For Immediate Release - February 27, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces $1 Million Federal Grant to Restore Saugus’ Rumney Marshes

BOSTON – Monday, February 27, 2012 – The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced $1 million in funding to restore Rumney Marsh in Saugus from the Obama Administration's U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant Program (NCWCG). 

“I would like to thank the Obama Administration for awarding us the funds to help protect a key piece of coastal wetlands for generations to come,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “This important restoration effort goes hand in hand with our mission to preserve the Commonwealth’s most precious natural resources.” 

“It is rare that we have the opportunity to protect and restore critical piece of wildlife habitat right in Boston’s backyard,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “This funding will make it possible to restore an expansive marshland that provides habitat for migratory birds, shellfish and other wildlife, as well as recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, walking and bird watching.”

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), in partnership with the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), will conserve 297 acres of salt marsh, tidal creek and upland buffer within DCR’s 815-acre Rumney Marsh Reservation and restore the 33-acre Ballard Street Salt Marsh in Saugus with funding received from the grant.  

“The Rumney Marsh Reservation is one of our state’s newest and fastest growing reservations, this project will permanently protect some of the Commonwealth’s most productive wildlife habitats,” said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert Jr. “A growing number of hikers, sportsmen, sea kayakers and canoeists visit this urban refuge every season and this project reaffirms our commitment to act as stewards to this signature recreational and habitat-rich area.” 

The marshes, comprised of 2,000 acres of extensive salt marsh and tidal creeks that back the beaches in Nahant, Revere, and Winthrop, are the largest contiguous area of salt marsh in the Boston metropolitan area. 

Designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the Rumney Marshes is among the most biologically significant salt marshes north of Boston and is vital to the wildlife, water quality, and economy of the Boston Harbor region. 

“Located along the Atlantic Flyway, the Rumney Marshes are home to waterfowl, shorebirds, and shellfish, making this project critical from an ecological perspective,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. “This type of project benefits Massachusetts’ construction industry and produces substantial recurring benefits, such as water purification and flood protection, for the surrounding area.”

While its conservation value is appreciated today, more than 40 percent of the Rumney Marshes pre-Colonial extent was filled to make way for development over hundreds of years. Additional areas, such as the 33-acre Ballard Street Marsh, are impacted by road crossings, tide gates, and undersized culverts that bisect the marsh and reduce tidal flow. 

As part of the project, DCR will reaffirm the permanent conservation of 297 acres within its Rumney Marsh Reservation, leveraging $1 million in NCWCG funding to restore the Ballard Street Salt Marsh. At Ballard Street, relocation of a tide gate and undersized culverts will restore tidal flow to the marsh, while excavation of fill will expose additional salt marsh habitat, increase flood storage capacity, improve drainage, and provide flood protection the adjacent neighborhood along Eastern Avenue in Saugus. 

In announcing NCWCG recipients, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar acknowledged coastal wetlands as some of nature’s most productive fish and wildlife habitat, and highlighted their importance in providing storm protection, improved water quality, and abundant recreational opportunities for local communities “I am pleased that with these grants we are able to help our state partners implement some of their high-priority projects that support both conservation and recreation along their coasts,” said Secretary Salazar. 

For the Rumney Marshes and the surrounding communities, the project embodies the ideals highlighted by Secretary Salazar---coastal wetland protection and restoration, community preservation, and realization of a high-priority project.  The Ballard Street Restoration Project, in development for over a decade, is identified as the highest priority restoration opportunity within the Rumney Marshes ACEC.

“The Rumney Marshes are an iconic and ecologically critical area of the Commonwealth’s coastline,” said U.S. Senator Scott Brown. “I am pleased to support this grant as we work to ensure the marshes are protected for future generations.”

“It is important to support conservation and recreation along our coastline,” said Congressman John Tierney. "Healthy marshes have been proven to clean and purify water, strengthen storm protection, and provide a source of new habitats for our wildlife.  It is good news that federal funding will help to restore the Rumney Marsh in Saugus."

DCR and DER have been working with a broad array of project partners for several years to secure funding, develop engineering design plans, perform preliminary site assessments, and initiate permitting. Funding for restoration from the NCWCG program is a significant advancement for this ambitious project, whose ultimate price tag will exceed $1.7 million for the 33-acre restoration. Funding for project development has already been provided by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

“I am very pleased to hear that this project will receive the funding necessary to protect and restore this important habitat,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico. “Revitalizing Rumney Marsh will both benefit the local wildlife and provide additional outdoor recreational activities for the residents of Saugus. I commend the Patrick-Murray Administration for its dedication to the protection and conservation of Massachusetts’ natural resources and habitats.”

“Investing in this project restores the habitat for wildlife while also increasing the recreational value and safety of the area for residents,” said Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein. “This grant will benefit the community in countless ways in both the short and long term.”

“This is a win-win for the project and the town,” said Saugus Conservation Agent Frank McKinnon. “Restoring the Ballard Street Marsh will provide critical habitat for fish, waterfowl, and shellfish, renewed recreational opportunities for the community, and improved flood protection for area residents.”

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr., the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit www.mass.gov/dcr. Contact us at mass.parks@state.ma.us.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) 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.

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