Fort River viewed from the Rt. 116 Bridge looking southeast. Photo: Art Keene


The Baker-Polito Administration has announced that seven local projects targeting pollution from storm water runoff and erosion will receive more than $1 million in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The projects are based in Amherst, Spencer, Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampden Counties.

The Town of Amherst has received $276,549, the second largest grant award in this round, to restore and reconnect the Fearing Brook to its floodplain. This is expected to  increase nutrient and sediment retention, decrease bacteria, and reduce erosion.

The work will be done on Amherst Conservation land near the East Village Center. The Fearing Brook is an urban stream that receives storm water from about half of the downtown area and flows into the Fort River. The project will recreate a flood plain that will slow the flow of runoff, and mitigate flooding impacts prior to the confluence with the river.

“The importance and uniqueness of the Fort River cannot be understated,” said Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek. “It is the longest un-dammed tributary of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts, containing a number of state-listed species and one federal-listed endangered species.”.  

“Comprehensive watershed protection efforts like these are critical in order to keep our communities safe and healthy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen A. Theoharides. “These grants will help local officials and regional groups protect and enhance vital local watershed resources from non-point source pollution.”

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