Communities Receive Help in Protecting Blackstone River

By ecoRI News staff

Five Massachusetts communities in the Blackstone River watershed — Auburn, Grafton Mendon, Millbury and Worcester — were recently selected to receive technical assistance for local low-impact development (LID) and land-use planning projects to improve water quality and stormwater management.

Technical assistance is being offered through the partnership of Mass Audubon, the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, Horsley Witten Group Inc. and the Blackstone River Coalition.

This free, tailored technical assistance will address a separate set of needs for each community. Four of the communities have chosen to receive assistance in reviewing local land-use regulations to better support LID and green infrastructure.

Auburn, Grafton and Mendon plan to protect their natural green spaces and the ecosystem services they provide through conservation design. The city of Worcester will continue progress on greening the community. This strategy will include tree plantings, incorporation of LID into redevelopment and road reconstruction projects, and improving erosion and sedimentation control.

Millbury has chosen public engagement and planning assistance to green its downtown center, which will both improve aesthetics and protect the adjoining Blackstone River.

All five communities also will receive GIS maps depicting existing natural green infrastructure, water resources, and priority protection and development areas. These maps will assist communities in making informed decisions about local development and conservation.