With increasing crowds converging at sites along the Housatonic River, area leaders and organizations are coming together to find a longterm plan for safe and equitable access.
Housatonic Valley Association and Housatonic River Commission have joined forces to mitigate the problem. With many public beaches and pools closed due to the pandemic, more visitors are coming to the river for recreational purposes, resulting in public safety concerns and littering. There also are concerns about social distancing.
With support from HRC, First Light Power and Eversource Energy, HVA created the River Information and Outreach program in 2018. RIO staff visit popular spots along the river each weekend between July 4 and Labor Day to encourage behavior that keeps the river clean, and provide information about site closures and river conditions.
“RIO has had a positive impact on these unmanaged access sites,” said Lindsay Larson, HVA conservation projects manager.
HVA’s RIO stewards have been out on the Housatonic between North Kent Road and Great Falls every weekend this summer.
“Recreational use of the Housatonic, specifically for uses we aren’t as familiar with, like picnicking, has been increasing steadily for years now,” said Mike Jastremski, HVA’s watershed conservation director. “What we’re seeing in 2020 shouldn’t be surprising, with so many places folks might go to beat the heat closed.”
HRC and HVA will organize mediated conversations about river access this fall and winter, and are seeking public input.
“Creating good, solid access points along the Housatonic is a core part of our mission,” said William Tingley, HRC chairman. “I’m happy to have HVA