Connecticut River
Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont
American Heritage Rivers

Like a great main street of New England, the Connecticut River flows 410 miles from the Canadian border to the coast of Connecticut, forming the New Hampshire-Vermont state line, bisecting both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and draining an 11,260 square mile watershed. For 300 years, the river has played a key role in the history of New England. It was the nation's first large river highway and retains the remains of six early canals, dating back to 1795.

Ninety-nine cities and towns border the Connecticut River, including the cities of Springfield and Hartford. The entire watershed encompasses more than 400 cities and towns with a combined population of 2 million, including students at 35 universities and colleges.

River Resources

The Connecticut is an economic lifeline for the region. In communities along its banks, some 50,000 businesses employ more than 643,000 people and generate revenues of more than $200 billion a year. Agriculture still covers 11 percent of the watershed's land, producing a wide variety of products and specialty foods. Tourism is a major economic activity throughout the region, with visitors coming from around the world.

The land ranges from forests and sparsely-populated rural areas in the northern end, including New England's great Northern Forest, to suburbs and industrialized urban areas in southern Massachusetts and Connecticut. The river's watershed includes one of the nation's least-disturbed tidal marsh systems in the nation and is a key habitat for a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. The river and its tributaries also play a central role in efforts to restore Atlantic salmon runs.

Community Action Plan

The Connecticut River Action plan draws together a variety of plans from communities, states, regional commissions, non-profits, and federal agencies. Over the past 20 years, major steps have been taken to clean up the river. The action plan, which will continue those efforts, envisions a river with clean water, salmon runs, improved and diverse recreational opportunities, protected open lands and river access, and riverfront development in downtown areas. Designation as an American Heritage River will be a key to improving partnerships and cooperation and ensuring grassroots support along the entire river.


Whitty Sanford, Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc. (413) 529-9500

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