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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

Environmental Science and Policy


Environmental Science and Policy


Alex Barron


The Mill River flows through 15 miles of Western Massachusetts, from Goshen to Easthampton, with a watershed area of 33,664 acres. The river has a complex history of human influence that has altered the waterfront and stream flow considerably. The Mill River Greenway Initiative and Smith College work along the waterfront of the Mill River to mitigate invasive species and promote a social and ecological space for the community. Our project aims to advance the work of both organizations to benefit local residents, Smith students, and the ecological community along the river. We focused on a section of river from Lamont Bridge at Smith College to Bay State Village in Florence (Figure 1).

In 2010, Smith College built a synthetic turf field and was required by the and Order of Conditions from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to reduce invasive species presence by 75% along a waterfront area of approximately 116,176ft2 in perpetuity. For the past 5 years, the Smith College Botanic Garden and Facilities Management have contributed summer student interns in an effort to control invasive species. These efforts have been relatively unsuccessful and very time and resource intensive; our project seeks to find a long-term, low- maintenance solution.

The Mill River Greenway Initiative (MRGI) is made up of a group of community members who recognize that greenways are ecological and recreational corridors, often with significant historical and cultural heritage. The MRGI is looking to improve the paths along this section of river in order to meet the needs of users and facilitate community building. To meet these criteria, trails may need to be secluded, be forested, provide access to water, and be well maintained. In addition, our project highlights the significant history of Native Americans, the mill industry, and the state hospital to current users of the Mill River. In doing so, this knowledge of local history unifies citizens around a “local ecology and culture” (Healey, 2012).We make recommendations to both the Mill River Greenway Initiative and Smith College for path improvements, increased invasive species management, and to engage more students in the work along the river. We hope to see these recommendations come to fruition with the creation of a path, the placement of historical signage along the river, and the implementation of the invasive species management plan.


©2018 Julia Graham


This project report summarizes the semester-long efforts of group members to identify a problem in sustainability; gather background information; collect data through surveys, interviews, or experiments; analyze results, and report findings to the public in an oral presentation. Each member of the group was required to submit a separate written report. This student’s report was selected by the course’s professor to represent the project.

Project group members: Graham, Julia, Bryn Gingrich & Grace Peralta