For Immediate Release - April 22, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Grants for Improving Habitat Condition in Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay

$99,956 in Federal Funds Awarded to Protect and Restore Environmental Health in the Region

BOSTON – April 22, 2016 - Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton today announced $97,828 in federal grant money to help towns and organizations improve ecosystem health in Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay. The grants, announced during Earth Week, are being matched by $99,112 in municipal and private contributions and focus on supporting the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program’s (MassBays) mission to protect, restore, and enhance the estuarine resources of the region.

“Earth Week is about thinking globally and acting locally, and the Healthy Estuary grants allow us to provide federal funds to local projects to protect and improve water quality and habitat in our bays and estuaries,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

“Identifying and funding important local environmental projects like these makes a lasting impact and magnifies the value of the investment as federal funds are matched dollar for dollar by our local partners,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

“These grants allow us to fund targeted projects at the local level that will protect coastal habitats and water quality from the New Hampshire border to the tip of Cape Cod,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Mathew Beaton. “We thank the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the funding and applaud the dedicated local groups receiving these grants for their environmental leadership.”

The Healthy Estuaries grants are awarded by the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program through the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“MassBays creates partnerships to promote local, state and federal efforts to protect Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay,” said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. “These four projects are another excellent example of ensuring that available federal funding makes a real difference at the local level.”

“We are fortunate to have so many community-based partners connecting MassBays to local initiatives,” said Pam DiBona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program. “We are proud to support these projects, which will inform work across the entire region.”

The following five grants were awarded:

Center for Coastal Studies - $31,986 - Building on data collected during preliminary studies over the past few years, the Center for Coastal Studies will conduct an extensive assessment of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in Cape Cod Bay estuaries to evaluate ecological health risks and provide a more complete understanding of how land use patterns affect water quality beyond nutrient contamination. Results on possible causal links between land use, wastewater and discharge of pollutants will help inform decision-making in Cape Cod Bay.

MIT Sea Grant College Program - $28,500 - River herring is an iconic species in Massachusetts waterways, yet its ecology is still in many ways a mystery. Through this project, surveys will be conducted to identify specific river herring habitat preferences and resource use that will inform ongoing restoration efforts to convert cranberry bogs to natural wetland and restore fish passage in Fresh Pond in Plymouth. Results will inform future habitat restoration efforts and improve species and habitat management efforts.

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod, Inc. - $15,010 - In 2015, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) developed a comprehensive Cape-wide inventory of coastal restoration projects. In response to a need for coordination of restoration efforts, APCC established the Restoration Coordination Center to assist towns by providing coordination, project management, technical assistance, and outreach to implement effective restoration projects. With this funding, APCC will prioritize restoration projects and identify two top-priority projects to develop for planning and construction, including submission of proposals for funding. Habitat restoration efforts will continue to be instrumental in fulfilling MassBays’ goal to improve ecosystem health.

Town of Braintree - $16,000 - In partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the Fore River Watershed Association, and private entities, the Town of Braintree is currently working on a project that will restore fish passage to the 180-acre Great Pond Reservation. This grant will provide funding to conduct comprehensive wetland delineation and develop a sediment management plan, thereby permitting the project to move toward completion. The restoration of fish passage addresses MassBays’ goal for improvement of habitat conditions and resources.

Town of Wellfleet - $8,640 – The Mayo Creek estuary of Wellfleet Harbor was diked in 1909 resulting in extensive estuarine habitat destruction. Preliminary analyses suggest that tidal restoration is possible with appropriate culvert design and the town of Wellfleet’s Mayo Creek Restoration Committee will use an existing hydrodynamic tide-height model to assess various culvert configurations. Results will help pave next steps towards development of an appropriate culvert design and implementation that will eventually allow salt marsh recovery, protect structures, and permit gradual restoration of 20 acres of salt marsh habitat in the center of Wellfleet. 

“I applaud the announcement of this funding for five critical conservation efforts that will directly impact Southeastern Massachusetts,” said Congressman William Keating (MA-9th). “Each of these recipients will provide irreplaceable data that will shape the conservation efforts of estuaries, waterways, habitats, and wetlands moving forward. As a long-time supporter of federal funding for coastal and community-based habitat restoration programs, I am elated to see projects of this caliber receive this funding. On both an individual and collective level, these projects will directly benefit the health of our local ecosystems and our local communities.”

“I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for directing these grants to the Center for Coastal Studies, the MIT Sea Grant College Program, and the Association to Preserve Cape Cod,” said State Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “These organizations are doing important work preserving the natural resources in our region that are so vital to health of our environment and our communities.”

“That three of these grants are offering support to projects spanning the shoreline of Cape Cod is strong recognition from the Baker-Polito Administration about the need for environmental protection and restoration of our magnificent peninsula,” said Cape and Islands State Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich). “With two great non-profits, and a strong town partnership, I know that each of these grants will create impact, understanding --- and better public policy.”

“I am pleased to see the Federal government team up with the municipalities and the private sector to award these ecosystem health grants, and that Cape Cod will greatly benefit from them,” said State Representative Randy Hunt(R-Sandwich). “Now more than ever, we need more collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as between the various levels of government.”

“Preserving our environment is just as critical as protecting our economy,” said State Representative Timothy Whelan (R-Brewster). “This grant money will allow us to continue protecting our coastal habitats, improving our water quality, and most importantly it will strengthen our partnership with MassBays. We are fortunate to have phenomenal advocates in Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and Secretary Beaton. I would like to thank them for their efforts in getting this federal grant money released. I know it will make a tremendous difference to not just Cape Cod, but to areas located along the South Shore Region.”

The Office of Coastal Zone Management is EEA’s lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues. The Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program provides grants and technical assistance to 50 communities (Salisbury to Provincetown) to protect and restore water quality and natural resources in Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay and is one of 28 programs designated by EPA under Section 320 of the federal Clean Water Act.

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