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Posted 3/28/2017

Release no. 17-021

Tim Dugan

CONCORD, Mass. – A public meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 in Millis, Mass., to discuss the draft Master Plan for project operations and federal land management of the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area flood risk reduction project, according to officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. The public will have an opportunity to provide comments on the draft master plan at the meeting or submit them to the Corps through June 15, 2017.


The Charles River Natural Valley Storage Project lies throughout 16 eastern Massachusetts communities in the middle and upper areas of the Charles River. The creation of the Charles River Natural Valley Storage (CRNVS) Project was authorized by Congress in March 1974. Federal funds of $8.3 million were used to purchase 3,210 acres of fee land and 4,891 acres of restrictive easement. The CRNVS Area acts as a flood risk reduction project by using the natural flood attenuation characteristics of the more than 8,000 acres of protected wetlands purchased to reduce potential flooding. The CRNVS lies within three counties (Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk). The project has prevented approximately $11.9 million in flood damages through Sept. 30, 2016. The previous Master Plan was prepared in June 1984.


The Master Plan covers approximately 3,229 acres of federally-owned land and 4,865 acres of federally-held easements in the upper and middle Charles River Watershed. The Master Plan prescribes an overall land and water management plan, resource objectives, and associated design and management concepts which provide the best possible combination of responses to regional needs, resource capabilities and suitabilities, and expressed public interests consistent with the project’s authorized flood risk management purposes. 


The Master Plan covers all project resources, including fish and wildlife, vegetation, cultural, aesthetic, interpretive, recreational, commercial and outgranted lands, easements and water. The public notice notifying the public of the Corps intent to update the CRNVS Area Draft Master Plan was published on March 22, 2017. The Corps has been working with the public and other stakeholders to develop the draft master plan that is now available for review and comment. A public meeting to discuss the Master Plan will be held on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 from 5 - 8 p.m. in the Millis Public Library at 961 Main Street in Millis, Mass.


The CRNVS Area attracts more than 60,000 visitors a year, who bike, boat, fish, hike, hunt, view wildlife and partake in other passive recreational uses. The field office for the CRNVS Area is located at the West Hill Dam Project Office in Uxbridge. Staff patrol, investigate and resolve real estate inquiries, boundary inquiries, and requests for leases, licenses and easements. Staff provide the town and other agencies with assistance in the CRNVS area.


Input to the planning process included surveys and management plans for natural, wetland and cultural resources, and an analysis of recreational use, capacity and projected needs for project lands. Natural and man-made resources were located, identified and analyzed, including wetlands, exemplary natural communities, and cultural resources that require management efforts for their protection. These were integrated into a series of project-wide objectives to protect and enhance project resources and promote and develop, as appropriate, those resources for public use, education and access.


Recreational opportunities were identified through an analysis of regional needs and the public participation process. The planning process identified opportunities to manage multiple resources, and to enhance and protect important natural and cultural resources. Enhancing and preserving the resources by careful management of user conflicts were also identified.


The Master Plan provides guidance for future management of the project. The natural resources of the project will continue to be managed to provide the best combination of responses to regional and ecosystem needs, project resources and capabilities. All specific proposals for recreational or other development at the project must comply with this Master Plan, the Charles River Basin flood risk reduction requirements, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and federal requirements.


The Master Plan is available for review at the Millis Public Library, 961 Main Street in Millis, Mass. 01566, or at several other libraries listed on the website, or can be accessed online at the Corps website at Select missions, civil works, flood risk management, Massachusetts and then CRNVS or go directly to the link at and select the Master Plan.


Public comments on the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Project Master Plan should be sent by June 15, 2017 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, West Hill Dam, Woonsocket Falls Dam & CRNVSA, (ATTN: Project Manager Joseph Zanca), 518 East Hartford Avenue, Uxbridge, MA 01569 or by email to For details call (508) 278-2511 or 978-318-8419.