The Housatonic Stream Restoration for Regional Flood Resilience Project spans the City of Pittsfield and the Towns of Lenox, Stockbridge, and New Marlborough. A recent grant will allow the communities to complete road-stream crossing assessment for all their bridges and culverts.
LENOX — If you see a crew of young Berkshire youth studying bridges and culverts, it’s likely to be the Greenagers Youth Crew, funded through a Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Action Grant called Housatonic Stream Restoration for Regional Flood Resilience Project, to the tune of $295,190.
This regional project spans the City of Pittsfield and the Towns of Lenox, Stockbridge, and New Marlborough and involves multiple partners including Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), Trout Unlimited, Mass Audubon, and Greenagers.
Building on the four communities’ climate resilience MVP planning process, completed in 2021, these funds will allow the communities to complete road-stream crossing assessment for all their bridges and culverts, which will determine which need upgrading or improvements to best prepare for increased precipitation and flooding anticipated with climate change. These assessments and recommendations also look to promote better wildlife crossings and habitat connectivity, and mimic natural landscape benefits to support stormwater management that will alleviate damage to public infrastructure and reduce harm to neighborhoods, particularly those with vulnerable populations such as the elderly and traditionally underserved minority or low-income neighborhoods. All four communities identified these projects as urgent and necessary in its efforts to address ongoing climate change impacts.
This two-year project, set to conclude in 2023, will provide each community with a Road-stream Crossing Management Plan (RSCMP) that will include an inventory of each municipality’s road-stream crossings and a priority ranking for replacement culverts. The project will also complete preliminary designs to replace one priority culvert and make recommendations for nature-based solutions. Emphasis is placed on engaging with Environmental Justice neighborhoods and climate vulnerable populations while gathering qualitative data through storytelling and conversation with community elders.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and municipalities are partnering with local groups and nonprofits to both inform the community about the project and hear from residents what their greatest concerns are when it comes to flooding and current infrastructure. Community members interested in getting involved or learning more can contact Courtney Morehouse at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In addition to community engagement, there is a robust education component. Already partnered through a Natural Resources Damages grant, Mass Audubon and HVA will teach local students about climate change impacts, nature-based solutions for flood resilience, and floodplain mapping and how it contributes to climate resilience in elementary, middle and high schools throughout participating municipality school districts.
The MVP program has awarded more than $65 million in funding and technical support to communities across the state. With this year’s awards, 93 percent of Massachusetts cities and towns, or 328 municipalities total, are enrolled. Created in 2017 as part of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569, the MVP program pairs local leadership and knowledge with a significant investment of resources and funding from the Commonwealth to address ongoing climate change impacts such as sea level rise, inland flooding, storms, and extreme temperatures.