The North River Watershed covers 93 square miles of land, which is primarily forested (83%), agricultural lands (13%), and urban development (4%) and includes 193 miles of streams. Several property owners worked on this project, including the H.O. Cook State Forest managed by the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation and privately owned parcels conserved through the Franklin Land Trust. The parcels consist of primarily northern hardwood forest with areas of lowland hardwood and conifer forest. Areas near streams tend to have steep slopes and narrow valleys, and have been identified as coldwater fishery resources.
All land owners and professionals participating in this landscape-scale project shared common strategic interests that span their individual management goals and objectives, including:
- Maintaining healthy and productive forests
- Maintaining and improving the integrity of the watershed
- Improving habitat and stream connectivity to benefit trout and other aquatic organisms
- Enhancing the ability of the watershed to cope with extreme precipitation events
Climate Change Impacts
Challenges and Opportunities
After considering the effects of climate change on the North River Watershed, staff from Trout Unlimited identified adaptation actions to target the following four issues:
- Stream warming and species’ access to thermal refugia
- Invasive species infiltration and associated tree mortality
- Geomorphologic instability and associated sedimentation
- Loss of road-stream infrastructure due to undersized hydraulic capacity
Trout Unlimited and 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. The project team used the Adaptation Workbook to identify restoration and adaptation activities for implementation.
3.3: Maintain or improve the ability of forests to resist pests and pathogens
4.1: Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions