Administration Awards Funding for River and Wetland Restoration Projects

WELLFLEET — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced grants totaling $727,000 for river and wetland restoration projects within Truro and Wellfleet, Chilmark, and Duxbury and Marshfield through the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration’s (DER) Priority Projects Program. The program provides projects with grant funding, project management, and contracted technical services for wetland and river restoration, urban river revitalization, and streamflow restoration projects that present the greatest benefit to the Commonwealth, ecologically, socially, and economically.

“Our Administration is committed to supporting communities and local stakeholders in their efforts to protect critical environmental and wetland habitat,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Priority Projects are vital to the Commonwealth’s efforts to combat and mitigate the impacts of climate change, and are crucial to the efforts of cities and towns who continue to work tirelessly to preserve ecosystems across the state.”

“Healthy and vibrant rivers and wetlands are important to the future viability of the Commonwealth’s environment as well as local economies and natural habitats,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “We look forward to working with communities receiving Priority Project funding to ensure these natural resources are protected and preserved for future generations.”

The funds being awarded are from state capital funds, approved by the Baker-Polito Administration, and continue a commitment to restore important habitats and increase community’s resilience to the effects of climate change.

“This funding will provide much-improved habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, river herring, and other fish and wildlife,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “Through the commitment of the Commonwealth and local stakeholders, residents and visitors alike will have improved opportunities for shellfish harvest, fishing, boating, birdwatching, and other outdoor activities.”

Projects receiving program funds include:

Location: Truro and Wellfleet

Award: $700,000 (Friends of Herring River)

Project Summary: The funding will be used to support project design, permitting, monitoring, and project coordination and advance the Herring River Estuary Restoration in Wellfleet and Truro, one of the largest ecological restoration projects in the Northeast. The project will rebuild the main dike at the river’s mouth and make other improvements across the estuary, allowing carefully controlled restoration of tidal flow to the ecosystem while protecting low-lying roads and other structures from flooding. Reconnecting the estuary to the ocean will improve water quality, increase habitat productivity for fisheries and other wildlife, restore large areas of shellfish beds, and enhance boating, fishing, and other commercial and recreational opportunities.

Location: Chilmark

Award: $15,000 (Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation)

Project Summary: The funding will be used to support the permitting process and further refinement of the designs to replace undersized culverts on Mill Brook – one of the few coldwater streams on Martha’s Vineyard. In 2016, restoration of the Mill Brook was awarded Priority Project status by the Division of Ecological Restoration. The upper portions of Mill Brook support wild brook trout as well as American brook lamprey, a rare species that has been designated Threatened by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation will replace two undersized culverts that block fish passage and impair water quality with a larger structure that provides passage for fish and wildlife and contributes to a safer road.

Location: Duxbury and Marshfield

Award: $12,000 (North and South Rivers Watershed Association)

Project Summary: The funding will be used to support the removal of two dams along the South River. The South River originates in Duxbury and flows through Duxbury and Marshfield into Cape Cod Bay. The Towns of Duxbury and Marshfield are working with the North and South Rivers Watershed Association and DER on design and permitting to remove two river barriers: Veteran’s Pond Dam, located at the mouth of the river, and owned by the Town of Marshfield, and Temple Street Dam, owned by the Town of Duxbury. Both dam removal projects will increase municipal resilience to climate change, improve water quality, and benefit migratory fish such as river herring and American eel.

“These grant-funded projects in Duxbury and Marshfield will increase the South Shore’s ability to mitigate the ongoing effects of climate change and protect coastal-zone communities,” said State Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “The Baker-Polito Administration continues to make crucial investments in the resiliency of our environment, and this grant for dam removal will allow the North and South Rivers Watershed to safely adapt to climate change in a way that preserves both ecological health and water quality.”

“Mill Brook is a natural beauty on Martha’s Vineyard and home to a diverse range of fish and wildlife, including some endangered species. It comes upon us to preserve these ecosystems and habits as well as provide resiliency efforts against the impacts of climate change that threaten them,” said State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth). “Thank you to the Administration for investing in our natural resources and working to protect some of the most beautiful and vital ecosystems in the state.”

“The Department of Fish and Game’s grants for Truro, Wellfleet and Chilmark advance important ecological restoration projects that will improve water quality, increase habitat health and reverse decades of environmental degradation,” said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “In addition, the Friends of Herring River has worked diligently to put in place a sound project that will incrementally restore tidal exchange in one of the largest estuaries in New England, rebuild the freshwater and salt water marshes located there, which will result in unprecedented environmental benefit to the Outer Cape.”

The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) is to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands, and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth’s natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth’s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.