The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $1,352,250 in state and federal grant funds for five river restoration projects within the City of Taunton, and the Towns of East Bridgewater, Falmouth, and Plymouth through the Department of Fish and Game\u2019s Division of Ecological Restoration\u2019s (DER) Priority Projects Program. The program provides projects with grant funding, project management, and contracted technical services for wetland and river restoration, urban river revitalization, and streamflow restoration projects that present the greatest benefit to the Commonwealth, ecologically, socially, and economically.\n\n\u201cOur Administration continues to place a high priority on building strong relationships with our federal, municipal, non-profit, and private partners, as we seek natural solutions that improve the environment, enhance community safety, and support job creation,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker. \u201cPriority Projects have left their mark throughout every region of the Commonwealth, and once these projects are completed, the river systems in these communities and the ecosystems they support will be stronger and better prepared for the effects of climate change.\u201d\n\n\u201cThese river restoration projects will greatly improve the ecology of several river systems within the Commonwealth by reviving fisheries populations and creating important wetlands for wildlife,\u201d said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. \u201cWe look forward to working with the communities of East Bridgewater, Falmouth, Plymouth, and Taunton to ensure these natural resources are protected and preserved for future generations to benefit from.\u201d\n\nThe bulk of the funds being awarded - $1,182,250 - are from federal grants awarded to DER under the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Funding Competitive Grant Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration\u2019s (NOAA) Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency and Coastal \u0026 Marine Habitat Restoration Grant Programs. The remaining $170,000 are grants from state capital funds, recently approved by the Baker-Polito Administration.\n\n\u201cSmart investments in restoration projects sustain jobs and produce $1.75 million in total economic output from each $1 million spent,\u201d said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton. \u201cThese jobs in the construction, engineering, and nursery industries produce a high economic rate of return and are a critically important component of the Bay State\u2019s growing economy.\u201d\u00a0\n\n\u201cTogether these projects open more than 60 miles in five river systems to fish passage and create or improve many wetland areas valuable to migratory fish and wildlife,\u201d said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner George N. Peterson, Jr. \u201cEliminating the threat of dam failure while restoring fish habitat is a win-win for our environment and the people who live in these areas.\u201d\n\n\u201cIf there is a silver lining to Hurricane Sandy, it is that the storm helped galvanize natural resource protection efforts around the issue of resilience,\u201d said Rick Bennett, regional scientist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and lead for the agency\u2019s Hurricane Sandy recovery and resilience program under the Department of the Interior. \u201cHealthy rivers are essential to the health and livelihood of every American. They support clean drinking water, fishing and recreation. We\u2019re excited to work with Massachusetts and states across the Northeast on river restoration efforts that will improve wildlife habitat and help communities better withstand flooding and future storms.\u201d \u00a0\n\n\u201cBy removing old dams that no longer provide services to local communities, we restore access to valuable upstream habitats for river herring, shad, and other sea-run fish. These fish are prey for popular recreational and commercial fish, such as striped bass and cod. We appreciate the Commonwealth\u0027s continued support of these projects,\u201d said John Bullard, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region.\n\nProjects receiving program funds include:\n\nLocation: Mill River Restoration, Taunton, MA\n\nAward: The Nature Conservancy, $622,250 (Federal Grant)\n\nProject summary: The Mill River Restoration Project brings together federal, state, and local agencies and NGOs with dam owners to remove three dams along the Mill River in Taunton and construct a fish ladder at a fourth dam. Two of the three dams have been removed, and the fish ladder has been constructed. West Britannia Dam is slated for removal in 2017. Removal of West Britannia Dam will open over 40 miles of river habitat. Federal funds for the project have been received for the project from the USFWS and NOAA Restoration Center. This grant will support the construction phase of the West Britannia Dam Removal Project.\n\n\u201cSupport like this is critical as the Commonwealth and local communities help lead the way nationally with use of nature-based approaches to reduce the impact on people from such things as coastal storm surge and inland flooding,\u201d said Alison Bowden, Director of Rivers, Coasts and Oceans for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.\n\nLocation: Cotley River Restoration Project, Taunton, MA\n\nAward: Taunton Development Corporation, $120,000 (Federal Grant)\n\nProject summary: The Cotley River Restoration Project is being led by the Non-profit Taunton Development Corporation with technical assistance from DER, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and NOAA Fisheries. Removal of this aging dam will open 8 miles of habitat for wildlife on this tributary to the federally-designated Wild and Scenic portion of the Taunton River. Federal funds for the project have been received for the project from the USFWS and NOAA Restoration Center. This grant will support construction.\n\n\u201cThe ecological restoration of Taunton\u2019s rivers will aid in returning miles of natural habitats throughout the community,\u201d said State Representative Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset). \u201cThrough these funding sources we are able to further enhance our \u2018wild and scenic\u2019 initiatives in the region.\u201d\n\nLocation: Lower Coonamessett River Restoration Project, Falmouth, MA\n\nAward: Town of Falmouth, $40,000 (State Grant)\n\nProject summary: The goal of the Lower Coonamessett River Restoration Project is to remove an aging dam and restore 11 acres of former cranberry bog to natural wetland habitat. The Town of Falmouth, which owns the property, has been leading the restoration effort together with numerous organizations and agencies. This grant will contribute to the cost of engineering, design, and construction.\n\n\u201cI\u2019m grateful to represent the most beautiful district in the Commonwealth, and we must do everything we can to preserve it,\u201d said State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth). \u201cThe lower Coonamessett River is an important ecological site and I applaud the Baker-Polito Administrations issuance of these critical funds to my hometown of Falmouth.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe Town of Falmouth is extremely gratified for the continued support of both State and Federal officials in the comprehensive restoration efforts underway in the Lower Coonamessett River watershed.\u00a0We are very fortunate to be working with a dedicated team of talented professionals who are collaborating in this complex restoration process.\u00a0We thank our colleagues in the Office of Energy and Environment and the Department of Fish and Game for their commitment to this critical environmental project,\u201d said Julian Suso, Falmouth Town Manager.\n\nLocation: The Satucket River Restoration Project, East Bridgewater, MA\n\nAward: The Nature Conservancy, $530,000 (Federal Grant)\n\nProject summary: The Satucket River Restoration Project brings together federal, state, and local agencies and NGOs with private dam owners to remove an aging dam on the Satucket River in East Bridgewater. The Carver Cotton Gin Dam is slated for removal in 2017. Removal of the dam will open over 13 miles of river habitat, restore access to 652 acres of river herring spawning habitat, and improve water quality. Federal funds for the project have been received for the project from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program and the NOAA Restoration Center. This grant will support construction.\n\n\u201cWater flow in our region has been a major issue affecting not only quantity and quality available for human consumption, but it also has an ecological and economic impact as well. Not only would a herring spawning area adjacent to the Cotton Gin dam benefit from the removal, but fish passage would also be restored to Robbins Pond and beyond. Efforts are already underway to revitalize and protect the herring population, which is an important component of our state\u0027s lobster industry,\u201d said State Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman). \u201cI am pleased that the Baker-Polito Administration has included this project as part of the scope of environmental improvements to our state\u0027s ecosystem, I am excited about the long-term positive impact the removal will have, and I am grateful for the funds that had heretofore\u00a0been unavailable to mitigate the free flow of the Satucket River.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe Town of East Bridgewater and the Board of Selectmen have been waiting many years for the cleanup\u00a0and renovation in the area and we applaud all the efforts by the Project Team\u00a0to\u00a0complete this project. Many\u00a0local residents continually express\u00a0their excitement\u00a0and\u00a0cannot wait for the river restoration work to begin,\u201d said\u00a0David Sheedy,\u00a0East Bridgewater Board of Selectmen.\u00a0\n\nLocation: Town Brook Restoration Project, Plymouth, MA\n\nAward: Town of Plymouth, $40,000 (State Grant)\n\nProject summary: The Town Brook Restoration Project is a multi-phase effort to address all aquatic species barriers, manage contaminated sediments, improve water quality, and address public safety risks on the historic brook in downtown Plymouth. The final phase of this 12-phase project is the removal of the town-owned Holmes Dam and replacement of the again Newfield Street bridge. This grant will support construction.\n\n\u201cI am grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued commitment to restoring our Commonwealth\u2019s waterways,\u201d said State Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). \u201cI am especially encouraged by these grants for the Lower Coonamesset River in Falmouth and Town Brook in Plymouth which will revitalize these unique natural features and be of great benefit to the Falmouth and Plymouth communities.\u201d\n\n\u201cPlymouth is excited to receive these funds for use with the largest dam removal proposed along Town Brook to date and to continue the restoration of its historic herring run,\u201d said David Gould, Plymouth Director of Marine and Environmental Affairs.\n\nThe mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) is to restore and protect the Commonwealth\u2019s rivers, wetlands, and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment.\u00a0\n\nThe Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth\u0027s 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\u0027s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.