In 1994, 14 miles of the Upper Farmington River — stretching from Colebrook to Canton — was added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system with an act of Congress.
In Fall, 2003, FRWA embarked upon an effort to have the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook similarly considered for this tremendous distinction.
FRWA sought letters of support from 10 towns – Avon, Bloomfield, Burlington, Canton, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, Hartland, Simsbury, and Windsor – and based on a strong showing of support, our Congressional leaders introduced “The Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic Study Act” in 2004 and then again in 2005. Senators Dodd & Lieberman introduced a bill that passed the Senate in late 2005, and in November, 2006 the House passed a companion bill with the support of Congressional Reps Nancy Johnson and John Larson. On November 27, 2006 the bill, S. 435, was signed into law by President Bush.
Thus begins the Feasibility Study that will involve volunteers from the 10 towns who will oversee research into areas of interest, and will work with the National Park Service to develop a management plan to help protect the outstanding natural, recreational, and/or cultural values of the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook.
FRWA was proud not only to testify before the Senate in Washington, but also to have the opportunity to introduce testimony prepared by several supporting organizations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s): for those readers who may not know about Wild & Scenic, we offer the following section:
Q: What criteria do we have to meet for Wild & Scenic designation?
A: To be considered “Wild and Scenic” a river must have at least one “outstandingly remarkable” natural, cultural or recreational value pursuant to the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. 1271-1287).
Q: Do we meet the criteria?
A: We believe the Lower Farmington and Salmon Brook meet the Wild & Scenic criteria in several ways, but the study is designed to provide an unbiased assessment of our most unique, outstanding features.
Q: What are the Benefits of Wild & Scenic designation?
A: There are several:
- Designation would protect the Farmington from new projects requiring federal money and permits such as dams and hydroelectric facilities;
- The 3-year feasibility study process includes developing a conservation plan for the River with stakeholder buy-in. This conservation plan would address the major issues of the watershed, sprawling growth, impervious surfaces, bacteria contamination, et cetera;
- The cost of the study is borne by the National Park Service, and the towns will benefit from the information collected as well as the stewardship and awareness of the River’s outstanding resources that will be created;
- Once designation is finalized, there would be a steady stream of funding for local river work. The Farmington River Coordinating Committee (FRCC) on the Upper Farmington typically receives between $32,000 and $55,000 annually to assist in implementing the conservation plan created through the study;
- The recently released study, “Use and Economic Importance of the West Branch Farmington River” provides tangible economic benefit information that shows how Wild & Scenic designation benefits Towns, local businesses, and land values.
Q: How long does this process take?
A: The typical study period to develop a conservation plan for the river is three years. The study on the upper watershed took five years, but we have experience, information, and a track record of success on our side this time around.
For more information on Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers, please visit the National Park Service’s website, or visit the website of the Farmington River Coordinating Committee that oversees the Wild & Scenic stretch of the Upper Farmington that was designated in 1994.