Patrick Administration Announces $4.74 Million in Federal Grant Awards for Coastal Resilience Projects
BOSTON – Monday, June 23, 2014 – The Patrick Administration today announced $4.74 million in coastal resilience funding from the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) for dam removal and shoreline protection projects. The eleven projects will be managed by the state Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and will restore river and marine habitat, improve public safety and create jobs. The funding includes $4.5 million to DFG’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) and $240,000 to DFG’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF).
“These projects reflect the Patrick Administration commitment to climate change adaptation and improving our aging infrastructure from our industrial past,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “These investments will protect essential infrastructure, improve our environment and enrich our communities.”
The projects are concentrated in areas where coastal and inland flooding poses a risk to public safety and where dam removal and habitat restoration will have tremendous ecological benefit. As more extreme weather is expected to impact Massachusetts, state and local communities are focusing on building resiliency to help better prepare for storms.
“Removing aging dams reduces risks to communities from large storms and is a proven method for restoring critical wildlife habitat,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin. “These dam removal projects will open up 189 river miles for migratory and resident fish and restore 90 acres of floodplain wetlands, while the Boston Harbor project will restore marine habitat and help protect coastal infrastructure.”
DMF’s project in Boston Harbor will reduce wave energy, protect transplanted eelgrass and repurpose one million cubic yards of dredged rock taken in a dredging project for the federal navigational channel. The hard bottom habitat and restored eel grass beds will benefit many finfish and shellfish native to the area and protect the city shoreline.
DER’s dam removal projects funded from the DOI grant are in the following communities: Andover, Taunton, East Bridgewater, Scituate, Ipswich, Freetown, Middleton, Pittsfield, and Pepperell. These projects aim to restore the natural benefits that healthy rivers and wetlands provide for people and the environment. Also known as ecosystem services, some of these benefits include clean water, flood protection, fisheries habitat, recreational opportunities and climate change preparedness.
The awarded funds will benefit the nine DER projects as follows:
- Andover: The grant funds will support the removal of the Balmoral Dam and the Stevens Street Dams, the first and second dam from the ocean on the Shawsheen River. Both dams are aging and removing the dams will eliminate a safety hazard and open up habitat for migratory and resident fish.
- East Bridgewater: The grant funds will support the removal of Cotton Gin Mill Dam, a poor condition dam on the Satucket River. Removing the dam will eliminate this safety hazard and will open up more than 400 acres of spawning habitat for river herring.
- Freetown: The grant funds will support the removal of the Rattlesnake Brook Dam, a poor condition dam owned by the City of Fall River. The dam currently threatens Narrows Road, the only route in and out of a residential area, and removing the dam will open up several miles of coldwater habitat for eastern brook trout and other species.
- Ipswich: The grant funds will be used to assess the feasibility of removing Ipswich Mills Dam, a town-owned head-of-tide dam on the Ipswich River. Removing the dam will improve water quality and open up nearly 18 miles of mainstream and tributary habitat for river herring, American eel, sea lamprey, and other native species.
- Middleton: The grant funds will support the removal of the South Middleton Dam, the third dam from the ocean on the Ipswich River and the only mainstream dam without a fish ladder. Removing the dam will reduce upstream flooding during storms and open up over 50 miles of mainstream and tributary habitat in the upper watershed for river herring, American eel, sea lamprey, and resident fish species.
- Pepperell: The grant funds will support the removal of the Turner Dam on the Nissitissit River will be supported. The privately owned dam is in poor condition and removing it will eliminate a threat to public safety and improve habitat for eastern brook trout and several rare species.
- Pittsfield: The grant funds will support the removal of the Tel-electric Dam, a key element in the City of Pittsfield’s greenway plan. The dam is aging, dangerous and removing it will reconnect the West Branch of the Housatonic River to coldwater habitat in the mainstream Housatonic River.
Scituate: The grant funds will allow the Town of Scituate to remove Hunters Pond Dam, the first dam from the ocean on Bound Brook. The poor condition dam threatens the integrity of the residential road built across it and removing it will open up habitat for migratory fish and improve water quality.
Taunton: Using these grant funds, the Taunton Development Corporation will remove the poor condition Barstow’s Pond Dam, the first dam from the ocean on the Cotley River. Its removal will open up eight miles of habitat for river herring, American eel, sea lamprey and other native species.
“The grants announced today are in many ways symbolic of the core mission of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “They address current challenges, but at the same time, they lay the groundwork for addressing community needs and advancing long-term conservation of critical habitat and species. And these grants leverage the initial investment from the Department of the Interior with millions of dollars of additional funding and in-kind contributions, leading to a much greater conservation impact for those regions devastated by Hurricane Sandy.”
“We are grateful for the public/private partnership we have with the Division of Ecological Restoration,” said Dan Welch of Bostik, a Middleton-based manufacturing company. “We have an aging dam that requires ongoing maintenance and presents a potential risk. Working with partners, we found that removal was a much preferable option to reduce long-term liability and help restore the Ipswich River.”
“We were excited to learn about that the Coastal Resiliency Grant had been awarded. The restoration and removal of two dams on the Shawsheen River has been a goal for the Town for many years and we are excited to begin the process,” said Reginald Stapczynski, Andover Town Manager. “The grant money will increase our communities safety by removing the Marland Place dam which is listed by state regulators as a ‘significant hazard’ dam due to its threats to residents downstream should it fail.”
A recent study commissioned by DER showed that the average economic output resulting from project design and construction generates a 75 percent return on investment and creates or maintains 12.5 full-time-equivalent jobs for every $1 million spent. Thanks to the combined investments from the Obama Administration, state and local partners totaling $7 million, the 10 dam removal projects are estimated to generate 88 jobs and $12.3 million in economic output for the Massachusetts economy.
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.