Press Release

Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Awards $630,000 to River Restoration Projects

Includes major grant to help revive Cape Cod’s largest degraded coastal wetland
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 $630,000 to River Restoration Projects

Katie Gronendyke,

Boston — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced two grants totaling $630,000 for river and wetland restoration projects that leverage $798,000 in federal funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A $600,000 grant to the Friends of Herring River will advance the Herring River Estuary Restoration in Wellfleet and Truro, while a $30,000 grant to the Cardinal Cushing Centers will help fund a dam removal and continued restoration of Third Herring Brook in Norwell. 

“We are pleased to support the green economy while improving the Commonwealth's natural resources through these grants,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Restoring river and wetlands will positively impact fisheries and wildlife, in addition to improving opportunities for people who enjoy fishing, boating, and other forms of outdoor recreation.”

“Leveraging significant federal funds is critical to make the state investment really pay off for these restoration efforts,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We appreciate the funding from NOAA and the strong partnership with the municipalities and non-profits that make these projects possible.”

A recently completed economic study found that investments in project construction will generate an estimated $82 million in economic output and create or sustain 960 jobs.  Restored ecosystem services that support fishing and shellfishing, recreational activities, property values, tourism, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are expected to provide significant, long-term economic benefits to the region

“The Herring River Restoration on outer Cape Cod is one of the largest and most ambitious ecological restoration projects on the North Atlantic coast,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The restoration of Third Herring Brook is critical to river herring and other resident fish and will improve wildlife habitat on more than eight miles of the stream.”

“River and wetland restoration provide multiple benefits to native fish, especially diadromous fish such as herring and eels, and other wildlife,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner George Peterson. “In turn, these restored habitats provide recreational benefits and the fisheries improve conditions for both recreational and commercial fishing.”

Encompassing over 1,000 acres of wetlands and six miles of waterways, the Herring River estuary once supported a vibrant, regionally-important coastal ecosystem and hosted one of the most important fish runs on outer Cape Cod.  Over the past decade, the towns of Wellfleet and Truro have worked with numerous partners on plans that will allow carefully controlled restoration of tidal flow to the estuary while protecting low-lying roads and other structures from flooding. Reconnecting the estuary to Cape Cod Bay will improve water quality, restore large areas of shellfish habitat, reduce impacts from major storm events, and increase boating, fishing, and other commercial and recreational opportunities.

The $600,000 grant from the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) will support engineering design for multiple infrastructure elements and will advance other technical tasks including preparation of permit applications. This grant will be matched by another $700,000 from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center.  The project is being managed by Friends of Herring River, a non-profit organization based in Wellfleet.

“This very significant grant will help to continue and move this regionally important project forward. From the beginning, the Herring River Restoration Project has represented the best in partnerships between local, state, and federal agencies,” said State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown). “I remember being present at the bridge over the mouth of the river when Senator Kennedy kicked off this project in the fall of 2006. Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration for your continuing support.”

“The $30,000 grant to the Cardinal Cushing Centers will be so helpful in continuing the restoration and conservation efforts for Third Herring Brook Restoration Project,” said State Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “The restoration and dam removal on the Third Herring Brook will benefit the area ecosystem and improve the herring and local fish habitats.” 

“Herring River Estuary Restoration in Wellfleet and Truro is one of the largest and most ambitious coastal habitat restoration projects in New England,” said State Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich). “I applaud the efforts of the Division of Fish and Game, with strong support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in their work to restore a beautiful salt marsh and wetlands.”

“I’m thankful to the Baker-Polito Administration for this grant. Over the last several years, the dam in the Third Herring Brook has fallen into disrepair and has become a financial burden. The collaboration between public and non-profit stakeholders will greatly improve the overall conditions in the Third Herring Brook,” said State Representative David F. DeCoste (R-Norwell). “Without this grant, that collaboration wouldn’t be possible. The funds provided in this grant are most welcome and demonstrates the Administration’s continued commitment to improving our communities and preserving our environment.”

The restoration of Third Herring Brook involves the removal of three dams. In 2014, the first dam was removed in a partnership between DER, the South Shore YMCA, and the North and South Rivers Watershed Association. Building on that success, the removal of the Tack Factory Dam will improve fish and wildlife habitat along 8.4 miles of stream. The dam is in poor condition and is a financial burden on the non-profit owner, the Cardinal Cushing Centers. Funds will go towards dam de-construction.

Supporting the Cardinal Cushing Centers and DER in this effort are the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, NOAA Fisheries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The dam removal will benefit a critical local non-profit organization and is complementary to the other barrier removal and flow management efforts being undertaken in the watershed by state and local partners. The USFWS has granted $50,000 to the restoration of Third Herring Brook and NOAA is supporting the project with a $98,000 grant.

“These projects will support coastal resilience by restoring coastal habitat and increasing river herring access to spawning habitat. River herring provides food for commercially and recreationally important species, such as bluefish and striped bass,” said John Bullard, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. “The recommended projects build on years of NOAA support—through both funding and technical assistance—for coastal habitat and river restoration in Massachusetts.”

The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration is to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment.

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.


Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $630,000 to River Restoration Projects

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 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 & Game works to preserve the state's natural resources and exercises 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.