Facilitating a Restoration Agreement for the Lower Neponset River
CBI facilitates the Lower Neponset River Citizens Advisory Committee, helping them articulate shared priorities and adopt consensus recommendations for the restoration of the Lower Neponset River.
Background and Challenges
The Neponset River is a historic river that has served trade and industry in Massachusetts since the time of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. But three hundred and fifty years of development have contaminated the river with PCB, obstructed its flow, and degraded the natural habitats that surround it. When ecological studies revealed the need for restoration, the diverse communities along the river’s 29-mile length lacked a common vision for the river’s future.
To address this problem, the Neponset River Watershed Association hired CBI to convene community stakeholders and help them produce recommendations for restoring the Lower Neponset River. The Lower Neponset runs through Boston-area communities including Milton, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Dorchester. The stakeholder group’s task was to evaluate restoration options for the Tileston and Hollingsworth (T&H) Dam and the Baker Chocolate Dam.
The CBI Approach
CBI facilitates meetings of a diverse group of 26 stakeholders and agency liaisons, and helps them to identify shared priorities and to evaluate restoration options.
Working with state agencies, the Milton Conservation Commission, and the Neponset River Watershed Association, CBI convened a group of twenty-six organizations, associations, and neighborhoods known as the Lower Neponset River Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). CBI also brought in liaisons from key municipal and state agencies to participate in a Planning Group with the CAC. These agencies included the City of Boston Environmental and Energy Services, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Department of Fish and Game (including its Riverways Program and Division of Marine Fisheries), the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Over the course of the next year, CBI facilitated eight meetings of the Citizens Advisory Committee, where presenters discussed technical problems including sediment and soil contamination, fish passage, flood control, public access, and technical feasibility.
During this process, CBI helped members of the Citizens Advisory Committee articulate seven shared priorities to guide restoration:
- Protection of human health and safety
- Restoration of the riverine ecosystem
- Preservation of the vitality and character of the adjacent businesses, neighborhoods, and landscapes
- Respect for the river’s industrial and natural history
- Enhancement of public access to and awareness of the river
- Flood protection
- Financial and technical feasibility
With CBI’s guidance, the CAC evaluated restoration options for the Lower Neponset dams in light of these priorities.
CBI’s process produces recommendations adopted by consensus and supported by key outside stakeholders.
Working with the agency liaisons on the Planning Group, the Lower Neponset River Citizens Advisory Committee crafted consensus recommendations for restoring the Lower Neponset River. All signatories of the CAC agreed upon the recommendations, as did the Milton Conservation Commission, who had helped sponsor the CAC, and the Milton Board of Selectmen. By engaging many stakeholders and bringing in key agency liaisons, CBI helped a diverse community articulate their shared priorities and produce realistic recommendations to restore a valuable resource.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/cowbark