The Town of Amherst has been awarded a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program Action Grant of $169,250 to improve flood resiliency and water quality in the Fort River watershed. The award was part of the Healey-Driscoll Administration award of $31.5 million in state-wide grants for climate resilience implementation and planning Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program. The Town had previously received a $100,000 MVP Action Grant in 2020 to develop a climate action, adaptation, and resiliency plan.
This Fort River project will upgrade infrastructure to improve the resiliency of the Fort River watershed in response to climate change. The grant funds will support the design and permitting to replace three undersized, damaged culverts for flood resiliency. The health of the Fort River is important to the Town residents and is frequently used by the community for recreation. The overall health of the Fort River will only become more critical as we continue to experience the impacts of climate change.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman said, “I would like to thank the Healey-Driscoll administration – and the MVP Program staff – for recognizing the importance of this project. Fort River runs through central and south Amherst and is the longest free-flowing tributary of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. It is critical that we recognize the important role it plays in flood resiliency.”
Public Works Asst. Superintendent Amy Rusiecki said, “The MVP Action Grant is a wonderful program to allow communities make meaningful improvements to enhance resilience. We are pleased to have state support to fund work on the culverts, which will improve the overall health of the Fort River.”
Specifically with this grant, the Town will procure an engineering firm to work with the Town’s engineers on culvert designs, procuring other contracts needed for the project including surveying, delineating wetlands, and conducting geotechnical studies. Grant funding will also be used for project permitting. All the design and permitting work must be completed by June 30, 2024.
The Fort River and its tributaries help define South Amherst with rich farmland, extensive wetlands, and excellent wildlife habitat. This system is considered one of the most important watersheds state-wide for the diversity of freshwater mussels and includes one federally endangered species. Its watershed contains all the reservoirs for the town of Amherst, and the origin of the river itself is the Intake Reservoir in Pelham.
Community members who are interested can stay tuned to www.amherstma.gov to learn more about the project and how they can be involved through a planned project page.
The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program (MVP) supports cities and towns in Massachusetts to begin planning for climate change resiliency and implementing priority projects. The state awards communities with funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans. Communities who complete the MVP program become certified as an MVP community and are eligible for MVP Action Grant funding and other opportunities.