Valuing Land and Water in the Narragansett Bay Watershed

Narragansett Bay © NOAA
Narragansett Bay © NOAA

Mass Audubon and our partners at the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Center and the Natural Capital Project are developing information on the human benefits provided by the Narragansett Bay watershed.

This three-year project, funded by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, will determine the economic value of these “ecosystem services” received from conserved land and clean water.

Narragansett Bay is home to several working ports and harbors and supports economic activities such as tourism, transportation, recreation, and commercial and recreational fishing and shellfishing. The Bay and its watershed also provides ecosystem services including control of nutrients and other water pollutants, climate regulation, protection from floods and droughts, and healthy animal and plant populations.

Sixty percent of the Bay’s 1,600 square mile watershed is located in Massachusetts—an important consideration as the health of the bay is linked to activities throughout the watershed.

Read the press release >

Project Overview

A central challenge for the region in this century is to sustain a vibrant economy while protecting the environment as a key to quality of life for residents and visitors.

This project will help us better understand and address these challenges as well as incorporate the information into decision-making at local and state levels in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The project partner’s findings will be used in decision-making processes to support smart land use. We will also identify key challenges that decision-makers face and help communities better balance and target conservation and development.

Related Resources

Project Overview (Printer-Friendly)


→ From the November 2018 S3 RCN Capstone Meeting and RCP Network Gathering.

by Rob Griffin (Natural Capital Project)

by Heidi Ricci (Mass Audubon)

by Emi Uchida (University of Rhode Island)

Project Partners & Support

The Natural Capital Project is a partnership between Stanford University, the University of Minnesota, World Wildlife Fund, and The Nature Conservancy. The group specializes in providing actionable science on the social benefits of nature, co-developed in consultation with stakeholders and decision makers.

This project is funded through EPA's Southeast New England Program (SNEP), of which the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is a part.

Since its launch in 2014, SNEP's mission has been to seek and adopt transformative environmental management. One of SNEP's goals is to make connections across projects to ensure that restoration strategies are comprehensive and sustainable, that they are informed by input from key stakeholders, and that they are connected to the economies and enhance the ecosystem services that support coastal watershed communities.