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The mission of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council is to encourage, support and promote the restoration and preservation of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed as an environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic asset of the State of Rhode Island.
In 1998, President Clinton designated the river as an American Heritage River, in part, because of the significant role it played in the Industrial Revolution. The Woonasquatucket was one of the first rivers to be dammed by mill-owners to insure a steady supply of water year-round for their mills. In the last thirty years, as jobs have left the region and the mills have closed, the river has gone from a valued industrial asset to a neglected natural resource. In urban areas the river itself and its banks have become a dumping ground for chemicals and large solid debris. In rural areas the river is threatened by development pressures that swallow up open space and pave over the river banks.