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Designation Origin Stories | The Farmington River

In August 1994, 14 miles of the West Branch (Upper) Farmington River were added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. In March 2019, under the Dingell Act, an additional 1.1-mile section was added for a current total of 15.1 designated miles of the Upper Farmington River. National Wild and Scenic Rivers must include at least one Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV), a river value that warrants designation. The Farmington River boasts the following outstanding river resources: excellent water quality, rich history, recreational opportunities, and fish and wildlife.

Water rushes over pebbles down the Farmington River. Photo Credit: Tim Palmer.
Water rushes over pebbles down the Farmington River. Photo Credit: Tim Palmer.


In the late 1980s, citizens and members of the Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) were worried about water quality issues and the potential diversion of water from the West Branch of the Farmington River. FRWA brought people together, and, with assistance from Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, got a bill passed to study the river for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. They believed protection afforded by the designation would be helpful for protecting the river and its unique resources from harmful projects such as more dams or diversions. This was one of the first Wild and Scenic River studies that included developing a management plan for the river as part of the study and pulled together a diverse array of community members to take part in the process – leading to a partnership in future management.

The designation of the Upper Farmington River is a prime example of how the Partnership Wild and Scenic River model can successfully function. Rather than continue an increasingly difficult relationship, river interests, advocates and adversaries alike came together to prepare a management plan and seek designation. Post-designation, they continue to partner for the best interest of the river. In addition to local representatives of each riverfront town appointed by town selectboards, partners from the CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), the Farmington River Anglers Association (FRAA), the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), the National Park Service (NPS), and Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) comprise the Farmington River Coordinating Committee (FRCC). The members of this Coordinating Committee, as mandated by Congress in the designation, work together to promote long-term protection of the Upper Farmington River and coordinate the implementation of the Upper Farmington River Management Plan.

Snapshot of the Upper Farmington River Designation

Name

Farmington River

State

CT

Date Study was Enacted

October 30, 1986

Public Law

PL 99-590

Congressional Sponsors

Study - Bruce Frank Vento (DFL-MN); Designation - Nancy Lee Johnson (R-CT)

Date Designated

August 26, 1994

Public Law

PL 103-313

Miles Designated

14

Designated ORVs

Fish, Historic, Recreation, Scenic, Wildlife, Water Quality

Website

Farmington River Coordinating Committee

Outstanding Resources

Rich history, recreation, fish and wildlife




Return to Partnership Wild and Scenic River News | August 2020

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Designation Origin Stories | The Farmington River