Hoosic River Restoration

The Hoosic River and North Branch Hoosic River flow through North Adams in massive concrete flood chutes and earthen levees built to protect the city from flooding.

Hoosic River, North Adams

River in concrete chutes
The rake flood chute floor concentrates river flow, the concrete heats the water

The chutes of the Hoosic River and North Branch Hoosic River have protected the city from flood waters but at a cost. The river is inaccessible, degraded and void of habitat within the chutes while upstream the river is clear, cold and alive with native aquatic life including native brook trout. DER is working with the Hoosic River Revival, the city and many others on an effort to reconnect the city to its river, improve riverine habitat and function, and spur economic growth all while maintaining the existing level of flood protection.

The Phase I proposed river restoration reworks the Hoosic river’s engineered channel to reintroduce a meander hugging community athletic fields, accommodating recreational pathways, adding an urban orchard, implementing stormwater controls to reduce nonpoint source pollution and creating access to the river.

The work is a multi-step and multi-year effort. DER helped the city convene two community conversations to map out a vision for the rivers and reach consensus on design. Structural assessments of the aged flood structures helped determine restoration possibilities that would suit the City’s and the river’s needs- particularly the necessity to maintain the current level of flood control.

The first phase of the project, a design for about a kilometer of the Hoosic River to the south of the city, is undergoing extensive agency review working toward a final design followed by the all important fund raising efforts to implement this first of several restoration projects on the two branches of the Hoosic River.

Some additional benefits worth noting about Phase I of the Hoosic River project beyond the improvements to the river, habitat and community, is the direct economic gain anticipated from the implementation of this first restored section. The Hoosic River Revival engaged the economic analysts of C3D at Williams College to estimate the economic gain from Phase I. The final report detailed significant conclusions including the finding that each dollar spent will generate a nearly two fold increase in economic activity locally (Berkshire County). The City and state will reap long term increases in tax revenue from the river enhancements while the county should expect over 100 jobs generated by Phase I. Urban River restorations have the potential to revitalize a city on many levels from aesthetics to livability to economic vitality. The report, Hoosic River Programming: Program and Feasibility Recommendations, is available under additional resources.

For more information about this project, please visit the Hoosic River Revival web site or contact Cindy Delpapa at 413-572-8837 or cindy.delpapa@mass.gov.

Additional Resources for

Vital Statistics

Town: North Adams
Major Watershed: Hoosic
Subwatershed: North and South Branches Hoosic
Contact: DER or Hoosic River Revival
Partners: Hoosic River Revival, City of North Adams

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