The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority will open 40 miles of scenic aqueduct trails for public use in 14 communities, including Framingham, Natick, Needham, Newton, Wellesley, and Weston, the agency announced today.
With this policy, the MWRA is now formally encouraging public access through partnerships with neighboring communities.
Municipalities can enter into agreements with the MWRA to assume some stewardship responsibilities, allowing for the trails in their towns to be officially open to the public for recreational use.
Previously, anyone using the closed trails would be considered trespassing on MWRA property.
The aqueducts form a recreational trail network through 14 communities, including Berlin, Boston, Clinton, Framingham, Marlborough, Natick, Needham, Newton, Northborough, Sherborn, Southborough, Wayland, Wellesley, and Weston.
Local legislators, Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Chris Walsh, had also filed a bill in January 2011 to open the trails.
The bill would allow residents to engage in "passive recreation" along the aqueducts, unless the MWRA's Board of Directors votes to prohibit access to a particular area for security reasons.