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Who We Are and What We Do

The mission of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council is to encourage, support and promote the restoration and preservation of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed as an environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic asset of the State of Rhode Island.

2015: Year’s Highlights & Looking Ahead (pdf)

In 1998, hundreds of watershed residents joined in the successful effort to have the Woonasquatucket River designated as one of fourteen American Heritage Rivers. This important federal designation honors the historic, cultural, economic and environmental significance of this Rhode Island treasure. The 18-mile-long Woonasquatucket River flows through 6 cities and towns in Rhode Island including Glocester, North Smithfield, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence and Providence, where it flows into the Providence River and out into Narragansett Bay. Since the Woonasquatucket River was designated an American Heritage River many groups have taken an interest in revitalizing the river and the watershed that it runs through.

The headwaters of the Woonasquatucket River in Fort Wildlife Refuge, an Audubon Society of Rhode Island property. Photograph by John Monroe, National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program.

The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council formed shortly after the American Heritage River designation. The group, organized by staff of the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project, is composed of residents, representatives of local and state government, and local non-profits and works to improve the environmental, recreational and economic assets of the Woonasquatucket watershed. The Council works with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) and other state and federal agencies to design and implement projects in the watershed. The watershed has been chosen as a pilot for the RI DEM's Watershed Approach. The Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project is now a program of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council.

The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council has monthly meetings that are open to the public. Interested people are strongly encouraged to participate. For more information call the Watershed Council at 401-861-9046. For more ideas on how to contribute your time and knowledge, see our section on Getting Involved.

River Rangers' paddle on the Woonasquatucket River in Providence.

Current projects that the Watershed Council is involved with include:

  • Working with local, state and federal partners to move forward with riparian buffer restorations at various sites in the watershed. The best sites for such restoration work were identified through research conducted in partnership with URI, RI DEM and the U.S. Forest Service.
  • Working with state, federal, and local partners to act on a "Watershed Action Plan" that was developed to promote on-the-ground projects that advance the revitalization of the River and its watershed.
  • Completing work on the Woonasquatucket River Greenway in Providence and Johnston.
  • Working with the EPA as well as local and state partners to make sure that the cleanup work done at the Centredale Manor superfund site is conducted in a way that will best protect the health and other interests of the residents of the area as well as the health of the river.

For more information about what's happening at the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council contact Alicia Lehrer, Executive Director of the Council.

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