The RiverSmart Communities program combines social and river science, institutional and policy research, and community outreach at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to research and address river floods in New England. It is our vision that river management can restore the environmental integrity of rivers while ensuring that New England communities thrive in a world where floods naturally occur. To make this vision possible, our work aims to help New England’s communities become river-smart.

River-smart: Managing rivers and riverside landscapes, as well as our own actions and expectations, so people and communities are more resilient to river floods. Specifically: reducing flood severity, flood damage, and flood costs by understanding and accommodating the natural dynamics of rivers and river floods.

A key goal is to offer ideas and tools that can be used by people and groups across New England – land and river managers, riverside property owners, policy makers, government agency staff, community leaders, grass-roots activists, and others – so they can creatively build and advocate for systems that work for their own states and communities.

In this website you can find summaries of the many projects included in the RiverSmart Communities program. You can also find educational and outreach materials that may be used to promote sustainable river management in your community.

Streambank planting

Streambank planting
Place name or River name: 
South River / Chapel Brook confluence, Conway MA
Watershed: 
Deerfield
Latitude: 
42.512811
Longitude: 
-72.743406
Description/Comments: 

Vegetative planting in soil with fabric overlain to assist in retention of soil.  With time and  vegetative growth, these should continue to capture sedients during high flows and build a more stable, albeit quite narrow riparian area that will serve as a buffer between the retaining wall and the stream.

Category: 

West Branch Deerfield - downstream from Branch Hill Road, Readsboro

West Branch Deerfield - downstream from Branch Hill Road, Readsboro
Place name or River name: 
Readsboro, Vermont
Watershed: 
Deerfield
Latitude: 
42.773280
Longitude: 
-72.951467
Description/Comments: 

West Branch Deerfield River, looking downstream from Branch Hill Road bridge.  This is on the outskirts of Readsboro, Vermont. Notice what appears to be an old bridge abutment on the left bank, suggesting that a bridge once existed on that spot. Route 100 can be seen through the trees on the left. 

West Branch Deerfield - eroded bluff

West Branch Deerfield - eroded bluff
Place name or River name: 
Readsboro, Vermont
Watershed: 
Deerfield
Latitude: 
42.770683
Longitude: 
-72.949026
Description/Comments: 

Readsboro was hit pretty hard during Tropical Storm Irene. Several homes formerly sat atop this bluff, along School Street. They were rendered unstable by the eroding banks that undermined the houses, and have since been removed. 

Black Brook 2-26-2016

Black Brook 2-26-2016
Date: 
Friday, February 26, 2016
Place name or River name: 
Black Brook
Watershed: 
Cold River
Latitude: 
42.632290
Longitude: 
-72.973476
Description/Comments: 

Black Brook, looking upstream on February 26, 2016. Repairs on Black Brook road are still underway. This photo shows how the banks have been stabilized to protect the road in future high flow events.

South River - Rt 116 restoration

South River - Rt 116 restoration
Date: 
Friday, February 26, 2016
Place name or River name: 
South River, Conway MA
Watershed: 
Deerfield
Latitude: 
42.512487
Longitude: 
-72.739876
Description/Comments: 

Restoration of Route 116 along the South River, on the western side of Conway, Massachusetts. Photo taken February 26, 2016.   This section had been heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.

Root wads, retaining wall along Route 116

Root wads, retaining wall along Route 116
Place name or River name: 
South River, Conway MA
Watershed: 
Deerfield
Latitude: 
42.512487
Longitude: 
-72.739876
Description/Comments: 

Restoration work along South River and Route 116. Root wads have been pounded into the bank on Route 116 side of the river. They are intended to deflect flows back towards the center of the stream, and to aid recruitment of sediments on this side of the stream, in locations where eddies occur because of the action of water flowing around these root wads.

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