Franklin Land Trust: Crowningshield Conservation Area Habitat Restoration Project

The Franklin Land Trust is working with Trout Unlimited and other partners to implement a series of actions to help riparian forests and coldwater streams adapt to climate change.

Project Area

The Franklin Land Trust acquired a 96-acre farm in 2015. The property is bisected by the upper reach of the West Branch of the North River, a subwatershed of the Deerfield River. The parcel, previously owned by the Crowningshield family, consists of roughly 15-20 acres of abandoned pasture used for dairy cows, with the remainder in forest with a derelict sugar house on the property. The West Branch and its tributaries are state-listed coldwater fishery resources, running through a fairly narrow and winding valley through the property. Much of the property has rolling to steep slopes. The property contains over 1 mile of frontage along the West Branch of the North River.

Management Goals

A rocky forest stream

The overarching management goals for this project are to:

  • Enhance stream habitat for native fish by increasing complexity of river geomorphology
  • Enhance habitat resilience for wildlife and plants in river system in face of flood, drought and higher temperatures
  • Protect local infrastructure from extreme weather events by reducing flow velocity
  • Engage stakeholders (town, landowners, anglers, regulators) in process and promulgate these practices

Climate Change Impacts

In regard to the water resources and stream habitat, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Warmer air temperatures, which would lead to increased water temperatures and cause stress to trout and other coldwater aquatic organisms.
Warmer temperatures could also increase hemlock woolly adelgid insects, resulting in loss of hemlock trees in riparian forests and reducing stream shading.
Changes in seasonal precipitation, with projected increases during the cold-season, possible decreases in the summer months, and changes in the timing of both low and high streamflows
Increases in extreme events, particularly storms with high rainfall.

Adaptation Actions

The Franking Land Trust, Trout Unlimited, and other local partners received a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fund to improve the ability of the North River Watershed to cope with changing conditions. As part of this project, the Franklin Land Trust is demonstrating climate-informed options for enhancing in-stream habitat on the Crowningshield property and West Branch of the North River. Land trust staff and partners used the Adaptation Workbook to identify restoration and adaptation activities for implementation across these sites (see table below). Outreach materials for foresters, land trusts, and municipalities are also being developed in addition to the implementation of on-the-ground actions. 

1.2. Maintain or restore hydrology.
7.1. Reduce landscape fragmentation.
Install large wood additions into streams to improve habitat structure, increase stream complexity, and maintain or improve thermal refugia
Stabilize banks along the main stem of the North River to prevent further erosion, sedimentation, and bank failure.
Use wood additions and other modifications to reconnect the river to its natural forest floodplain.
Upland and riparian forests
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
Invasive species removal.


Franklin Land Trust and Trout Unlimited, with the assistance of Cole Ecological, Inc and graduate students from Antioch University New England, has established sediment cross-sections, placed thermal loggers to monitor in-stream temperature, conducted a macroinvertebrate survey, and photo log of the project sites. Temperature loggers will continuously record stream temperature once an hour for at least two years post construction. Sediment cross-sections and photo logs will be updated twice a year in the fall and spring. A macroinvertebrate survey will be conducted once a year. Additional fish and wildlife surveys will be conducted prior to construction and for at least two years post construction. In the forest and riparian areas, monitoring will be used to evaluate the forested condition of riparian areas (tree health, amount of stream shading) and the species composition. Invasive plant species will also be monitored to ensure favorable riparian forest conditions.

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

A rocky stream in a forest.
A stream running through a forest.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Maria or learn more at:


Flooding, Insect pests, Invasive species, Lowland/ bottomland hardwoods, Fish habitat, Infrastructure, Refugia, Restoration, Water resources

Last Updated

Wednesday, May 10, 2017