Friday and Saturday, April 8 - 9, 2011

Switzer Foundation Fellows Retreat
Nashua River Environs
Groton, Pepperell, Fitchburg, MA

East Coats Switzer Fellows' Spring Retreat and Study Tour: A Case Study of Community Revitalization and River Restoration: The Nashua River. Fitchburg, a former industrial mill town along the Nashua River in north central Massachusetts, has undergone dramatic improvements in terms of public access to the river, community green space, public education, and urban redevelopment. We will hear from community activists, municipal officials, and environmental professionals about what it took to galvanize a community and help residents re-discover their river - one of the top ten most polluted rivers in the U.S. in the 1960's.

Themes to be explored include:

  • The role of citizen activists as environmental leaders and change-makers;
  • River restoration and flood management in an urban environment;
  • The integration of climate change into urban river restoration strategies – will existing flood walls stand up to projected increases in flood elevations and can river restoration projects in this setting adequately address the changing climate? Will projects designed in the recent past hold up under possible climate change scenarios?
  • Community engagement in river restoration and the role of science education and river access; and
  • Municipal engagement and political will in urban river restoration.

Sponsored by Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. For more information visit