For Immediate Release - December 12, 2016

State Environmental Officials Announce Federal Grant to Improve Ecology and Public Safety in the Deerfield River Watershed

BOSTON – December 12, 2016 – State environmental officials today announced that the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) was awarded a $179,620 Forest and Rivers Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The grant will enable DER to increase the pace of replacing undersized culverts in the Deerfield River watershed, improving stream connectivity and reducing roadway and flood hazards.

“This grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will help towns in the Deerfield River watershed to vastly improve the network of undersized culverts in the region and to protect critical cold water habitat,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This project demonstrates the kind of practical approach to increase the resiliency of our infrastructure and wildlife habitat that will support the state’s climate adaptation goals under Executive Order 569, and we forward to working with municipalities to improve road infrastructure and habitat conditions in cold water rivers.”

DER’s Stream Continuity Program helps municipalities replace undersized culverts with better designed structures that meet ecological and public safety criteria, ultimately resulting in improvements to stream connectivity and a reduction in roadway and flood hazards.

The grant from NFWF will help DER continue to develop and deliver a culvert engineering and design, permitting, and construction toolkit with associated trainings to help municipal staff better design and build culverts that meet the required Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards. The grant, in conjunction with other DER funds, will immediately advance the design and/or construction of up to six culverts in the Deerfield River watershed and in time will lead to many more replacements.

“The Deerfield River watershed has some of the best cold water fisheries habitat in the Commonwealth, and we are pleased to partner with the cities and towns in the region to improve habitat for fish and wildlife and roadway infrastructure,” said DFG Commissioner George Peterson.

The funding received from the federal government also builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s strong leadership to mitigate and adapt to climate change by improving the resiliency of our infrastructure and wildlife habitats. Earlier this year, in a continued effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change, Governor Baker signed an Executive Order which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth.

“This project is a win for fish and a win for the community,” said Amanda Bassow, Northeastern Regional Director at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “It is terrific when we can support projects like this that improve habitat for wildlife, while also reducing risks from flooding for the community.”

Nearly half of Massachusetts’s estimated 30,000 culverts are undersized and barriers to fish and wildlife. Undersized culverts are also a serious risk to public safety, as increased rainfall amounts cause roads to overtop and washout. Replacing culverts to meet the Stream Crossing Standards allow streams to flow more naturally, which allows for fish and storm waters to pass more easily. Recent studies also show the culverts that meet the Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards are less expensive than traditional culvert replacements over the life of the replacement.

“The work DER is doing with DPWs in the Deerfield River watershed and around the state is a blessing,” said Deerfield DPW Director Kevin Scarborough. “The Stream Continuity Program has been extremely helpful to our small town, and it is great to work with them.”

“Reconstructing our culverts to better manage our waterways provides for long term sustainability of our eco-system and protects public safety,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “These funds will help improve the management of the Deerfield River Watershed while conserving an important resource for Western Massachusetts.”

"Protection of our waterways from pollution and erosion is critically important to maintaining natural habitats and building healthier ecosystems,” said State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). “This grant funding for the Deerfield River enhances efforts to improve access and safety on the river, and to help preserve it as one of our great natural resources in western Massachusetts.”

“The cooperative efforts of both our state and federal government to obtain this grant will assist our local communities’ efforts to provide safe and efficient infrastructure and enhanced fish and wildlife habitat for all to enjoy,” said State Representative Gailanne Cariddi (D-North Adams).

"This grant represents an important investment in the future of the Deerfield River watershed,” said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). “I am grateful to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for this funding which will allow us to take a necessary step in maintaining and improving the natural stream patterns of our ecosystems, avoid erosion, and halt the build-up of debris. I look forward to working with the EEA to ensure Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards.”

The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) is to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands, and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment.

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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