While much of the Housatonic from New Milford north to the Massachusetts border, together with the Shepaug-Bantam tributary, qualified for protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, riverside communities have opted for local protection by establishing cooperative river commissions.
In 1985, The Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), a non-profit watershed protection group, played a primary role in gaining permanent protection for 1,800 acres of river corridor land between Kent and Sharon through easement and acquisition by the National Park Service for the Appalachian Trail.
Because of intensive residential, commercial and industrial development throughout the valley, riverfront protection is even more critical to ensure the continued enjoyment of this naturally beautiful river valley. Today, HVA continues its efforts to maintain the beauty and natural diversity of the river ecosystem through its Housatonic RiverBelt project. The goal of the project is to assist and support the development of local riverfront plans, bringing them together into a comprehensive plan with a greenway as the major component. This greenway links together existing parks, open space parcels, pathways and trails within the river corridor from its Massachusetts source to Long Island Sound.