The Herring River in Wellfleet runs to the sea, from its headwaters to Wellfleet Harbor at the Chequessett Neck Dike. Historically the Herring River in Wellfleet was a major passageway for diadromous fish including blueback herring, alewife and American eel to spawning ponds. Fish counts totaled hundreds of thousands each year. These fish traveled five miles along the main stem of the river to 166 acres of spawning and nursery habitat. However, the construction of the Chequessett Neck Dike in 1909 blocked fish passage along the Herring River. After several decades of scientific study and research, a project to restore tidal exchange to the Herring River estuary is in development. Hydrologic modeling for this effort was funded by a 2013 MassBays Research and Planning Grant .
This project will address the fish passage concerns in the upper watershed of the Herring River by assessing design options to remove impediments to fish passage, improve hydrologic connectivity and naturalize stream flow at two culverts and road crossings closest to the spawning ponds. This project will evaluate existing conditions of the culverts and adjacent road beds where Herring River passes under Old King’s Highway and Schoolhouse Hill Road (Patience Brook) with respect to fish passage, bank stability and erosion control; describe and evaluate a range of potential restoration approaches and alternatives to prevent stream shoaling and improve fish passage; recommend a design that improves diadromous fish passage with least annual maintenance; and outline the design, regulatory and construction steps of restoration with cost estimates. More information about the project can be found on the Friends of the Herring River website.