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North River study begins next month in Colrain

COLRAIN — Thanks to a $61,200 federal grant, field work will begin next month to study the causes of erosion, habitat degradation and channel instability along the East Branch of the North River.

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments has hired Field Geology Services Inc. and Cole Ecological Inc. to do the study, which starts in October. Once factors that cause the riverbank erosion are understood, long-term, cost-effective solutions can be sought, to reduce future costly riverbank and infrastructure repairs, while improving the natural habitat of the watershed.

According to Kimberly Noake MacPhee, COG land-use and natural resources program manager, eroding banks can result in loss of farmland and can threaten bridges, houses and roadways. MacPhee said the grant was applied for at least a year before Tropical Storm Irene further damaged the riverbanks.

“The concerns are not only about Irene but also the floods of 2005 and other flood events,” MacPhee said.

She said the COG received a similar grant for a study of the South River Watershed in Conway and Ashfield, which has been a help in restoration efforts. “The goal is to get funding for assessments for all Deerfield River tributaries,” she said.

Residents living along the river may see consultants wading in the river and near riverbanks, during daylight hours. They may also need to cross private property to gain river access.

If you live along either the East Branch or the North River near the confluence of the east and west branches, contact Town Coordinator Kevin Fox in the Town Office if you have concerns about letting the consultants walk across your property to access the river.

MacPhee said a project kick-off will soon be scheduled. If you’d like your name added to the project mailing list, contact MacPhee at 413-774-3167, ext. 130 or at kmacphee@frcog.org.

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