Quabbin Reservoir Watershed
DCR Division of Water Supply Protection, Office of Watershed Management owns over 82,000 acres of land and water in the Quabbin Reservoir watershed. While DCR manages this watershed primarily for water quality protection, drinking water supply, and environmental resource protection purposes, these vast areas are also used by the public for recreation. Public Access Management Plan Update: Quabbin Reservoir Watershed System explains DCR policies and control measures used to mitigate impacts from public access and common recreational activities that occur on DCR land and water resources in the Quabbin Reservoir watershed.
The first Public Access Plan for the Quabbin Reservoir watershed was published in 1988. This plan outlined control policies and monitoring mechanisms used to mitigate possible negative impacts from public access to Watershed Management property in Barre, Belchertown, Hardwick, New Salem, Orange, Pelham, Petersham, Shutesbury, Ware, and Wendell. An update was completed ten years later in 1998. The most recent update was initiated in 2005 and completed in spring 2006.
DCR and its predecessor have continuously involved stakeholders in its public access policy development, review, and modification. The planning process for this latest update included two public meetings, a visitor survey, an abutter’s survey, and a public hearing. The input received while updating the Quabbin Access Management Plan demonstrated, however, that local residents, land abutters, visitors, and environmental organizations are supportive of DCR’s policies to protect the public water supply while allowing controlled access to these resources.
Most of the changes from the 1998 Plan to the 2006 Plan involve minor modifications, clarifications and updates to the individual policy statements. The more substantive changes include: 1) the addition of new Security Zones as a result of post-9/11 concerns; 2) designation of one Snowmobiling trail on off-reservation lands; 3) the addition of two new Bicycling on Designated Roads areas that address the public interest in having longer “loop” options for bicycling in Quabbin; 4) a new policy that prohibits Off-road Bicycling due to the documented environmental damage caused by past unauthorized activity; and 5) a new policy on Geocaching and Questing necessitated by the recent emergence and popularity of these activities.
Public Access Management Plan Update: Quabbin Reservoir Watershed System strikes a sensible balance between the need to protect the quality of this major unfiltered public drinking water supply and the legitimate desire of the general public to recreate in this magnificent natural area. Recreational activities on the watershed will continue to be monitored and assessed on an on-going basis, and public access policies, when necessary, will be accordingly modified.
Commissioner Stephen H. Burrington officially adopted the plan at a signing ceremony on July 5, 2006.
The following is the complete Public Access Management Plan Update: Quabbin Reservoir Watershed System. The plan is separated out by chapter for faster viewing (some sections, however, are still quite large and their size is noted). All files are in .pdf format. In addition, copies are available at the local watershed libraries, the Quabbin Visitor Center, and upon request from the Quabbin Visitor Center at (413) 323-7221.
A Legislation [1 MB]
Quabbin Public Access Summary (printable document PDF)