The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a $700,000 state grant to advance the Herring River Estuary restoration in Wellfleet and Truro, one of the largest ecological restoration projects in the Northeast. This grant leverages a total of $985,034 in funding for the project in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center.\n\n\u201cOur administration is committed to continuing our support for restoring and protecting Cape Cod\u2019s natural environment, a critical factor for the region\u2019s economy and quality of life,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker.\u00a0 \u201cRestoration projects like the Herring River Estuary are an important component of our strategy to increase Massachusetts\u2019 resilience to the effects of climate change.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe Herring River Estuary restoration involves an impressive, long-term partnership of state and federal agencies, the towns of Wellfleet and Truro, the Friends of Herring River, and many others,\u201d said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. \u201cWe look forward to working together to restore the Herring River and its extensive coastal wetlands to benefit both native wildlife and the people of Cape Cod.\u201d\u00a0\n\nSpanning over 1,000 acres across the Cape Cod National Seashore and the towns of Wellfleet and Truro, the Herring River Estuary hosts one of the largest river and wetland systems on Cape Cod.\u00a0 In 1909, a dike was built across the river\u2019s mouth, severing its connection to Wellfleet Harbor and the life-giving tides of the Atlantic Ocean.\u00a0 Without that connection, the salt marshes decayed, the river turned acidic, shellfish beds were contaminated by bacteria, and multiple fish kills resulted from low dissolved oxygen.\u00a0 The loss of tidal flow transformed this once thriving and productive coastal ecosystem into the highly degraded landscape found there today.\n\n\u201cThe Herring River restoration effort will improve water quality, boost recreation and tourism, and help sustain commercial and recreational fisheries,\u201d said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cThe recent monetary allotment, along with NOAA\u2019s generous funding, is needed to complete the engineering design and permitting phases of this important project.\u201d\n\nThe communities of Wellfleet and Truro are working with the National Park Service, the Department of Fish and Game\u2019s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) and many other partners to revive the health of the Herring River and its wetlands.\u00a0 The project will rebuild the main dike at the river\u2019s mouth and make other improvements across the estuary, allowing carefully controlled restoration of tidal flow to the ecosystem while protecting low-lying roads and other structures from flooding.\u00a0 Reconnecting the estuary to the ocean will improve water quality, increase habitat productivity for fisheries and other wildlife, restore large areas of shellfish beds, and enhance boating, fishing, and other commercial and recreational opportunities.\n\n\u201cWe look forward to the day when a restored Herring River estuary provides much-improved habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, river herring, white perch, and other fish and wildlife,\u201d said Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Ron Amidon. \u201cThe project will also greatly enhance people\u2019s access to the natural environment by improving opportunities for shellfish harvest, fishing, boating, and other outdoor recreation.\u201d\u00a0\n\nThe $700,000 grant from DER will support engineering design and permitting to prepare the project for construction.\u00a0The project is being managed by Friends of Herring River, a nonprofit organization based in Wellfleet.\n\n\u201cThe Herring River project exemplifies the strong working relationship between MA DER and NOAA, and our joint commitment to restoring Massachusetts\u2019 coastal habitat.\u00a0 By reconnecting the estuary to the ocean, we restore access to valuable habitats for sea-run fish like river herring, as well as for the popular recreational and commercial fish that feed on them.\u00a0 We appreciate the Commonwealth\u0027s continued support on these projects,\u201d said John Bullard, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region.\n\n\u201cThe Herring River Salt Marsh was once one of the most vibrant ecosystems in the southeastern corner of the Commonwealth. Completion of this restoration project will significantly reverse the harm caused to the estuary over the past 100 years and support the revitalization of the river\u2019s natural tidal flows,\u201d said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). I am encouraged by the shared commitment to support this project, and am confident that Friends of the Herring River will continue to be responsible stewards of the restoration, creating numerous benefits for residents, visitors, aquaculture, and the environment.\u201d\n\n\u201cI am a strong supporter of the project as I feel it takes necessary steps to restore the health of the area by improving not only water quality, but also protecting and improving the native wildlife that depends on these resources,\u201d said State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown). \u201cIn addition, I believe that ultimately the surrounding community will significantly benefit from these improvements to the ecosystem, on which we so heavily rely for recreation, aquaculture, and a viable fishing industry.\u201d\n\nThe mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration is to restore and protect the Commonwealth\u2019s rivers, wetlands and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment.\n\nThe Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth\u0027s natural resources.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 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.