BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration announced today $2,115,000 in grant funding to support eight river and wetland restoration projects that will restore healthy habitat while helping to increase climate resilience, address aging infrastructure, and create opportunities for outdoor recreation. Seven of these projects are designated Priority Projects through the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) Priority Projects Program. The remaining project is designated as a Culvert Replacement Training Site through DER’s Culvert Replacement Training Initiative.
“Investing in ecological restoration work is an important part of the Commonwealth’s preparation for the future as climate change impacts continue to be felt throughout the state,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These projects demonstrate the leading role Massachusetts is taking in advancing restoration efforts to address environmental issues.”
“Through support from the Commonwealth and our strong partners, these projects will provide a variety of ecological, economic, and social benefits to Massachusetts communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Importantly, our Administration will continue to partner with key stakeholders to achieve goals that directly benefit the public.”
The Priority Projects Program is one of the vehicles by which DER pursues restoration projects that present the greatest benefits. The seven established Priority Projects that are receiving funding include wetland, salt marsh, and cranberry bog restoration projects, which will restore healthy habitat and provide benefits to Massachusetts communities, such as addressing the expected impacts of climate change. Once completed, these Priority Projects will provide significant social, environmental, and economic benefits to the Commonwealth and local communities. To review a full list of active ecological restoration Priority Projects throughout the state, please visit DER’s Priority Projects Map webpage.
“As Massachusetts communities begin to feel the impacts of climate change, the Baker-Polito administration has invested significantly in bolstering our environmental infrastructure to build resiliency in our cities and towns,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Preparing for climate change requires that we rebuild and replace infrastructure that was designed for historical climate conditions while at the same time restoring natural ecosystems like floodplains and wetlands so they can buffer our communities from the worst impacts of climate change.”
DER’s Culvert Replacement Training Initiative provides hands-on training to road managers at culvert upgrade sites throughout Massachusetts. Through this initiative, municipalities may receive direct technical assistance and funding to advance the replacement of select municipally-owned culverts at strategic locations while providing convenient, centralized learning locations for local road managers.
“These projects will not only support and improve the environment throughout the state, but also provide economic benefits, recreational opportunities, improve infrastructure and public safety, and increase resilience to climate change for Massachusetts communities,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon.
“The Division of Ecological Restoration is proud to support these projects and excited to see them continue forward to benefit both the people and environment of the Commonwealth,” said Division of Ecological Restoration Director Beth Lambert.
The following projects were awarded funds through DER’s Priority Projects Program through a combination of DER’s Capital Budget and federal grant funds:
Marsh Island Restoration, Fairhaven
Award: Buzzards Bay Coalition, $2,000,000
This award will support construction for the Marsh Island Salt Marsh Restoration Project, which will restore 11 acres of previously filled salt marsh within a larger 22-acre property along New Bedford Harbor, restore tidal flow, improve water quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and provide opportunities for public access. Partners include the Buzzards Bay Coalition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center, the New Bedford Harbor Trustees Council, the Fairhaven-Acushnet Land Preservation Trust, the Town of Fairhaven, and a private radio company. The funding for this award comes from the New Bedford Harbor Trustees Council Natural Resources Damages Trust Fund.
Marston Mills Bogs Restoration, Barnstable
Award: Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, $6,000
This award will support project management of the Marston Mills Cranberry Bog Wetland Restoration Project, which is working to protect land and restore wetlands in approximately 55-acres of cranberry farmland. Partners include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, Town of Barnstable, The Nature Conservancy, and others.
Pinnacle Bogs Restoration, Plymouth
Award: The Kapell Pinnacle Watercourse Trust, $10,000
This award will support pre-construction activities for the Pinnacle Bogs Wetland Restoration Project, which will restore approximately 15 acres of wetlands within a retired commercial cranberry farm while maintaining a perimeter trail system for future conversion to public open space. Partners include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, and Town of Plymouth.
South Meadow Reserve Restoration, Carver
Award: Edgewood Bogs LLC, $20,000
This award will support the acquisition and delivery of large woody material for use in wetland restoration as part of the South Meadow Wetlands Reserve Restoration Project. This project will restore approximately 30 acres of wetland on a retiring commercial cranberry farm. Partners include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and a private landowner.
Tidmarsh Farms Restoration, Plymouth
Award: Mass Audubon, $10,000
This award will support habitat enhancement and biological monitoring as part of the Tidmarsh Farms Restoration Project, which is the largest freshwater wetland project completed to date in Massachusetts. This project transitioned a large private cranberry farm to protected public open space and involved 225-acres of restoration, 3.5 miles of channel reconstruction, removal of 8 dams, and placement of 3,000 pieces of large woody habitat. Partners included the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Mass Audubon, the Town of Plymouth, Living Observatory, and others.
Upper Bass River Wetland Restoration, Yarmouth
Award: Friends of Bass River, $36,000
This award will support project management, modeling, and tidal analysis required to inform preliminary design for the Upper Bass River Wetland Restoration project. This project will improve tidal flushing and water quality to the Bass River and its surrounding tributaries by replacing two undersized, tidal road-stream crossings and restoring a cranberry bog to a more natural state. Partners include the Town of Yarmouth.
Windswept Bogs Restoration, Nantucket
Award: Nantucket Conservation Foundation, $8,000
This award will support project management and biological, chemical, and physical monitoring services for the Windswept Bogs Wetland Restoration Project. This project involves wetland restoration across approximately 37-acres of retired commercial cranberry farmland set within 241-acres of protected open space. Partners include the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition to the seven newly funded Priority Projects, a further $25,000 in state capital funds was awarded for the following Culvert Replacement Training Site:
Rice Corner Cross Road Culvert Replacement Training Site, Brookfield
Award: Town of Brookfield, $25,000
This award will support and construction for the replacement of a culvert on Rice Corner Cross Road in Brookfield. Replacing this severely degraded culvert will provide passage for resident brook trout and other aquatic species and will improve Brookfield’s infrastructure and storm resilience. This culvert has been a DER culvert replacement training site since 2016 and will host DER-led municipal culvert replacement trainings.
“Preserving and restoring the Cape and Islands’ natural environment is not only essential to supporting our local wildlife and ecology but ensures future generations will be able to enjoy the native beauty of our little corner of the world,” said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “I am delighted Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, Friends of Bass River, and Nantucket Conservation Foundation received the DER Priority Project grants. These organizations will utilize this funding to protect and restore wetlands on Cape Cod and Nantucket.”
“The restoration of Marsh Island is yet another milestone in the recovery of New Bedford Harbor and the beautiful Buzzards Bay,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). “As a past member and former chairman of the Buzzards Bay Oil Commission to remedy the hazardous effects of the devastating Bouchard oil spill, I commend the leadership of the Buzzards Bay Coalition for continuing to ensure the conservation of this critical watershed for generations to come.”
The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration is to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands, and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment. Additionally, the Department of Fish and Game 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.