The national designation of “Wild & Scenic River” provides many benefits. Communities along the designated National Wild & Scenic Westfield River have access to resources to help all the partners achieve the protection of the watershed’s outstanding resource values. Such support can bring a host of positive outcomes to all, including:
- Tools to protect water quality and watershed hydrology for local residents.
- Protection of rural character and opportunities to conserve stream banks, large wildlife habitats and important open space areas which help maintain the qualities of local communities.
- Access to funding and grants to help towns achieve open space and conservation goals and opportunities to leverage additional funds and support, saving communities money.
- Healthy ecosystems – widely recognized as one of the highest priorities for biodiversity conservation in Southern New England, the Westfield River’s miles of free-flowing streams and intact forest corridors represent one of the best opportunities for river conservation in the region. The Wild & Scenic designation provides dedicated technical assistance, funding and research to protect and restore the river’s ecosystem.
- Technical support, monitoring and research to guide sound decision-making for local communities, saving time and money while preserving irreplaceable natural resources.
- Outreach and education opportunities to enhance understanding of the watershed and its characteristics. Publications, programs, workshops, and trainings promote resource values and best management practices offered for a range of audiences from school-aged children, to landowners to local highway departments and municipal commissions.
- Prevents federally funded or permitted projects determined to be adverse to the watershed’s outstanding resource values. Designation creates a specific mandate that no federally permitted or funded “water resource development project” shall be allowed that would have a “direct and adverse” impact upon the outstanding resource values that made the river eligible for designation.
- Forum to provide different perspectives and to share concerns, local knowledge and expertise. Every community has a representative who serves as a liaison for municipal boards and residents on issues important to the river and their community. They are a resource to you and someone you can talk to about issues such as riverbank erosion, ways to improve wildlife habitat, and availability of technical and funding resources.