News

2014 Draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan Available for Public Comment - In September, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) released the Draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, September 2014 (2014 draft ocean plan) was released for public review, hearings, and a 60-day public comment period. for public review, hearings, and a 60-day public comment period. The 2014 draft ocean plan is the first formal amendment of the Commonwealth’s ocean plan, which was released in December 2009 in response to the Oceans Act of 2008. The 2009 ocean plan established protections for critical marine habitat and important water-dependent uses in the Massachusetts Ocean Planning Area and set siting and performance standards for specific ocean-based development. EEA is required by the Oceans Act to review the ocean plan every five years. As with the development of the first ocean plan, CZM led the review and update effort initiated in January 2013, working closely with the Ocean Advisory Commission and Ocean Science Advisory Council. In October, five regional public hearings were held to receive comment and input. See www.mass.gov/eea/2014-draft-ocean-plan for commenting instructions and an online copy of the draft plan, www.mass.gov/eea/mop for information on the review and update process and links to ocean plan data and documents, and the EEA Press Release for additional details. Comments on the 2014 draft ocean plan are due by November 25.

EEA Awards Grants to Restore Water Quality in Southern New England - In October, EEA announced nearly $730,000 in funding to help improve water quality in Buzzards Bay and its watershed. Part of a broader U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effort to address common water quality problems in the region, the grants will be used to reduce nutrient pollution from fertilizers, septic systems, and other sources to both fresh and saltwater systems. The grants are administered through the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program in Massachusetts and Narragansett Bay Estuary Program in Rhode Island. The new grant program is part of the Southern New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program, a partnership of public and private groups working to protect, enhance, and restore southern New England waters. The following projects were funded in the Buzzards Bay region:

  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst - $98,346 to develop management practices to control phosphorus in the discharges of cranberry bog harvest floodwaters.
  • Town of Fairhaven - $90,000 to evaluate several modifications to Fairhaven’s wastewater treatment processes that will reduce nitrogen concentrations at the Water Pollution Control Facility to a level that will meet new requirements.
  • Town of Wareham, Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility - $75,000 to further reduce nitrogen discharges from the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility to the Wareham River estuary through the installation of state-of-the-art nitrogen monitoring equipment and process controls.
  • Buzzards Bay Coalition - $50,000 to develop sewer plans and create a legal entity to enable homes in the Cedar Point area to tie into a neighborhood-scale private wastewater treatment facility, which will eliminate Title 5 systems and cesspools that are degrading water quality.
  • Buzzards Bay Coalition - $165,213 to study the release of nitrogen and phosphorus from cranberry bogs to better understand nutrient loadings.
  • Town of Falmouth - $250,000 to create and implement a grant incentive program to encourage homeowners to replace at least 20 conventional septic systems with nitrogen removing systems or eco toilets within 300 feet of West Falmouth Harbor, and to monitor their performance.

For more information on this effort in Buzzards Bay, see the Coastal Watershed Restoration Program Funding for 2014 web page.

Spatial Data for 2014 Draft Ocean Plan Now in MORIS - The spatial data presented in Volume 1 of the Draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, September 2014 are now available in the Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System (MORIS), CZM's online mapping tool. In MORIS, users can interactively view various data layers over different backdrops (aerial photographs, political boundaries, bathymetry, or other data including Google basemaps), create and share maps, and download the data for use in a Geographic Information System (GIS). A stand-alone version of MORIS that contains the data in the ocean plan can be viewed on the MORIS: Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan Data web page.

CZM Grant Funds Design Competition for Response to Sea Level Rise in Boston - On October 29, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh launched Boston Living with Water, a design competition for ideas on responding to sea level rise in Boston. Funded in part through CZM’s Coastal Community Resilience Grant Program, this two-stage competition seeks submissions that incorporate concepts and strategies, including Living with Water Design principles that will increase Boston’s sustainability and climate change resiliency. Selected finalists will further advance location-specific solutions to coastal flood dangers and rising sea levels that are beautiful and replicable. For complete competition details, see the Boston Living with Water website.

Massachusetts Ocean Plan Process Praised Following First Approved Project - The October/November/December 2014 issue of Coastal Services, a magazine from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management, features an article on the first project approved under the 2009 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. Permitted in 2013, the Comcast / NSTAR project combines electrical and fiber-optic technology into a single, underwater cable running 4.6 miles across Vineyard Sound. The project was designed with a goal to avoid sensitive marine habitats identified by the ocean plan. Once completed, the cable bundle will be buried and will avoid areas important to sea life, such as eelgrass beds and rock piles. The planning process prescribed in the ocean plan resulted in lower project costs and less review and permitting time. The case study, conducted by SeaPlan, indicates that this project is an example of how ocean planning can lead to better economic and environmental results. For details, see Massachusetts Ocean Plan Gets High Marks Following First Approved Project.

Massachusetts Receives Funds to Characterize Beaches - Geoscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Massachusetts Geological Survey, in partnership with CZM, have received a $200,000 award from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to characterize sediment types and document the existing beach and dune profiles at 22 public beaches along the Massachusetts coast over the next two years. This project will establish baseline characteristics (grain size statistics and elevation profiles) and provide the data needed for future shoreline management planning. The beaches being assessed in year one are in Cuttyhunk, Falmouth, Nantucket, Oak Bluffs, and Westport. Year two will assess beaches in Hull, Marshfield, Nahant, Newbury, Newburyport, Plymouth, Revere, Rockport, Salisbury, Sandwich, Scituate, and Winthrop.

New Federal Office for Coastal Zone Management - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management—the federal agency that administers the National Coastal Zone Management Program, which includes CZM—has merged with the Coastal Services Center to create the new Office for Coastal Management. While the basic missions of these organizations remain intact, the merger is intended to generate new efficiencies and improve effectiveness of program implementation. In addition to the National Coastal Zone Management Program, the major initiatives of this new NOAA office are Digital Coast, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, and the Coral Reef Conservation Program.

COASTSWEEP 2014—Still Sweeping Through Coastal Towns - September kicked-off the 27th annual COASTSWEEP, the state’s volunteer beach cleanup organized by CZM as part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers have already turned out in large numbers throughout Massachusetts to collect marine debris, such as trash, fishing line, and other human-made items, and record what they found. But COASTSWEEP isn’t over yet! There is still plenty of time to volunteer at a scheduled cleanup or to organize one of your own at a local beach or coastal site. All the supplies (bags, gloves, data cards, pencils, etc.) are provided free of charge, and cleanups can be scheduled at your convenience through the end of October. To find out more, see the COASTWEEP Press Release or COASTSWEEP website, especially the Get Involved page and the 2014 Cleanup List, or check out COASTSWEEP on Facebook or Twitter. For more about marine debris and how to prevent it, see the CZ-Tip - Help Clean up Massachusetts Shores at COASTSWEEP.

MassBays and CZM Awarded $149,000 to Study Tide Gates - In August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded a $149,000 grant to CZM and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program (MassBays) to document the location and condition of tide gates within the 47 coastal embayments of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays. Tide gates that are not properly managed, or abandoned, can adversely affect both coastal ecosystems and neighboring infrastructure. Efforts to improve the situation are hindered by lack of up-to-date information about how many tide gates exist and their location, condition, and operating regime (if any). Funding from this NOAA competitive grant program will be used to create a tide gate inventory that will provide the basis for determining potential and existing impacts on salt marsh systems and initiate, inform, and prioritize management for both ecological benefit and hazard mitigation. MassBays and CZM are set to begin the project in October, which will include a website that highlights the effort.

Green Crab Study Fieldwork Wraps Up - This summer, CZM looked into the impacts of invasive green crab Carcinus maenas pdf format of c_maenas.pdf
burrowing activity in Massachusetts salt marshes. (See the Mass Great Outdoors Blog post, Not from around Here: Green Crabs, for details on this study.) Green crabs prey on native organisms and can create a complex network of deep, permanent burrows in the banks of salt marsh creeks, potentially altering natural chemical processes, hastening erosion, and disrupting the ecological balance. While green crabs have been present in Massachusetts for over 100 years, this aspect of their biology has not been looked at in depth. CZM found burrows throughout Massachusetts, but no significant indications that they are impacting the salt marsh. More data is likely needed to characterize the effects. CZM will continue to study this issue to get a clearer understanding of this invasive species impact on salt marshes and other coastal habitats in Massachusetts. Visit the CZM Aquatic Invasive Species Program website for more information about marine invasive species, their impacts, and what you can do to help.

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment - The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (BBNEP) and SeaPlan have completed a climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning study for water quality infrastructure in New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Acushnet. Earlier this year, the BBNEP hired SeaPlan to complete the study and the final report is now available on the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Water Quality Infrastructure web page. In addition to the online report, SeaPlan characterizes the vulnerabilities of specific sites in the three municipalities through two online viewers: one depicts various hurricane and potential sea level rise scenarios and the other shows risk and damage predictions and cost estimates.

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Project Review/Public Comment

Please note: All official CZM requests for public comment are published in the Public Notices section of the Environmental Monitor, the bi-weekly publication from the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office.

2014 Draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan Available for Public Comment - On September 24, 2014, the Draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, September 2014 (2014 draft ocean plan) was released for public review, hearings, and a 60-day public comment period. The 2014 draft ocean plan is the first formal amendment of the 2009 ocean plan. In December 2009, EEA issued the Commonwealth’s first-ever Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, as required by the Oceans Act of 2008. The 2009 ocean plan established protections for critical marine habitat and important water-dependent uses in the Massachusetts Ocean Planning Area and set siting and performance standards for specific ocean-base development. EEA is required by the Oceans Act to review the ocean plan every five years. For more information, including the 2014 draft ocean plan, plan review and update process, technical work group reports, and the 2009 ocean plan, see the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan website.

Submit written comments on the 2014 draft ocean plan by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 to:

Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
ATTN: Ocean Plan
251 Causeway Street, Suite 800
Boston, MA 02114
Comments will also be accepted via email at: oceanplan@state.ma.us. For more information, please contact CZM at czm@state.ma.us or 617-626-1200.

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Also, check out the CZM Coastal Calendar for more CZM-related events.