PRESS & MEDIA
Blackstone Heritage Corridor Survey Results Identify Priorities for the Region
Whitinsville, MA (August 13, 2021) – Results from the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor’s Public Input Survey this summer reveal top interests and desired priorities in the 25-community, bi-state region extending from Worcester, MA to Providence, RI. BHC was assisted in this effort with the cooperation of the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC). BHC’s Board of Directors will use the results to refine goals in its strategic plan for the next five years and beyond.
Outdoor recreation topped the list of activities most enjoyed in the National Heritage Corridor, followed by visiting scenic overlooks, museums and historic sites, dining out, and concerts and plays. Of the nearly 500 people who took the survey, 15% do not live in the Corridor but often travel to the region to enjoy similar activities as Valley residents, and ranked recreation, museums and historical sites, food and drink, entertainment, and events as the top five things that inspire visits.
The survey asked what respondents would like to see more of in the Corridor and the top priority was identified as an off-road bikeway, followed by bike lanes on the road, canoe and kayak access points for rivers, fish ladders to open the river for Alewife, Herring, and Shad, and signage directing to historic sites.
Respondents revealed that many had never visited the Corridor’s Heritage Centers, and answers showed the most visited center was River Bend Farm at Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, MA, followed by the Blackstone River Valley Heritage Center in Worcester, MA. Other Corridor centers include the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, RI, the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center in Pawtucket, RI, the Kelly House Museum in Lincoln, RI, and Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence, RI.
The survey asked respondents to rank the importance of historical and societal features in setting goals for the Corridor. The top five include preserving the history of the communities within the Blackstone Valley, celebrating the Blackstone Valley’s role as the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, telling the Valley’s story to residents and visitors, supporting the National Historical Park, and supporting historical museums and sites in the Corridor communities. Promoting tourism in the Valley ranked a close tie in this category.
The top five desired goals for environmental and recreation features in the Valley include completing the Blackstone River Bikeway/Greenway, improving state and local parks, preserving key features of the Blackstone Canal, developing river walks along area rivers, and organizing annual river and community cleanups.
The Blackstone Heritage Corridor manages the National Park Service Volunteers-In-Parks program and asked survey respondents if they were interested in volunteering with the National Heritage Corridor and the National Historical Park. Thirty-four percent responded yes, with their top interest being river cleanups followed by water quality monitoring, visitor center support, Blackstone River Bikeway Ambassadors, and historical interpretation. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org/volunteer.
“We’re very pleased with the number and quality of the responses received,” BHC Board Chair Richard T. Moore noted. “Blackstone Valley residents clearly support historic preservation, environmental conservation, and an active outdoor recreation program. The results also re-affirm the Corridor’s efforts to complete the Blackstone River Bikeway/Greenway and advocate for the restoration of key segments of the historic canal.”
To discover and navigate to the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor’s many parks and trails, heritage centers, museums and historic sites, canoe and kayak launch sites, and more, visit BHC’s new interactive map at bit.ly/BHCIMAP. The map can also be found on BHC’s website at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.