Oral Presentation International Conference on River Connectivity (Fish Passage 2018)

Landscape scale adoption of barrier removal and floodplain restoration to help fish and people adapt to climate change (#53)

Alison A Bowden 1
  1. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA, United States

The Taunton River, a ~1300 km2 watershed in Massachusetts, USA hosts one of the largest river herring runs in New England and is federally designated Wild and Scenic. Since 2005 2 unmaintained dams in the watershed caused high profile emergencies. Concern for public safety catalyzed statewide policy changes to expedite restoration permitting and increased funding. Record floods in the watershed in 2010 again highlighted the need for communities to plan pro-actively to increase their resilience in the face of extreme weather events.  The Nature Conservancy and US EPA New England Region founded the Resilient Taunton Watershed Network (RTWN) to advance consideration and use of nature based solutions (NBS) to increase climate resilience, natural hazard mitigation, water quality and fish habitat goals. Healthy, intact natural systems provide multiple benefits to the challenges posed by climate change. Forests and wetlands sequester carbon, helping to limit global warming. Natural systems also enhance watershed resiliency by protecting biodiversity and limiting water pollution and flooding from heavy precipitation events. Members of the network have mapped green infrastructure resources as climate assets, developed case studies, and created a training program. Integrated strategies may lower overall adaptation costs and provide wide-scale multi-criteria benefits.

In 2016, the statewide Municipal Vulnerability and Preparedness program launched, providing communities state funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans to identify existing and future vulnerabilities and strengths related to extreme weather and climate hazards, and identify opportunities to act to reduce risk and build resilience. Certified communities are eligible for follow-up grant funding and other opportunities. The program was funded with $1M in 2017, and in 2018 proposed bond authorization for the program was $50M. Addressing climate risks to people and nature in a holistic framework is creating new opportunities to protect and restore fish habitat at landscape scale.