CRAAC was formally created in October 1987 by the adoption of state legislation. Its main purpose is to educate the public about the benefits of protecting the Canoe River Aquifer. This regional committee is comprised of 15 members, three from each of the five communities the river passes through. Most are municipal officials or sit on town boards. Among other activities, CRAAC advises municipal officials and residents on development impacts, water qualityconcerns, conservation practices, protective zoning bylaws and other issues. It also sponsors many educational conferences and meetings. State environmental officials regard CRAAC as a model for a volunteer, regional entity.
THE CANOE RIVER GREENBELT PROJECT
One of CRAAC's most challenging and longterm goals has been to create a regional "greenbelt" -land controlled by the public and preserved in its natural state. The intent is to acquire parcels within the riparian corridor through friendly purchase or casement. The extensive wetlands and woods abutting the river are integral components in maintaining water quality and quantity. They are also prime habitat for numerous species of plants and wildlife - some of which have been designated "endangered" or "species of special concern." Therefore, preservation of these unique riparian areas is critical to retaining the overall health of the river ecosystem which in turn protects this public water supply. Facilitating public access, another important goal, may also be accomplished.
Through the receipt of a $50,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP) the committee has begun to address this important goal. The grant money is being used to create a Geographical Information System (GIS) which will be a database and map of all the parcels along the river corridor. Hundreds of parcels from the five communities are included. The complexity of this task clearly required outside assistance.