The Environmental Institute at UMass Amherst to Assist Connecticut River Heritage Program

AMHERST, Mass. - The Environmental Institute at the University of Massachusetts will assist federal, state, and private agencies in developing a research data-base on the Connecticut River Watershed in support of the recent designation of the river as an American Heritage River, according to Institute director Joseph S. Larson.

Fourteen rivers in the United States were recently designated as heritage rivers, Larson said. Besides the Connecticut River, the Blackstone River in central Massachusetts and Rhode Island is the other local river to receive the designation.

Agencies that supported the nomination of the Connecticut River have also pledged to cooperate in a series of projects to benefit and protect the river, according to Larson, a professor of natural resources conservation.

These projects will need access to past and ongoing research results in order to develop their objectives and goals, Larson said. UMass has agreed to establish a World Wide Web site that will provide these agencies and the public with computer access to University research on the river and to encourage other colleges and universities that have done research on the Connecticut River to develop similar sites that would be linked to the UMass site.

The decision to engage UMass in the heritage river program came after a meeting held on the UMass campus between Environmental Institute staff and representatives from seven state and federal agencies and the Connecticut River Watershed Council.

"A lot of research information on the river is located in reports and publications that are not readily available," Larson said. "This project will be designed to let people know where the information can be found and who to contact. We also expect that as we develop the data base it will help identify needs for new information that could lead to new University research opportunities."