Sustainable Franklin County, Massachusetts

Sustainable Franklin County is a comprehensive, regional sustainable development plan for rural Franklin County, Massachusetts. The plan provides recommendations and strategies for local governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals to build long-term sustainability and climate change resiliency throughout the county. The report is focused on Housing, Transportation, Economic Development, Energy, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources, and Land Use and Infrastructure sectors, and integrates social equity and climate change adaptation strategies.

Drawing on information from the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report, each sectoral chapter of this report includes a background description of the issues, addresses challenges and constraints, and projects climate impacts and future needs. Primary goals, recommendations, and strategies are provided, as well as measurable performance benchmarks, to support successful implementation.

The Natural Resources chapter includes an extensive discussion of climate impacts and adaptation strategies related to Farmland, Forests, Aquifer Recharge Areas, Critical Habitat, Surface Waters and Fisheries, and Wetlands and Floodplains. Some of the primary impacts on natural resources due to climate change include: damage to farmland soil from intense floods, changes to forest structure, more frequent drought and wildfires, decreased summer water supply, loss and fragmentation of habitats, increased erosion, declines in ecosystem diversity, and permanent alterations of wetlands.

Examples of specific adaptation strategies recommended to mitigate such impacts include, among many others, to: 

  • Support farmers’ efforts to grow a wider diversity of food crops, including drought-tolerant food crops for this region.
  • Protect large and/or unfragmented blocks of forest from development.
  • Create a regional emergency water supply plan that includes climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Update FEMA floodplain maps.
  • Protect critical water resources such as river corridors, watersheds, and wetland systems that serve to connect natural systems.
  • Promote sustainable water and stormwater management to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Additional adaptation strategies related to Transportation, Energy, Land Use and Infrastructure, and Cultural Resources are included, such as to: update floodplain mapping using predictive modeling to help identify at-risk facilities and structures, construct larger culverts, plant trees to reduce heat island effects, expand green infrastructure, promote low impact development and local food production, and to map and assess cultural and historic resources to plan for their protection.

Case studies are included offering examples of success stories from each sector and lessons learned from Tropical Storm Irene that severely impacted Franklin County in 2011. Practical tips for individuals to implement are provided to encourage sustainability and resiliency efforts.

The creation of this sustainability plan was supported by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Grant.


Publication Date: June 2013

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Peggy Sloan
  • Jessica Atwood
  • Ryan Clary
  • Alyssa Larose
  • Stacy Metzger
  • Mary Praus
  • Megan Rhodes

Related Organizations:

  • Franklin County Regional Council of Governments


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

States Affected:

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