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Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Puts $30,000 Toward Local Planning Effort for Pleasant Bay
December 13, 1995
Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM) announces that it will target $30,000 from its federal grant to develop a Resource Management Plan for the Pleasant Bay Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).
"CZM is happy to provide $30,000 to this important effort," announced Peg Brady, CZM's Director. "Creating a Resource Management Plan for the Pleasant Bay ACEC is essential to ensure that this outstanding estuary is properly protected. The plan will not only help Pleasant Bay, it will serve as a model for the 12 other coastal ACECs that still need to develop their own plans. We are also looking forward to working with the towns, other state and federal agencies, and private groups that are striving to preserve the Bay."
"I applaud CZM's efforts to secure these funds for Pleasant Bay," commented Trudy Coxe, Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA). "Massachusetts ACECs represent some of our most valuable, and fragile, natural resources, which is why I encourage EOEA's Department of Environmental Management to work aggressively to designate ACECs and help local communities develop plans to manage these areas. It is wonderful that CZM can help direct federal funds to help make this effort work."
The CZM funds will be used to coordinate efforts to develop the plan, which will lay the foundation for how to balance competing uses (such as aquaculture, boating, recreation, and fishing), while protecting the resources of the Bay. CZM will hold a meeting of town officials, the Cape Cod Commission, community and environmental organizations, other state agencies, and local residents to begin the planning process. The meeting will be held on Thursday, October 26, at 2:00 p.m., at the Orleans Town Offices on School Street.
The Pleasant Bay ACEC, which was designated in 1987, covers approximately 9,000 acres in Orleans, Chatham, Harwich, and Brewster. The Selectmen and the Chairs of the Planning Boards and Conservation Commissions of the four towns nominated Pleasant Bay as an ACEC in October, 1986, because of its outstanding natural resources. Pleasant Bay is extremely well preserved, with largely unaltered barrier beaches and islands, approximately 1,200 acres of salt marsh, thousands of acres of tidal flats, and numerous fresh and saltwater ponds. These areas offer high quality wildlife habitat for fish, shellfish, and birds, including almost 30 state-listed rare species.
The number of different agencies and groups that are involved with the development of a Resource Management Plan for Pleasant Bay underscores the extent of this resource. Along with the four towns, CZM, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Cape Cod Commission, the Cape Cod National Seashore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Friends of Pleasant Bay, and the Friends of Chatham Waterways are all involved. After Pleasant Bay was designated as an ACEC, the Friends of Pleasant Bay took the lead in the joint effort to develop a Resource Management Plan for the area, and raised over $30,000 to contribute to the plan. In 1993, the four towns worked together to develop an ambitious scope of work for the plan, with extensive help from Pam Rubinoff, CZM's Cape Cod Regional Coordinator. Unfortunately, however, the project ran into funding and administrative hurdles. With strong support from Trudy Coxe, Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA), and the many groups involved, the towns worked to overcome these hurdles. CZM's $30,000, when combined with other monetary and in-kind contributions from friends and supporters, will finally make a Resource Management Plan for Pleasant Bay a reality.
When asked about what the plan will accomplish, Orleans' Town Planner Paul Halkiotis, commented, "Pleasant Bay is a tremendous resource with many competing demands, including finfishing, aquaculture, recreation, and boating. One of the purposes of the plan will be to balance the competing uses and come up with a way that all can be accommodated, without threatening the health of the Bay." Alan McClennan of the Friends of Pleasant Bay also commented, "There are a lot of forces affecting the Bay that must be looked at very seriously. We need a Resource Management Plan to take a comprehensive look in the four towns."
The ACEC Program was established in 1975 to provide greater levels of protection for the most significant natural resources in the state. "This special designation, given by the Secretary of EOEA after an extensive nomination and public review process, recognizes the critical nature and significance of these areas, and directs state agencies to focus their efforts on the long-term preservation, restoration, enhancement, use, and management of the area," explained Leslie Luchonok, DEM's ACEC Program Director.