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Supporting Public Access to Recreational Waters

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Learn how public access to fishing, swimming, boating and waterfront areas can be equitably and safely increased & about indigenous rights.

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In this, the second session of Watershed Action Alliance's virtual conference on environmental justice, our three speakers will address issues around public access to ponds, streams, the ocean and other recreational waters in urban areas, rural locales and remote islands.

This event is free; however, donations will help us continue to provide educational programming and are greatly appreciated.

Melissa Ferretti, chairwoman of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe will talk about indigenous people's access rights and realities revealing facts that will likely surprise you because they are, unfortunately, not yet widely known. She will touch upon some fo the challenges faced by local tribes and others across Massachusetts because of lack of knowledge of their rights on private lands and other areas of limited access. Melissa will describe the UNDRIP United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and how this affects her tribe along with others.

You will also hear from Vivian Ortiz, who will relate her experience inviting lifelong residents in her community to a hidden open space in their backyards, the Neponset River Greenway Trail. Vivian moved to the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan in 2012. At that time, she had no idea that she'd become the head cheerleader for a portion of a beautiful rail trail about 100 feet from her door. The Greenway extension was opened in May 2017 and named one of America's Great Places by the American Planning Association in 2019. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been record numbers of people walking, roller skating, and biking along the Neponset River Greenway Trail.

Kate Mulvaney, a social scientist at the US Environmental Protection Agency, along with her colleagues, has unearthed disparities in access to quality natural amenities with the goal of informing more equitable policy and natural resource management decisions. She will discuss her research on factors affecting usage of coastal areas by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, such as distance to quality areas and perception of welcome, and present possible solutions.

Following the presentations, there will be a 30-minute discussion and question and answer session. Attendees will receive a Zoom link prior to the event.

Don't miss our first session on March 17, 2021 when speakers will address the basics of environmental justice using examples from Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. And, register now for the third session, Promoting Environmental Justice: the First Steps.

More information about the conference may be found here.


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