Town of Hudson Community Development Department is committed to promoting greener development, especially as climate change becomes a reality and climate change resilience becomes increasingly important.  We are very excited at the opportunity to benefit from Mass Audubon’s experience with local zoning regulations, and will greatly appreciate their help in creating new subdivision regulations that will encourage the use of low-impact development and green infrastructure,” said Hudson’s Conservation Agent and Planner Pam Helinek.

The project partners with OARS, the watershed organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers. Executive Director Alison Field-Juma states, “OARS looks forward to working with Mass Audubon to educate the public about how to create a more climate-resilient landscape on their own property through better stormwater management, pet waste disposal, and increasing native plantings. Our goal is to ‘rehydrate the landscape’ by increasing the amount of rainfall that is absorbed into the ground to recharge water supplies and feed headwater streams.”

This project also complements a related effort, also funded by the Foundation for MetroWest, by Massachusetts Rivers Alliance and the Charles River Watershed Association to improve the state’s drought management plan and promote better water conservation.

We thank the Foundation for MetroWest for the grant funding and opportunity to serve the local communities.

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Mass Audubon protects 36,500 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state’s natural treasures for wildlife and for all people—a vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women. Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 125,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today’s and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at massaudubon.org.