Preserving pinelands, pond shores and the Taunton River

The Conservancy is safeguarding these lands and waters vital to local communities and wildlife.


With collaboration and cutting-edge science, the Conservancy has protected places like Hockomock Swamp, rich with plant and wildlife diversity.

  • We're conserving and restoring the Taunton River and its watershed, which filters drinking water and provides recreation in southeastern Massachusetts.
  • Long recognized as a leader in using prescribed burns to restore habitat, the Conservancy is restoring native forests in southeastern Massachusetts with the careful use of fire.

Paddling down the Taunton River’s miles of flat water, one might spot a river otter slip below the stream surface or an American bittern fishing in the reeds. Hessel’s hairstreak and frosted elfin moths haunt the region’s vast tracks of pine barren forests. And the Northern red-bellied cooter makes its home in coastal ponds formed by Ice Age glaciers.

From farms to cranberry bogs to drinking water, the lives of people in this region are closely linked to these natural resources. But over the past 30 years, the region has lost one-third of its forest and agricultural land, and its population is forecasted to grow by 200,000 people over the next two decades.

The window of opportunity to preserve lands and waters in Massachusetts’ most rapidly growing region is closing quickly. But with the well being of people and nature at stake, The Nature Conservancy is safeguarding lands and waters vital to local communities and local wildlife. 

The Taunton River Watershed

The Taunton River rises from Hockomock Swamp, a 17,000-acre wetland where small streams meander through grassy fens and white cedar and red maple woodlands. The swamp’s Wampanoag name means “place where spirits dwell,” from a belief that good spirits led visitors to abundant deer and fish. Predators like bald eagles, river otter and osprey still enjoy its rich habitat.

Uninterrupted by dams, the Taunton is the main artery of a freshwater system that drains 562 square miles of Southeast Massachusetts, providing valuable services like water filtration, flood protection and recreation to 38 towns. Commercially and ecologically important fisheries run from Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay through the River and its tributaries. The Taunton is southern New England’s most intact coastal river.

Plymouth Pinelands

Just east of the watershed lies another unique resource: the Plymouth Pinelands, a fire-adapted ecosystem that arose from the landscape of sand and gravel left behind by retreating glaciers. The forest’s 20,000 acres of pine barrens and pond shores harbor species found in few other places on Earth.

The coastal plain ponds in this ecosystem are also windows on the Plymouth-Carver Sole Source Aquifer, a 500-billion gallon underground resource that supplies drinking water to six Southeast Massachusetts communities.

How We Work

From habitat loss to accelerating demands for water, rapid regional growth threatens the health the Taunton River watershed and the Plymouth Pinelands. With your help, the Conservancy can protect and restore lands and waters for all those who call Southeast Massachusetts home.

  • Keeping Ponds and Rivers Healthy
    The rivers and ponds of Southeast Massachusetts depend on sound management of groundwater. Natural flowing water and vegetated banks are also critical for fish and animals to travel freely between the places where they spawn and feed. Explore freshwater strategies in our latest report, A New Way for Water.
  • Building Sustainable Communities
    The Conservancy works with committees and coalitions to shape growth so that new residents and businesses can be accommodated without swallowing natural areas. An essential part of this work is the careful stewardship of water resources. Read about our first Aquifer summit.

Will you help us advance this important work in southeastern Massachusetts?

Southeast Massachusetts Contacts

Jon Kachmar, Southeast Massachusetts Program Director
(617) 532-8327,


Download our new Pine Barrens of Southeast Massachusetts brochure.

Download the Taunton River Watershed Priorities Map.

Download the Plymouth Carver Sole Source Aquifer Brochure.

Low-Impact Development in Southeast Massachusetts a Prezi presentation by The Nature Conservancy

A Friend in the Field
For over 40 years, Conservancy steward Wes Osborne has cared for the forests, pond and quaking bog at Black Pond Bog. Read this steward's story.


Taunton River

Watch a video and explore the Taunton River.