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Deerfield River Watershed Association
Smart Growth
vs Sprawl
Open Space
Back to Ecology
How we use land in the watershed has a direct and most important effect on water quality and habitat


MassAcorn (A CoOperative Resource Network) is an interactive website designed specifically for woodland owners and enthusiasts in the Westfield and Deerfield River watersheds. MassACORN features interactive mapping, extensive local information/resources, and an Ask the Expert section, for all your forestry, conservation, and land use questions.
Contact info:massacorn@nrc.umass.edu 413.577.1562

The Franklin Land Trust has moved to 36 State Street in Shelburne Falls. It is an excellent organization helping preserve land in our watershed, and we encourage all to donate to them!

Open Space

See the Final Draft of the watershed-wide Open Space and Recreation Plan! These are PDF files. Need Adobe Acrobat to read. Download program for free. The final document is available from the Shelburne Falls library.

Title Page
Table of Content

Chapter 1: Summary
Chapter 2: Introduction
Chapter 3: Community Setting
Chapter 4: Environmental Inventory and Analysis
Chapter 5: Inventory of Lands with Conservation and Recreation Interest
Chapter 6: Community Goals
Chapter 7: Analysis of Needs
Chapter 8: Goals and Objectives
Chapter 9: Ten-Year Action Plan
Chapter 10: Public Comment
Chapter 11: References

Also take a look at the Charlemont Recreationand Open Space site.

The Deerfield River watershed Team has funded Open Space plans for several towns in the watershed that didn't have any yet, and also is funding a regional open space plan for the whole watershed. Our November 16, 2002 conference in Buckland, MA was devoted to the topic.

Go to the Massachusetts Land Trust Organization web site to read an interesting paper on how Saving Land Lowers Taxes, by Robert Levite. This site is also a good place to find out about conservation easements, how to start a land trust, conservation gifts, conservation restrictions, government land acquisition assistance programs, and more!

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Smart Growth vs Sprawl

(content borrowed from River Network)

What is sprawl? Sprawl is a dispersed pattern of urban growth that has substantial negative impacts on communities and the environment due to the spread-out location and configuration of new buildings and inter-linking, normally impervious surfaces.

What are some of the negative impacts of sprawl? Sprawl has many adverse social and environmental effects. Research has demonstrated that sprawl development typically causes increases in traffic; increases in taxes and fees necessary to pay for infrastructure and provide services; increases in air pollution and related public health problems such as lung disease; an increasingly sedentary population and related public health problems such as obesity; loss of revenue for older towns; loss of a sense of neighborhood/community cohesion; and greater response times for emergency services. In addition, sprawl development is generally highly consumptive of critical land, water and wildlife resources.

What is Smart Growth? Smart Growth strives to encourage and support patterns and methods of new development that result in high-quality communities and substantial open space preservation. One of the key goals of Smart Growth is revitalizing and redeveloping existing communities. Many older failing towns are ripe for economic revival and Smart Growth promotes redevelopment of older areas over development of open space.

What are some of the characteristics of Smart Growth? Mixed land uses; compact, clustered community design; range of housing choice and opportunity; walkable neighborhoods; distinctive, attractive communities offering a sense of place; open space, farmland, and scenic resource preservation; water resource conservation and protection; future development strengthened and directed to existing communities using existing infrastructure; transportation option variety; predictable, fair and cost-effective development decisions; and community and stakeholder collaboration in development decision-making.

Farm Land

The Farmland Protection Toolbox: A fact sheet from the American Farmland Trust describing the tools and techniques that state and local governments are using to protect farmland and ensure the economic viability of agriculture.


DRWA Annual Meeting
Tuesday Oct 21 2008, 6:30 - 9pm
Four Rivers Charter Public School Community Room - 248 Colrain Rd, Greenfield MA ( Directions)
6:30pm Light refreshements
7pm Election of DRWA Board of Directors
7:05pm: Program

At The 2008 DRWA Annual Meeting, our featured speaker will be Tom Wessels giving a talk base on his book “Reading the Forested Landscape, A Natural History of New England. " It introduces people to approaches used to interpret a forest's history while wandering through it. Using evidence such as the shapes of trees, scars on their trunks, the pattern of decay in stumps, the construction of stone walls, and the lay of the land, it is possible to unravel complex stories etched into our forested landscape. This process could easily be called forest forensics, since it is quite similar to interpreting a crime scene. Tom says: “It is wonderful to know nature through one-on-one encounters with other organisms, but it is perhaps more empowering to gain a fuller understanding of the patterns that have shaped its landscapes. Through some knowledge of history and the broader view of seeing a forest and not just its trees, we begin to see the forces that shape a place. This new way of seeing creates reverence, respect, a sense of inclusion and accountability. Reading the landscape is not just about identifying landscape patterns; more importantly, it is an interactive narrative that involves humans and nature. For those interested in enhancing their sense of place, I know of no better way than by becoming intimately acquainted with their local forests and the fascinating stories they tell.”

Tom Wessels is an ecologist and founding director of the Master's Degree program in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. He is former chair of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation that fosters environmental leadership through graduate fellowships and organizational grants. He serves as an ecological consultant to the Rain forest Alliance 's SmartWood Green Certification Program. In that capacity Tom helped draft green certification assessment guidelines for forest operations in the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Tom has conducted landscape level workshops throughout the United States for over 30 years. His books include: Reading the Forested Landscape, The Granite Landscape, Untamed Vermont , and The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future.

Much of our watershed is forested. Very little of our forest is old growth. You can see some old growth forest in the Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont:

Mohawk Trail State Forest, Route 2, Charlemont, MA

Directions from Greenfield: Follow Route 2 along the Deerfield River through the town of Charlemont. Mohawk Trail State Forest is just a few miles beyond Charlemont on the right. Drive past the headquarters and camping area until you reach a gated wood road. There will be two outhouses nearby. Follow the wood road, past a small former pond (a CCC project, that now acts like a vernal pool), and begin down the hill. On the left will be a small, easily overlooked trail that leads down a steep hill to a cluster of New England champion white pines. Two of these measure 160 feet in height. You can continue down slope into the meadow. If you cut about halfway across and then go back up the slope, you will go through some younger forest and then reach a band of old growth sugar maple and yellow birch that is on a very rugged, rocky, steep slope. Wonderful forest. (text borrowed from WFCR)

But most of our woods have been cut at some point or many times. Learn more about the forest in our watershedt and how to manage it wisely at MassWoods.

MassAcorn is an interactive website for landowners and others interested in forests in the Deerfield and Westfield rivers watersheds

Do you have suggestions or would like to contribute content to this page? Please contact drwa@deerfieldriver.org

This web site made possible in part by the Valley Charitable Trust Fund administered by Fleet National Bank,
and by the Community Foundation for Western Massachusetts

Revised 9/28/08 by MF Walk . DRWA HOME