Preservationists Plan a Plunge at Concord River Boat Launch

OARS is hoping to swim in the Concord River from the Carlisle Road boat launch next month. Photo Jenny Stewart

A non-profit organization is planning a “plunge” into the Concord River to demonstrate the success of efforts to improve water quality. 

Representatives of OARS are scheduled to describe their event at next Monday’s Select Board meeting.

OARS Executive Director Matthew Brown said the group wants to go for a swim off the Carlisle Road boat launch area at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 6, to celebrate improvements in the river’s “report card.” He said, “Anyone can jump in with us, go for a river swim, and get rid of the perception that these rivers are polluted.”

Brown said the group is inviting “key stakeholders” to the event, where the plunge will be preceded by a presentation.

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West Concord-based OARS, established in 1986 as the Organization for the Assabet River [the Sudbury and Concord rivers were added in 2011), says its mission is “to protect, preserve, and improve” the rivers and their tributaries and watersheds for public recreation, wildlife habitat, and water supply.

Every five years, OARS issues a report evaluating the rivers’ water quality, recreation, “connectivity,” and wildlife habitat. The group is about to release its 2023 study, which shows that “some of the areas have improved,” said Brown.

The Bedford Board of Health briefly discussed the plan at its meeting on Monday. 

“I never got that kind of a request before,” said Heidi Porter, director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

She said she checked with the state Department of Public Health’s Bathing Division, which “made a recommendation that they need to collect a bacteriological sample within two or three days of the event so you have current data.”

Brown agreed, explaining, “Part of the reason we chose that spot is it’s one location that has been within the swimmable levels of bacteria. We want to celebrate that site. One of OARS’s goals is for the river to be available for all different kinds of recreational access.”

He pointed out that the area, which is next to the Hart Desiato Memorial Bridge connecting Bedford and Carlisle, is also safe for swimming with no known obstructions and a mild current.

“The boat launch is a great spot,” Brown said, a location that “shows how the impact of the ‘wild and scenic’ designation of the rivers has been, a good habitat for all the wildlife that lives there. We want to promote that all the work to preserve these rivers is paying off. The town should be proud of this resource.”

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May 14, 2024 2:53 pm

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