Watershed Planning

Resilient Taunton Watershed Network (RTWN)

RTWN's overarching goal is to promote the resiliency of the Taunton Watershed in the face of climate change and development, considering ecological outcomes as well as economic, social, and environmental justice issues.

What "R-TOWN" Does

A true partnership model, RTWN members meet bi-monthly to leverage our combined resources, knowledge, and skills, and work through an integrated watershed approach towards measurable results in order to:

  • Advance both ecological and economic well-being by protecting natural resources;
  • Promote ecological restoration;
  • Integrate climate change concerns;
  • Support future development patterns that use land and infrastructure efficiently; and
  • Assist municipal officials and residents in meeting their local goals while considering a broader watershed perspective.

A resilient watershed is one that has the capacity to adjust to stresses and disturbances, while still able to provide valuable ecosystem services and functions, such as provision of a clean and plentiful water supply and flood protection. We are working together to identify and implement the most promising solutions that advance both ecological and economic well-being by protecting existing green infrastructure, promoting ecological restoration, integrating climate change concerns, and supporting programs and future development patterns that use land and infrastructure efficiently to improve conditions for all residents.

RTWN Visual Case Study

Learn more about how RTWN started and how we operate by viewing our visual case study.

The Taunton River Watershed

The Wild and Scenic Taunton River Watershed encompasses 339,077 acres of land across 42 towns. Its riverine and aquatic habitats contain a richness of natural communities. The watershed is home to more than 154 species of birds, 29 native species of fish, and is part of the largest herring run in New England. The watershed is home to more than 360 plant species, some of which are globally rare.

The Taunton River is the longest free‐flowing coastal river (undammed) in New England at 40 miles. The Taunton is one of the two largest contributors of fresh water to Narragansett Bay. These features, local support, and SRPEDD leadership achieved a federal designation as a Wild & Scenic River for the Taunton River from Congress and the National Parks Service.

Maintaining the species and unique resource values of the Taunton River Watershed in balance requires attention and forethought. The Taunton Watershed ranks #4 out of 32 watersheds statewide for the amount of development that occurred between 2012-2017 (Losing Ground: Nature's Value in a Changing Climate, MassAudubon, 2020). Over 60% of the land in the watershed is undeveloped, but only 17% is protected.

RTWN's Five Things to Improve Resilience

The RTWN team highlights five important steps to improve watershed resilience:

  1. Take advantage of nature - embrace the numerous free ecosystem services that nature has to offer.
  2. Be smart with regulations and bylaws - ensure they work together to encourage the type of development you wish to see in your community.
  3. Think ahead and plan  - be ready to take action on priority projects.
  4. Be opportunistic - work with others to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
  5. Look around - keep an eye out for easy, proactive fixes.

Find out more in this resource

Watershed Plans and Studies

Learn more about all that is happening across the watershed, from previous studies, ongoing monitoring and new and upcoming projects. This page will continually be updated as work happens, so check back for updates!

Current work:

Watershed-wide plans & studies:

Sub-watershed plans & studies:

Planning Resources from our Partners

Bylaw Review Tool - Mass Audubon's downloadable excel-based tool can help determine whether climate resilience is built into local regulations, and identify opportunities for improvement. The SNEP Network has a storymap overview of how to use the tool, as well as training workshops.

Buffer Restoration Toolkit - coming soon!

New England Stormwater Retrofit Manual - this in-depth guide provides planning tools to maximize water quality benefits through stormwater controls.

Watershed-Scale Climate Collaboration Toolkit - coming soon from the Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network (Mass ECAN), this resource will support watershed-scale collaboratives by making regional climate adaptation planning more approachable.

Climate Resilient Land Use Strategies Toolkit - This collection of existing policies and regulatory language gathered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) highlights steps communities can take to reduce local vulnerabilities to climate impacts.

Value of Nature Fact Sheets - this series of fact sheets from Mass Audubon presents the many economic benefits communities receive from various natural habitat types.

Nature Based Solutions Siting Tool - this interactive online map from The Nature Conservancy helps identify potential locations where nature-based solutions may provide resilience benefits.

Environmental Justice in the Narragansett Bay Region - this story map explores what environmental justice is and how it is impacting the watershed, and provides an interactive map to view regional data.

Losing Ground report and data: explore findings from Mass Audubon's most recent report, and get development statistics by town, watershed, or county.

LID Fact sheets & resources - this series of five fact sheets from Mass Audubon reviews how low impact development (LID) can help communities save land, water, and money.

Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program resources - Learn about state resources and grant opportunities that support local climate adaptation and resilience planning. MVP offers several planning toolkits, including on Nature-Based Solutions and Environmental Justice & Equity.

Resilient MA - the climate change clearinghouse for Massachusetts, this website synthesizes climate change research and modeling for the region, and has an interactive map for viewing local and regional climate trends and projections.

New England Landscape Futures Explorer - this interactive map can be used to explore regional trends in land use and projections for what the future may look like.

Smart Growth / Smart Energy Toolkit - This series of training modules and model bylaws help communities adopt smart growth and low impact development strategies.

Join Us!

You can become a member of RTWN to stay informed and to share your knowledge of the needs and issues in the watershed. All are welcome!