History: Becoming Wild & Scenic

The First Step – Authorization of a Study

In 1994, 14 miles of the Upper Farmington River were designated as Wild & Scenic. The Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers Program proved to be successful in increasing river protection through the local, state and federal entities that were part of the Farmington River Coordinating Committee. Because of the rich biological, historical and recreational resources of the lower reaches of the Farmington River and also its tributary, Salmon Brook, the Farmington River Watershed Association worked with former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson and former Senator Chris Dodd to have the Congress of the United States authorize a study of the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook for Wild & Scenic designation. With their support and efforts, the Study bill, Public Law No. 109-370 became law in November 27, 2006.

The Wild & Scenic Study Committee Begins to Meet

The Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild & Scenic Study Committee, made up of representatives from Avon, Bloomfield, Burlington, Canton, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, Hartland, Simsbury and Windsor, the Farmington River Watershed Association, the Salmon Brook Watershed Association, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Stanley Black & Decker and the National Park Service, began meeting in April, 2007. The Study Committee also benefitted from regular attendance and input from the Pequabuck Watershed Association, the Tariffville Village Association and the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.


Work of the Study Committee

The Study Committee used some of its federal funding to support the research needed to substantiate that the two watercourses had the required “Outstandingly Remarkable Values” to make it eligible for designation. Through newsletters, public meetings and conversations with town residents and officials, the Study Committee developed local support for the designation, demonstrating that the river was also suitable for designation. With the assistance of the National Park Service, the Study Committee developed its Management Plan, an essential step toward designation. As a draft, the Management Plan was shared with town officials and was finally completed and printed in June, 2011.

Finally, Designation!

After the Study was completed, several members of the Study Committee visited Washington D.C. to advocate for the designation of the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook as part of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers system. From the inception of the Study itself, the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild & Scenic Committee was supported and encouraged by then Congressman and now Senator Christopher Murphy and his staff. All the other members the Connecticut delegation, including Congressman John Larson, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes also supported designation.

In March 2019, the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook received its Wild & Scenic designation with the passage of PL116-9. The Dingell Act, S.47 (116th Congress). With the designation, Canton was no longer part of the Lower Farmington area, but 1.1 miles of the Farmington were added to the upper Farmington’s 1994 designation. Canton remains a partner in the upper river’s advisory management group, the Farmington River Coordinating Committee (FRCC).

Senator Chris Murphy’s office worked with former LFSWS Study Committee members to organize a Designation Celebration that was held on the Flower Bridge in Simsbury on May 11, 2019. The Senator, Simsbury’s First Selectman, Eric Wellman, Congresswoman Jahana and others spoke. In keeping with the Wild & Scenic spirit, a great blue heron honored the Celebration attendees with a flyover.

Designation Celebration of the Lower Farmington and Salmon Brook, May 11, 2019. Left to right: Representative Jahana Hayes, Sally Rieger, Wild & Scenic Committee, and Senator Chris Murphy.
Designation Celebration of the Lower Farmington and Salmon Brook, May 11, 2019. Left to right, Bill Dornbos, then Executive Director of FRWA, Senator Chris Murphy, Sally Rieger, Wild & Scenic Committee, Chairperson, Simsbury’s State Representative John Hampton and Simsbury First Selectman Eric Wellman.

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