Environmental Officials Celebrate Completion of Chatham Salt Marsh Restoration
"Salt marshes are vital nurseries for juvenile fish and are home to a diversity of native wildlife that is uniquely adapted to living in tidal areas," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "Species like mummichogs and sticklebacks will benefit from this project, as well as striped bass and bluefish that prey on these bait fish."
The restoration site is a former cranberry bog owned by the Chatham Conservation Foundation. The undersized and deteriorated culvert under Cranberry Lane was replaced with a larger state-of-the-art conduit to improve tidal flow to the marsh. Increased tidal exchange will aid in rehabilitating the area, which is presently infested with stands of invasive Phragmites or common reed - an indicator of poor tidal exchange and degraded wetland conditions.
Restoration project partners included the Chatham Conservation Foundation (CCF), DER, Cranberry Lane Homeowners Association, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Massachusetts Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership.
"The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service was pleased to support this project. Our actions will assist in the restoration of native salt marsh vegetation that ultimately will provide significant benefits to migratory birds and other estuarine wildlife," said USFWS Fish and Wildlife Biologist Eric Derleth.
"Local, state and federal partnerships continue to galvanize and expand coastal conservation measures, benefitting our shellfish and finfish resources," said Donald Liptack, NRCS District Conservationist based out of Hyannis. "The Cranberry Lane salt marsh project is another example of the cumulative benefits of the conservation partnership between the Cape Cod Conservation District, NRCS and the Division of Ecological Restoration."
The site is one of more than 15 tidal wetland restoration projects currently under development on Cape Cod, ranging in size from the recently completed 14-acre project at Sunken Meadow in Eastham, to the 1,000-acre Herring River restoration in Wellfleet and Truro.
"We are thrilled to see natural tides back on the Cranberry Lane salt marsh," said David Doherty, president of CCF. "The Chatham Conservation Foundation appreciates the assistance of the federal, state and private partners that made this project on our land possible. CCF's mission is to preserve natural lands for the benefit of people and the environment, and this project really serves our mission well."
The larger culvert will not only provide full tidal exchange on the higher tides - which was restricted by the undersized culvert - but also will improve site drainage. With a shifting climate and anticipated sea level rise, this project will allow the salt marsh to migrate naturally over time to adjacent low lying areas that currently contain freshwater or brackish wetlands.
"This is a great example of a project that factors in climate change and allows salt marsh to persist in the future by adapting to predicted sea level rise," said Tim Purinton, DER Director.
"A repair like this does more than restore salt marsh; it also helps restore faith in our ability to be good stewards of our environment," said Sen. Dan Wolf. "I congratulate everyone involved in this small case study for how we keep Cape Cod healthy, and look forward to more examples of its kind."
"This project is a win-win. We have a new state of the art culvert, but most importantly we have improved this ecologically important salt marsh." said Rep. Sarah Peake.
The total project cost was just under $140,000, with contributions of $55,000 from the Commonwealth environmental bond fund, $50,000 from NRCS, $25,000 from USFWS, and $8,500 in additional private funds.
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.