Apr 10 2009
STATE GRANTS THE HOUSATONIC ACEC STATUS
Save The Housatonic is proud to announce that 13 miles of the Housatonic River and the land that surrounds it have been declared an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The designation covers a total of 12,276 acres of river, floodplain, and upland.
On March 31, 2009 Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles announced:
The new designation promises greater protection for the region’s unique natural and cultural resources.
The new ACEC includes a 13-mile corridor of the Housatonic River, adjacent floodplains, tributary streams, and the western slopes of October Mountain State Forest. It augments more than 2,000 acres within two other ACECs – Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin and Hinsdale Flats Watershed – in the towns of Lee and Washington.
“During the extensive public process that led up today’s designation, my office heard from hundreds of Berkshire residents, organizations and public officials,” Secretary Bowles said. “The community and regional support for this ACEC was overwhelmingly positive, and this designation will help create an important framework for the long-term preservation and stewardship of these outstanding resources.”
The 30-page decision document specifically declines to exempt the EPA and the various industrial and municipal properties that sought exclusions.
It quotes the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife’s endorsement which states that “the Housatonic River watershed is one of the most biologically rich and unique regions of the Commonwealth supporting one of the highest densities of state-listed species in the state.”
And it notes that 93% of the ACEC is delineated as an area representing the highest priority for biodiversity protection in Massachusetts.
This is a victory for the River, for those who live beside the river, for those who hike, canoe, hunt and fish and bird-watch. It is a victory for the varied forms of plant and animal life that make the Upper Housatonic their home.
It is a victory for citizen participation and for the combined power of ordinary Berkshire-ites and their representatives. Together, we demonstrated an overwhelming consensus for protecting the environment we regard as precious and irreplaceable.
Our great thanks go out to the many organizations who joined together to save the Housatonic, to all of you who took the time to attend public meetings, to write letters and contact your state representatives and state senator and Secretary Bowles, and to those of you who signed our petition.
Green Berkshires will be celebrating the ACEC (and its own fifth birthday) with an Open House at our office on Earth Day, April 22, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. We’re on the second floor at 292 Main Street, Great Barrington. Save the date! Please join us.
Note: you can download Secretary Bowles’ press release, the designation document, and his letter to Save The Housatonic on our Documents page.
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