A BALANCE NEEDED TO BE STRUCK.
After the major water projects of the 1930’s, ‘40s, and ‘50s American rivers were battered. In 1968 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act providing a mechanism to protect the remaining free flowing rivers.
It was appropriate for the Upper 14 miles of the Farmington to be included as a Wild and Scenic River after a failed attempt in 1981 to divert West Branch waters into the East Branch reservoir system. The Farmington is classified as a “Recreational” river in the Act. It is also among the first “partnership river” as protection comes from Federal, State and local interest groups and municipalities.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR PROTECTIONS NOW IN PLACE?
- Adoption of municipal land use ordinances.
- Federal review of projects that might harm the river and its environment.
- Approval of the Upper Farmington River Management Plan
- Establishment of a Coordinating Committee to protect the outstanding remarkable values of Recreation, Fish and Wildlife, Scenic, and Historic.
WHAT HAVE THE BENEFITS BEEN?
- Maintenance and improvement of water quality, affecting the downstream waters that flow into Long Island Sound.
- Establishment of the Farmington River Coordinating Committee, which provides a way for all river interests to communicate with each other and develop joint protection measures. Members come from the five river front municipalities, CT DEEP, National Park Service, Farmington River Watershed Association, Metropolitan District of Hartford, CT and the Farmington River Anglers Association.
- Federal funding to assist in project expenses.
- Cooperation between towns and State on projects such as bank stabilization and planning documents.
- Public education of the value of the river through River Stewards, public program, social media and art exhibits.