Earlier this month, Governor Healey signed the final state budget for fiscal year 2024 and environmental agencies were big winners! There were some notable budget increases to agencies we often partner with including the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Department of Ecological Restoration (DER). DCR received a much needed $20.6 million increase to help them manage and make improvements to the Commonwealth’s parks, while DER has an additional $1.1 million in the 2024 budget to help with dam removal, culvert replacement and cranberry bog restoration. A big thank you to our state watershed organization, Massachusetts Rivers Alliance of which we are a member, who worked tirelessly to get these initiatives passed.

The NSRWA was also successful in advocating once again for the annual funding for the North River Commission, which oversees the implementation of the North River Protective Order. This is the third year we have been successful in getting this funding for the North River Commission. The North River is the first and only Scenic Protected River under the State’s Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. The funding pays for part-time staff to administer permitting for projects within 300 ft. of the river banks along the entire river corridor in the 5 towns it runs through, as well as maintain a presence on the river to enforce the order which includes the No Wake designation. The Protective Order has been incredibly successful at preserving habitat and water quality while maintaining the scenic view of the river for the public. This protective order is singular in the state and has successfully protected the North River from unrestrained development. This year’s earmark will allow the North River Commission to continue to protect the river’s scenic and recreational values for residents throughout the South Shore and the thousands of kayakers, boaters, fishermen and visitors that use it every year.

We are so grateful to the South Shore delegation for their support of the order – especially Representative Patrick Kearney and Representative David DeCoste who filed this year’s amendment with the support of Representative Joan Meschino and Representative Josh Cutler, as well as Senator Patrick O’Connor.