Citizen Action: Local Greenway Committees and Friends Groups
Protecting and managing the watershed’s riverfront lands continues to be a key aspect of the NRWA’s overall watershed management plan. Volunteers are helping the Greenway grow through community outreach, landowner assistance, and improving the management of Greenway lands. Volunteers directly assist the NRWA, and, in some communities, have formed local groups with which the NRWA works closely. Several Greenway committees, some established by local governments and some by citizen volunteers, work to complete the protection of the Nashua River and its tributaries, including:
The NRWA has been a key participant in the Fitchburg Greenway Committee (FGC) from its inception. The FGC evolved directly from the Fitchburg Stream Team, initiated by the NRWA, which was active in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and includes many of the same core members. The Stream Team produced two shoreline surveys inventorying existing conditions in and alongside of the entire seven mile stretch of the river throughout the City. A report addressed most pressing issues and the most likely opportunities for improvement, including the cleanup of a massive riverside illegal dump along West Street, which the Team successfully undertook. That site is now Fitchburg’s new Gateway Park and loop trail, a collaborative project that involved many partners including Fitchburg Greenway Committee, the NRWA, the City of Fitchburg, the MA Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, The Trustees of Reservations, North County Land Trust, and WDC Construction, Inc. Today’s FGC is active in several areas including riverfront open space protection; Riverfront Park modifications resulting in greater access to the river, as well as improved in-stream habitat and flow conditions; updating of the city’s wetland ordinance; and numerous educational events. The Trustees of Reservations named the Fitchburg Greenway Committee as its Conservationists of the Year in 2010.
Lancaster Friends of the Nashua River, a chapter of the Nashua River Watershed Association, is an emerging robust informal group project. The Friends group defined its mission and goals for work in Lancaster -- raising consciousness among Lancaster residents and promoting environmental education -- deliberately designing its activities to dovetail with and support the mission and goals of the broader NRWA. In June 2011, the Lancaster Friends held their First Annual River Festival in Lancaster, which attracted hundreds of participants.
Groton Greenway Committee in Groton, MA
The Groton Greenway Committee was established in 1989 at the request of the Nashua River Watershed Association. The Committee sponsors nature walks, canoe trips, river cleanups, water chestnut pulls, and also a semi-annual river festival. Its official charge is to:
- protect river and stream frontage in Groton, particularly along the Nashua and Squannacook Rivers;
- complete a buffer along these waterways to prevent pollution and provide flood protection, recreation, wildlife habitat, trail connectors, and scenic beauty;
- educate townspeople to the environmental and financial importance of protecting riverfront lands;
- seek gifts of land or easements along the riverways; and,
- seek the opportunity to purchase frontage.
Monoosnoc Brook Greenway Project in Leominster, MA
The Monoosnoc Brook Greenway Project is a partnership between residents and businesses of Leominster formed in 1987, as part of the Nashua River Watershed Association, to provide stewardship for the Monoosnoc Brook watershed. The project responded to the concerns of local businesses and City officials who noted the neglect and deterioration of the brook which had become littered with garbage. Through cleanups, site work, education and other events, the MBGP has been successful in restoring the beauty of the brook, and walking trails and small park areas have been established. MBGP has provided hundreds of free programs to school children in Leominster, has installed rain gardens and outdoor classroom spaces at Fall Brook Elementary School, and has conducted an Annual Cleanup of the brook for over 25 years.