River Resources for Towns

The ten towns within the upper Westfield River watershed...

actively and successfully supported the Congressional designation of the Westfield River as Wild & Scenic in 1993. The federal designation brings official recognition of the remarkable attributes of the river and the towns the river flows through. It provides funding and assistance to help enhance this outstanding local resource including technical assistance from the National Park Services and the Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee to help protect and enhance the river. The ten Wild & Scenic towns are encouraged to work with Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee and the National Park Service and see them as a resource to help us all steward the Westfield River wisely for the benefit of current and future generations..

The Westfield River Wild & Scenic communities are: Becket, Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington, Middlefield, Savoy, Washington, Windsor and Worthington.

Here are some ways we encourage towns to work with us enhance the river:

Wild & Scenic Westfield River Conservation and Stewardship Grants:

The Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee offers grants of up to $20,000 available to the ten Wild & Scenic towns and local nonprofit organizations.  These Conservation and Stewardship Grants are intended to advance projects supporting and enhancing the protection and enjoyment of the Wild and Scenic sections of the Westfield River and its outstanding resources and work to advance the Westfield River Conservation and Stewardship Plan.

Grant Guideline

Grant Application

Technical Assistance


Emerging Alternatives to Salt for Ice Control on Roadways:

Brine can reduce the environmental impact of road salt and lower the cost of road maintenance personnel. Public works staff in New England undertake the annual ritual of outfitting their trucks with plows and sanding equipment with the approach of winter. This typically includes purchasing and storing mountains of rock salt, maintaining sanders, replacing plow blades, and trying to predict the overtime budget needed for staff to head out when icy conditions arrive at inconvenient hours. There are alternatives available that handle icy roads more effectively and reduce annual costs in staff and materials. The Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee supports the switch to brine (liquid salt or other comparable solutions) that are used to pre-treat roads and prevent the build up of ice.

Learn About Brine vs. Rock Salt

How the City of Westfield Uses Brine: Visit the Wild & Scenic Video library and enjoy a video about Westfield MA’s experience with using brine for ice control.

Video Link Coming Soon.


Upgrading Road/Stream Crossings:

Uninterrupted water flow is the foundation of the federal Wild & Scenic Program. The Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee works with the ten Wild & Scenic towns to upgrade road/stream crossings to meet current standards. These standards were adopted to make sure road crossings can handle large volumes of water without failing, letting roads flood or sustaining crippling damage. With global warming leading to more dramatic storm flow in the region, undersized culverts and road crossings are a growing infrastructure problem and challenge for town budgets.

Both towns and the river benefit from properly-sized, upgraded road crossings that reduce barriers in the river and on the river banks. These allow fish and mammals to move through or along the river freely. Upgraded crossings also reduce the instability of river banks, improve water quality and result in a more natural flow pattern. The Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee provides technical assistance and funding for culvert upgrades and removal of other barriers to free flow. We also assist with restoration of degraded river sections and water quality problems..

All ten Wild & Scenic towns have benefited from the Road Stream Upgrade Program.

More about our program:

Other Resources:

Division of Ecological Restoration Grants

The Commonwealth’s Division of Ecological Restoration assists towns and dam owners in removing failing, redundant or undesired dams. The Division offers a range of assistance to help with dam removal. For more information on being selected for assistance or to learn more about the merits of dam removal visit the DER website:

MA Division of Ecological Restoration - Dam Removal

American River Restoration

The National Park Services Guide to Protecting River Flow:

Instream Flow Technical Report


Invasive Plant Management and Removal

A small subset of plants not native to New England (or even North America) have become a challenge for towns and homeowners alike. Even in the heavily forested and mostly undeveloped Westfield River watershed, invasive plants are common both in the forest and in and along the river. Since these nonnative plants have been introduced there are few if any natural checks and balances on their growth allowing them to degrade the landscape. These nuisance plants can overwhelm native plant communities, clog drainage structures, undermine foundations and reduce the habitat and food supply for animals, birds and insects.

There are no easy solutions for some of the most pernicious of invasive plants including knotweed (fallopia japonica), garlic mustard (alliaria petiolata), phragmites (Phgragmites australis), barberry and multi-flora rose. The Wild & Scenic River Committee is actively working to find effective non-chemical management methods. Our summer intern program includes research and work days for manually removing invasives. We actively participate in regional working groups, offer removal training sessions for landowners, and provide grant funding to towns to manage problem patches.  

More information on invasives:

Massachusetts Government Guide to Invasive Plant

Invasive Plants

North American Invasive Species Management Association Factsheet

Fact Sheets


Guide to Invasive Species


Green Infrastructure

The foundation of green infrastructure revolves around a simple goal: absorption of rainfall.  Quick absorption of rain and runoff involves soil, plants and purposeful landscaping.  Green infrastructure can reduce or eliminate localized flooding and ice on roads. It improves water quality in local water-bodies, increases climate resiliency, and creates attractive landscapes that are better habitats for wildlife. The Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee offers technical assistance, funding and other resources for green infrastructure projects.

Learn more about  green infrastructure:

US EPA Resources

An Introduction: from the American Rivers Organization

The EPA Guide to Green Infrastructure Funding

List of Green Infrastructure-Regional Projects


Amending Town Bylaws for River Protection

Towns may wish to consider amending town bylaws to increase protection of the Wild & Scenic Westfield River segments.  The Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee encourages towns to codify issues around water quality degradation, spread of invasive plant and animal species, river channel erosion, embankment instability and flooding. This work may include updating bylaws to expand existing conservation or planning regulations or adopting an overlay district for flood prone areas, the river corridor or steep slopes. An overlay district can offer additional protection and guidance relative to activity near a river or stream. The Pioneer or Berkshire Regional Planning Councils can provide guidance and additional information.

Resources for Bylaws

Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions List of Bylaws, Model Bylaw for Wetland Protection. (Visit their library website and scroll to MACC Model Bylaws, Regulations and Policies):

List of Bylaws

Example of a River Protection Overlay District from Connecticut

Overlay Protection Districts