Shawsheen River Interactive Recreational Map
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The Shawsheen River winds for about 25 miles through all or parts of 12 communities in northeastern Massachusetts before emptying into the Merrimack River in Lawrence. With the decline of its industrial base, and especially since passage of the Clean Water Act in the 1970s, local citizens have begun looking at the Shawsheen River as a resource for outdoor recreational opportunities such as canoeing, hiking, biking, fishing and sightseeing. However, it was difficult to find out where such opportunities existed and how to take advantage of them.

The Massachusetts Division of Fish, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement (Fish & Wildlife) established a goal of providing an easily-accessible and complete graphic representation of the various recreational opportunities along the Shawsheen River from its source to its mouth. Originally envisioned to be simply a hard copy map, an interactive web-based version was also needed to encourage maximum distribution and usage. Both versions would need to be easy to use.

Geosyntec's Scope of Services

Fish & Wildlife retained Geosyntec to produce an informational brochure and website to promote recreational opportunities in the communities of the Shawsheen River watershed. Geosyntec worked with state and local officials, as well as the Shawsheen River Watershed Association, to collect information on recreational resources in the watershed. Specific information such as canoe access points, scenic/historical points of interest, and conservation lands and trails was collected for inclusion in the final product.

As part of the public outreach effort, Geosyntec hosted two multi-community meetings to educate groups, residents, businesses, selectmen, and others about recreational opportunities in the watershed, functions of the watershed, the scope of environmental problems facing the watershed, and how the target audience can play an active role in solving these problems.

Notable Accomplishments

Geosyntec created both a hard-copy and an interactive, internet-based GIS map ( for recreational opportunities along the entire Shawsheen River. The internet-based map allows the user to zoom in and zoom out, click on an icon at a point of interest along the river and find out information such as canoe put-in locations, hazards and portages, historical information and, if available, view a photograph of the location. We also included state and local conservation lands and hiking trails along the watershed. At the highest zoom level, an interactive orthophoto of the area is shown.

Geosyntec built many features into the Shawsheen River recreational map that fulfilled Fish & Wildlife's goal of providing an easy to use guide to the river's recreation features.

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Project Summary

  • Location: Shawsheen River, Massachusetts, USA
  • Client: Massachusetts Division of Fish, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement
  • Project Practice Areas: Water and Natural Resources
  • Type of Facility: Recreational River Watershed
  • Services Provided: Field Data Collection; Database Construction; GIS Mapping; Public Outreach; Brochure Development
  • Type of Work: Resource Mapping
  • Governing Regulation: State Regulations