The Wood and Pawcatuck Rivers System lies in southeastern Connecticut and the southwestern region of Rhode Island. The source of the Pawcatuck River is in the town of South Kingston, Rhode Island, and its terminus is in the towns of Westerly, Rhode Island, and Stonington, Connecticut, where it drains to the Little Narragansett Bay (Long Island Sound). The watershed area is approximately 300-square miles, encompassing many high-quality tributaries within seven major drainage areas, including the Queen-Usquepaugh, Beaver, Wood, Chipuxet, Shunock, Green Fall-Ashway, and Pawcatuck Rivers. It is one of the few remaining relatively pristine natural areas along the northeast corridor between New York and Boston.
The Pawcatuck River and its associated tributaries run through a rural, wooded landscape amongst a series of towns that grew up on the banks of the watercourses, historically as mill villages. Vestiges of the textile and fabric dyeing industry can still be found on the banks of the rivers. The watershed is the most rural, least developed in Rhode Island, with approximately 87 percent of the land undeveloped or in agriculture and approximately 75 percent forested. The estuary of the Pawcatuck River winds its way through the more highly developed communities of Pawcatuck, Connecticut, and Westerly, Rhode Island. Development pressure is high in this region as is typical in the states along the Atlantic coastline.
These rivers are especially important because they are close to major population centers in southern New England and provide large expanses of open space and recreation.
Limited fishing access. (National Park Service, Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association)