DER spends significant resources on assessing and removing barriers to expand habitat connectivity and allow species to seek refuge from temperature and hydrologic changes. Not only do these projects improve continuity for species, help stabilize water temperatures and improve migration opportunities, they are also important for enhancing river ecosystem functions and values. For example The Town Brook Restoration in Plymouth was featured on WBZ news as an example of a “climate-smart” restoration project. The Century Bog Restoration in Wareham is also an example of a project designed to withstand shifts in climatic conditions, utilizing the best science to build a more resilient, natural ecosystem. Improving connectivity is highlighted as a key strategy in the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaption Report .
Under a changing hydrologic regime rivers and streams will fluctuate widely. Droughts and floods are predicted. The profound impacts of extreme low periods of flows can be mitigated by well-informed dam management, water conservation, stormwater recharge and other flow restoration tools that DER employs.
The ability for salt marshes to build elevation or accrete is a function of their health. DER has completed over 60 tidal restoration projects to reestablish nutrient and sediment regimes, giving salt marshes an opportunity to keep up with sea level rise by replenishing the marsh surface with sediment and organic material. Salt marshes that are tidally restricted are subject to subsidence and lose the ability to buffer storm surges. For more information NOAA published a report titled Planning for Sea Level Rise in the Northeast: Considerations for the Implementation of Tidal Wetland Habitat Restoration Projects.
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