Hello blog readers! I am a River Conservation Fellow with the National Park Service Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program. The project I’ve been dedicating the most time to has been assisting a new Partnership River getting up and running!
The Housatonic River was designated as Wild and Scenic with the most recent passing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2617). The Housatonic River was first studied by NPS in the late 1970s for Wild & Scenic status but has since completed a more recent evaluation in 2021 and has again found the river to be suitable for Wild & Scenic designation. The Housatonic River designation stretches from the Massachusetts-Connecticut boundary to the Boardman Bridge in New Milford, Connecticut, for a total of approximately 40.3 miles. The Housatonic River is highlighted for its recreation and scenic values including canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking the Appalachian Trail.
As a part of their initial study, NPS recommended that a management group be developed to act as a resource and a source of advisory for local town governments – the Housatonic River Commission (HRC). HRC functions much like quite a few of the other Councils/Committees that local manage our Wild and Scenic Rivers throughout the East Coast, but without federal funding. HRC was established in 1980 and has been active since then. Today, HRC was named in the legislation as the managing entity for the Housatonic River. We have been providing them with technical assistance in the forms of financial assistance and administrative support. I’ve specifically been working with them to update their Management Plan. The last iteration of the Management Plan for the Housatonic River was in 2006. Much of the data is out of date, but for the most part, a lot of the recommendations and such will stay the same in the update.
Most of the other Partnership Wild and Scenic River Councils throughout the Eastern United States complete their management plan as a part of their study process – to see if their eligible for designation. The Housatonic and HRC are such rare additions to the Partnership Wild and Scenic River Network. They have been in operation for over 40 years as their own entity – essentially operating as a Wild and Scenic River Council without the technical or financial support of the Federal government. This is an exciting and worthwhile project to be a part of as I am taking part in a writing process that will have positive implications much farther down the line than any of my other projects have to date. HRC has been operating with their 2006 management plan for almost 20 years. It’s a bit overwhelming to think that a project I am working on in my fellowship will having lasting support for the next 20 years. It’s a bit scary but I know I will be able to do it :)