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Fall River Open Space Plan
B. Landscape Character
Fall River possesses many landscape features that are particularly relaevant to open space planning issues. Chief among these features is the city's waterfront. Fall RIver is a coastal community with a saltwater shoreline that stretches for seven miles from the boundary of Freetown on the city's northern boundary on the Taunton River to the corporate boundary of Tiverton, R.I., on the city's southern boundary on Mount Hope Bay. The city's coastal waterfront has played an important role in the development of the city's economy; it's role as a recreational resource is only beginning to be rediscovered.
While the city is bounded on the west by coastal salt water, the eastern edge of the developed part of the city is bounded by approximately seven miles of fresh water shoreline on the North Watuppa and the South Watuppa Ponds. The shoreline of North Watuppa Pond - the city's water reservoir - is protected, for the most part, through public ownership. Because of its water supply role, the watershed land of the North Watuppa Pond that is in public ownership has only very limited public access. South Watuppa Pond, however, does have public access and is used extensively for various recreational uses.
In addition, freshwater waterfront exists on Cook Pond, a great pond of the Commonwealth that is bounded by 2.6 miles of shoreline within the city. This 154 acre water body was created in the 19th century as a reservoir for industrial process water.
Another major category of landscape features in Fall River is rivers and streams. The largest of these features is the Quequechan River, which bisects the middle of the city, flowing from South Watuppa Pond and emptying into Mount Hope Bay. Other major streams in the city include Sucker Brook in the southern section of the city and Steep Brook in the northern section.
The third major category of landscape feature that is prominent in Fall River is the city's steep hillsides, particularly the steep hillside that faces west above Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River. This hillside provides many high, dramatic water views, including views of often spectacular sunsets.
Hillsides also extend along the eastern edge, although the topographic grade changes are not as pronounced as on the western section of the city. These eastfacing hillsides slope towards the North Watuppa and South Watuppa Ponds and provide often panoramic views of these water bodies and of the forest beyond.
Topographic changes have been an important element in the history of the city. Streams flowing down steep hillsides - particularly the Quequechan River and the stream that flows from Cook Pond - provided water power for the early textile mills in the city and later provided process water for the growing textile industry.
Two of the City's main Olmstead parks are located on the steep slopes above Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River and, as a result, provide panoramic views of water and the landscape beyond.
The third major landscape feature in Fall River is the city's forested areas. These forests provide an open space resource that is not frequently found in close proximity to urban areas. The major forested area in the city is the holdings of the Watuppa Reservation. While these land holdings do not provide for public access, they nonetheless provide a forest edge and forest expanse in immediate proximity to city residents.
The second part of this forested resource in the city is the Freetown-Fall River State Forest. This forest of 2,250 acres is a major open space and recreational resource for the region.
The third part of the forest resource is privately-owned land in the eastern section of the city. This land extends from the edge of the North Watuppa Pond on the west to the Acushnet Cedar Swamp in New Bedford on the east. The largest of these private holdings includes acres owned by the Acushnet Saw Mills Company. However, this unique forest feature is being threatened as smaller parcels of private land are being proposed for development.
These landscape features are significant determinants for open space and recreation strategies that are recommended in this plan. The city's seven miles of coastal shoreline provides an excellent opportunity to access the major open space resources of Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River and would create a linear Greenbelt that could extend north into Freetiown along the Taunton River and south into Tiverton along Mount Hope Bay.
The shorelines of both the South Watuppa Pond and Cook Pond also provide an opportunity for a Greenbelt and trail system along the water's edge.