For Immediate Release - November 16, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Start of Flood Mitigation and Salt Marsh Restoration Project in Cohasset

BOSTON - Friday, November 12, 2010 - In keeping with the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to protecting coastal habitats, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles today announced the start of a project in Cohasset to mitigate flood impacts and restore tidal flow to a salt marsh on the James Brook.

Design and construction of this culvert replacement project is funded by a $450,000 grant through the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) in partnership with the Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

"Protecting our valuable coastal habitats for fisheries and wildlife benefits and reducing the impacts of flooding will ensure the continued health of the Massachusetts shoreline and coastal communities for years to come," said Secretary Bowles, whose offices include CZM and DFG.

In addition to mitigating flood impacts and reducing associated costs to the community, the project will help restore tidal flow to a 12-acre salt marsh, enhancing salt marsh productivity and associated habitat for fish and wildlife species. Salt marshes are among the most productive ecosystems on earth and their productivity directly supports commercial and recreational fisheries. Replacing the James Brook culvert will restore tidal flow and greatly improve habitat for fish such as mummichogs, killifish, and sticklebacks, and avian wildlife such as several wading and shorebird species.

"Healthy salt marshes are essential to the viability of commercial and recreational fisheries, providing important feeding, spawning, and nursery habitat," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "These projects provide an opportunity for local communities to repair and upgrade critical infrastructure and improve environmental performance by reestablishing the vital ecological connections between coastal and wetland systems."

Funding for this project came from the environmental bond signed by Governor Patrick in 2008.

Prior to the early 1900s, the 14-acre Jacobs Meadow was fragmented from Cohasset Harbor when Border Street, and an associated undersized culvert that ran underneath James Brook, was constructed between the harbor and marsh. This culvert limited stream and stormwater flows exiting James Brook, resulting in flooding of residences and the town center area. The culvert also reduced tidal inundation to the Jacobs Meadow marsh, resulting in the proliferation of the invasive plant Phragmites australis, or common reed, which now dominates the marsh.

The existing James Brook culvert is in an advanced state of deterioration and collapsing into the brook, exacerbating the flooding and ecological impairment issues. The state-funded project entails reconstruction and enlargement of the existing culvert and replacement of the current flapper-style gates with a larger programmable tide gate that will allow for greater control to release stormwater flows from the brook and tidal flow into the Jacobs Meadow salt marsh.

Jacobs Meadow was identified as a high priority site for restoration during a 2001 region-wide review of tidal restricted sites on the South Shore and nominated by the town of Cohasset for DFG Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) priority restoration project status in 2006.

"This project is a long time coming and wouldn't have happened without all the support we received from CZM, DER, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Marine Fisheries Service, and EPA," said Cohasset Board of Selectmen Chair Karen Quigley. "The town is extremely grateful for all their assistance. This project will alleviate flooding to abutters but, equally importantly, will begin restoration of the Jacobs Meadow salt marsh."

Project partners that have contributed to this initiative include Massachusetts Bays Programs; the National Marine Fisheries Service-Habitat Conservation Division, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research. This project also complements and builds on previous flood mitigation work funded through the Federal and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agencies.

DFG is responsible for promoting the enjoyment and conservation of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land preservation and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and game species, and enforcement of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. 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 lakes and ponds.