For Immediate Release - May 19, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Five Grants to Protect Coastal Habitat

BOSTON - May 20, 2010 - Continuing the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to environmental stewardship, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles today announced $102,000 in grants for projects to protect coastal habitat in Massachusetts.

The funded projects include programs to monitor and manage invasive species on the North Shore and to restore water quality and natural river flow to sites on Cape Cod. The grants are being matched by $94,329 in state, private or municipal funds-further extending the power of the grant program.

"The Commonwealth's coastal waters are among our most precious and unique natural resources," said Governor Patrick. "We are pleased to support projects such as these that protect and enhance our coastline for future generations to enjoy."

"These grants will help communities secure large and lasting environmental results and continue their important work of conserving precious habitats for wildlife and plants up and down the Massachusetts coastline," said Secretary Bowles. "Through a partnership among the state, communities and municipalities, this program is one of many collaborative environmental stewardship efforts promoted by Governor Patrick."

Funding for this grant program, which is administered by EEA's Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), supports proactive efforts leading to real results in coastal habitat protection and restoration. Coastal habitats-such as estuaries, rivers, streams and wetlands located along the coast-provide food and shelter for threatened and commercially important species, help maintain and improve coastal water quality, and offer significant recreational and economic opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth.

"We'd like to thank all the organizations who developed proposals and are working diligently to improve coastal habitat," said Deerin Babb-Brott, EEA Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Zone Management and CZM Director. "It's exciting to see the how this seed money will be used to make a big difference along our coast. By pooling our resources, we will help stop invasive species from covering lobster traps in Salem Sound, keep pepperweed and Phragmites from choking out native plants in the Great Marsh, restore tributary streams that feed Waquoit Bay, and help restore river flow for American eel and other fish in Cold Brook in Harwich."

"Protecting the natural ecological balance in our environment is vitally important, and these projects go a long way toward doing just that," said Commissioner Rick Sullivan of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. "Many thanks to Secretary Bowles and all who contributed to making them possible."

The following projects were funded through this coastal habitat grant program.

Salem Sound Coastwatch

Project: A study in Salem Sound to evaluate and address the fouling of lobster traps with invasive species, $24,509

Match: $31,200

Invasive species, such as glob-like tunicates now found in Massachusetts marine waters, can spread quickly, out-compete native species, and cover existing structures including fishing gear. This project will expand monitoring of marine invasive species to deeper waters of Salem Sound and will focus on evaluating if these species are fouling fishing gear. Through partnerships with commercial lobstermen, fouling organisms on lobster traps within Salem Sound will be identified and cataloged. The public and commercial fishing industry will also be provided information on how to address this problem.

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission

Project: Test and prioritize tools to control invasive Phragmites australis reeds in the Great Marsh, $25,000

Match: $19,380

Phragmites australis, commonly referred to as Phragmites, is a highly invasive plant that chokes out native plant species and may reduce marsh productivity and diversity. Through this project, researchers will develop and test a new tool to identify and assess Phragmites stands in the Great Marsh, which is the largest contiguous salt marsh in New England, extending from Salisbury to Rockport. Aerial photographs and mapping will be used to develop a "visual signature" for Phragmites. This signature tool will then be used identify all Phragmites stands in the Great Marsh and threat levels will be assessed to prioritize future Phragmites control efforts. These tools can also be transferred for use in other salt marshes in Massachusetts.

Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Project: Develop a comprehensive Habitat Restoration Master Plan for tributary streams of Waquoit Bay, $25,000

Match: $9,800

Six main tributary streams flow into Waquoit Bay in Falmouth. These streams provide important habitat for herring, American eel, and one of the last remaining sea-run brook trout populations in the United States. All of these streams have been degraded in some way. The goal of this project is to consolidate available information on habitat impacts from degradation of these tributary streams and to propose solutions, rank restoration projects and complete design work for the highest priority projects-resulting in a comprehensive Habitat Restoration Master Plan for Waquoit Bay.

Harwich Conservation Trust

Project: Cold Brook restoration design project, $18,325

Match: $8,925

Cold Brook in Harwich, which flows from Glass Pond into Saquatucket Harbor in Nantucket Sound, contains several deteriorating structures that restrict water flow in the brook. This project will fund the design work needed to successfully restore these sites. Restoration of these areas will improve water quality, continue public walking trail access, and improve fish habitat, particularly for American eel.

Massachusetts Audubon Society Inc.

Project: Pepperweed patrol and control in the Great Marsh, $9,166

Match: $25,024

Perennial pepperweed is a highly invasive plant that was only recently introduced into the Northeast. It invades marsh areas and can choke out native plant species and shift the ecology of the area. The goal of this project is to reduce perennial pepperweed in priority areas of the Great Marsh. Pepperweed stands will be mapped and prioritized for removal by volunteers, who will hand-pull the plants before they release their seeds.