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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1.6 Million for River and Wetland Restoration and Climate Adaptation

For immediate release:
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Department of Fish and Game
  • Division of Ecological Restoration

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1.6 Million for River and Wetland Restoration and Climate Adaptation

Katie Gronendyke

BOSTONIn recognition of Earth Week, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced $1.6 million in state and federal grant funds for ecological restoration projects in the towns of Brookfield, Chicopee, Dartmouth, Mattapoisett, Newbury, and Pittsfield to support river and wetland habitat restoration and climate adaptation. These projects are also now designated as Priority Projects through the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), making the projects eligible for technical services, including data collection, engineering, design work, permitting, project management and grants.

“Our Administration is pleased to support local dam removal and restoration projects that improve wildlife habitat and help communities better withstand flooding and future storms,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These nature-based approaches build community resilience to the effects of extreme weather and are a key part of our approach to preparing for climate change.”

“Once completed, these restoration projects will provide significant social, environmental and economic benefits to the Commonwealth and local communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Healthy and vibrant rivers and wetlands are important to the future viability of the Commonwealth’s environment as well as local economies and natural habitats.”

The five projects help local partners remove aging dams, restore salt marsh habitat, rejuvenate historic wetlands on retired cranberry bogs, revitalize an urban river, and replace an undersized and deteriorated culvert. Each project restores healthy habitat while also helping communities prevent storm damage, address aging infrastructure, and improve outdoor recreation. Currently, 56 ecological restoration projects throughout the state are designated as Priority Projects.  

“Massachusetts communities and residents continue to experience firsthand the impacts of increased flooding and sea level rise as the result of climate change,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “These grants help local and private partners take critical steps to protect and restore habitat and public safety.”

“The grants from DER support habitat restoration projects that benefit people and nature,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ronald Amidon.   “Dam removal, salt marsh restoration, and culvert replacement projects expand habitat for Eastern brook trout, coastal waterfowl, and many other fish and wildlife species. The projects also open up new opportunities for paddling, nature observation, and other kinds of outdoor recreation.”

The grants awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration include: 

Tel-electric Dam Removal and West Branch Housatonic River Revitalization, Pittsfield

Award: City of Pittsfield, $1,500,000

The grant supports the deconstruction of the obsolete 20-foot-high, 40-foot-wide Tel-electric Dam on the West Branch of the Housatonic River in downtown Pittsfield. The dam is in poor condition and contributes to the flood damage of close to 200 upstream properties and structures.  Removing the dam will reduce upstream flooding, restore river connectivity for fish and other wildlife, and improve water quality.  The project is linked to West Side neighborhood revitalization and greenway construction by the City of Pittsfield.

Abbey Brook Revitalization Project, Chicopee

Award: City of Chicopee, $25,000

This grant helps the City of Chicopee plan two dam removals and create public access to Abbey Brook in Szot Park.  Abbey Brook flows through an urbanized watershed from Springfield to its confluence with the Chicopee River. The City of Chicopee is exploring the removal of the two Bemis Pond dams located in Szot Park.  The dams are aging and have outlived their original purpose.  Removal of the dams will improve water quality in the brook, remove an ongoing maintenance burden carried by the City, and improve resilience to extreme storms.

Rice Corner Road Culvert Replacement, Brookfield

Award: Town of Brookfield, $5,000

This grant supports final design, permitting and construction bidding for a culvert replacement project in Brookfield. The culvert at Rice Corner Road in Brookfield is a severely degraded 113-foot-long, 5-foot diameter, corrugated metal pipe. Replacing the failing culvert will provide passage for resident brook trout and other aquatic species, and will improve Brookfield’s road network and resilience to floods.

Mattapoisett Bogs Restoration, Mattapoisett

Award: Buzzards Bay Coalition, $30,000

The grant supports the restoration of 220 acres of freshwater wetland habitat in Mattapoisett. The Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC) acquired this former cranberry farm and surrounding lands in 2011, and now manages the site for public access and open space.  Known as the Mattapoisett River Reserve, the site is regularly used by community members for walking, hiking, biking and fishing.  BBC aims to restore connectivity, diversify natural habitats including for rare species, and improve recreational and educational opportunities.  This grant, which will support the design process, will leverage over $1.6 million for construction that has already been secured from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as a MassTrails grant secured for future recreation improvements.    

Cow Yards Salt Marsh Restoration Project

Award: Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, $15,000

This grant supports engineering and design for the Cow Yards Salt Marsh Restoration Project, located off an unnamed tributary of the Little River in Dartmouth.  Restoration of this coastal wetland will reduce both impounding and poor drainage conditions that have impaired the growth of native Spartina grasses and facilitated the loss of marsh habitat.  This grant will complement $55,000 in Buzzards Bay Watershed Municipal Mini-grant funding and Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust matching funds.

Great Marsh Restoration Project

Award: Trustees of Reservations, $30,000

This grant will help the Trustees of Reservations pilot new restoration techniques to increase the Great Marsh’s resilience to climate change and sea level rise.  As part of the pilot restoration project, DER will assist the Trustees with review and development of monitoring protocols and baseline data collection.  Grant funds will support establishment of long-term monitoring stations necessary to evaluate these innovative restoration techniques that target the legacy impacts of historic salt marsh ditching.


Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1.6 Million for River and Wetland Restoration and Climate Adaptation

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

EEA seeks to protect, preserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s environmental resources while ensuring a clean energy future for the state’s residents. Through the stewardship of open space, protection of environmental resources, and enhancement of clean energy, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs works tirelessly to make Massachusetts a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.

Department of Fish and Game 

The Department of Fish and Game works to preserve the state's natural resources. We exercise responsibility over the Commonwealth's marine and freshwater fisheries, wildlife species, plants, and natural communities, as well as the habitats that support them.

Division of Ecological Restoration 

DER restores and protects rivers, wetlands, and watersheds in Massachusetts for the benefit of people and the environment.