Press Release

Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Awards Grants to 25 Ecological Restoration Projects and Partnerships

For immediate release:
12/20/2021
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Department of Fish and Game
  • Division of Ecological Restoration

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards Grants to 25 Ecological Restoration Projects and Partnerships

Craig Gilvarg, Director of Communications

BOSTONSeeking to strengthen community preparedness for large storms, improve climate-ready infrastructure, protect fisheries, wildlife, and river habitats, and restore floodplain habitat and flood storage capabilities, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) has awarded a total of nearly $1 million in grants through three programs. DER awarded $180,472 in state funds to support three partnerships through its new Regional Restoration Partnerships Program, $708,500 in state grant funds to nine Priority Ecological Restoration Projects, and $82,000 to a project that is part of DER’s Culvert Replacement Training Initiative, which provides direct technical assistance and funding to municipalities to advance the replacement of select municipally owned culverts at strategic locations throughout Massachusetts to provide convenient, centralized learning locations for local road managers.

“As the impacts associated with climate change are felt throughout the Commonwealth, our Administration continues to support projects in communities across the state that increase Massachusetts’ climate resilience,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This ecological restoration work directly aligns with our goals, which will have long lasting benefits within the many regions of the state.”

Ecological restoration not only helps communities respond to climate change, but also benefits the environment, wildlife and the people of Massachusetts, who can continue to enjoy and experience our outdoor spaces,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We’re proud to support this work and will continue to work with cities and towns in all corners of the Commonwealth.

DER’s new Regional Restoration Partnerships Program seeks to build capacity of local and regional organizations to collaboratively advance restoration work, increasing the pace and scale of ecological restoration throughout the Commonwealth. Additionally, DER Priority Ecological Restoration Projects aid local partners in removing aging dams, replacing deteriorated culverts, rejuvenating historic wetlands, and restoring floodplain habitat and flood storage. Furthermore, DER has also designated 12 new river and wetland restoration projects as Priority Projects through the Priority Projects Program. These new projects will deliver significant ecological, climate resiliency, and economic benefits to communities across the Commonwealth.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to support these projects that will deliver significant ecological and environmental benefits to communities across the Commonwealth and support strong and healthy partnerships among municipalities, local watershed groups, and other environmental organizations,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Partnerships are the cornerstone of our restoration efforts, and these projects will advance critical local priorities such as habitat restoration, culvert replacement, and flood mitigation through the climate-ready infrastructure.”

“The benefits of ecological restoration are unquestionable and it has been a privilege to watch the state’s restoration work grow and expand,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ronald Amidon. “I look forward to seeing all that’s to come from these projects and partnerships.”

DER’s new Regional Restoration Partnerships Program helps non-profit organizations and Regional Planning Agencies increase their capacity to lead and support ecological restoration within their regions through direct financial and technical assistance. Pairing partner strengths with the state's investments will empower networks of partners to restore rivers and wetlands and help people and nature adapt to climate change. The successful partnerships are supported for at least three years through the program as they plan and carry out ecological restoration actions. The awards announced today will support the first year of this work. The following three Partnerships were awarded grants through the Regional Restoration Partnerships Program via DER’s Capital Budget:

Berkshire Clean, Cold, Connected Restoration Partnership

Award: Housatonic Valley Association; $59,085

This award will support a network of organizations, agencies, and communities working for healthy aquatic systems in the Hoosic, Housatonic, and Farmington River watersheds. The partnership will build local and regional capacity for planning and implementing restoration projects that restore degraded aquatic ecosystems and increase climate change resiliency, such as habitat connectivity projects and stream corridor restoration projects. This year’s funds will be used to assess and prioritize critical ecological restoration opportunities, such as road-stream crossing replacements, and to support partners contributing to planning efforts.

Buzzard’s Bay Watershed Restoration Partnership

Award: Buzzard’s Bay Coalition; $59,834

This award will support a network of towns, local land trusts, and private landowners throughout the Buzzard’s Bay region working to implement strategic ecological restoration and land conservation projects. The partnership will build local and regional capacity for restoration and will pursue high priority projects such as river and stream barrier removal, salt marsh restoration, and wetland restoration on retiring cranberry farms. This year’s funds will be used to evaluate restoration needs and opportunities, address information gaps, and develop a project prioritization model that weighs elements such as ecological benefit, climate resilience benefit, financial feasibility, and social readiness and other cultural benefits.

Merrimack Restoration Partnership

Award: Merrimack River Watershed Council; $61,553

This award will support a diverse network of partners and stakeholders to develop a strategic restoration vision at the watershed scale, implement high-visibility projects, fill a climate-resilience education gap, and increase connections between agencies, community leaders, landowners, and practitioners. The partnership will support river and stream barrier removal projects, in-stream habitat enhancement/restoration and climate resilience activities, and riparian restoration and floodplain connectivity work in the Merrimack River watershed. This year’s funds will be used to develop restoration planning and feasibility studies, public education and communication tool development, and to support partners working on implementation activities. 

The Priority Projects Program is one of the vehicles by which DER pursues restoration projects that present the greatest benefit to the Commonwealth ecologically, socially, and economically. The 10 established Priority Projects that are receiving funding today include wetland restoration, dam removal, floodplain reconnection, culvert replacement, and cranberry bog restoration projects which restore healthy habitat while also helping communities prevent storm damage, address aging infrastructure, and improve outdoor recreation. Once completed, these Priority Projects will provide significant social, environmental, and economic benefits to the Commonwealth and local communities. The following nine projects were awarded funds through DER’s Priority Projects Program via DER’s Capital Budget:

Abbey Brook Restoration & Revitalization/Bemis Pond Dam Removals, Chicopee

Award: City of Chicopee; $100,000

This award will support the design and permitting for the Abbey Brook Restoration and Revitalization Project, which includes the removal of two dams, replacement of an undersized road-stream crossing, and daylighting a culverted reach of stream along Abbey Brook in Chicopee. DER and the City of Chicopee are partnering with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission on this effort, which will eliminate the risk to public safety posed by the aging dams, reduce flood risk, restore natural river processes, improve water quality, and enhance recreational opportunities. 

Broad Meadow Brook Restoration, Worcester

Award: Massachusetts Audubon Society; $30,000

This award will support hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) modeling and development of restoration design options for restoration of the Broad Meadow Brook wetland and stream system in southeast Worcester. Mass Audubon, the City of Worcester, and DER are partnering to restore hydrologic connection within a degraded wetland, restore floodplain connection of the stream and its riparian corridor, reduce flooding risk to the adjacent neighborhoods, improve habitat and water quality, and enhance visitor experience of recreational trails within this vital urban open space.

Ipswich River Restoration/Ipswich Mills Dam Removal, Ipswich

Award: Ipswich River Watershed Association; $45,000

This award will support subsurface investigations to facilitate dam removal design advancement for the removal of the Ipswich Mills Dam, a head-of-tide dam on the Ipswich River. Its removal will provide access to spawning habitat for a range of fish species. Additional partners on this project include the Town of Ipswich, the Division of Marine Fisheries, the NOAA Restoration Center, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Manhan River Restoration/Lyman Pond Dam Removal, Southampton

Award: private dam owner; $150,000

This award will support the removal of the Lyman Pond Dam as part of the Manhan River Restoration Project. DER is partnering with the private dam owner, American Rivers, Mass Audubon, the Nature Conservancy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service on this effort. This project will eliminate the threat of dam failure and will reconnect 27 miles of high quality coldwater habitat in the Manhan River for fish and wildlife.

Mattapoisett Bogs Restoration, Mattapoisett

Award: Buzzards Bay Coalition; $50,000

This award will support design and permitting for the Mattapoisett Bogs Restoration project, which will restore 57 acres of retired cranberry farmland to a naturalized, self-sustaining wetland system. DER and Buzzards Bay Coalition are partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service on this effort. This project will restore connectivity to Tripps Mill Brook, improve habitat for fish and wildlife, rejuvenate wetlands, re-naturalize water flow through the site, and improve public access.

Mill Brook Headwaters Restoration, Chilmark

Award: Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, Inc.; $33,500

This award will support the replacement of a culvert as part of the Mill Brook Headwaters Restoration project. The goals of this project are to implement one of the first culvert replacement projects on Martha’s Vineyard to restore ecological functions including fish and wildlife passage and to provide reliable access across Mill Brook.

Town River Restoration/High Street Dam Removal, Bridgewater

Award: Town of Bridgewater; $150,000

This award will support the removal of the of the High Street Dam, replacement of the aging High Street Bridge over Town River, and protection and enhancement of surrounding infrastructure and public utilities as part of the Town River Restoration project. The Town and DER are partnering with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the Nature Conservancy, the private dam owner, the NOAA Restoration Center, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service on this effort. The project will improve fish access to historic spawning and rearing habitat, reduce area flood risk, eliminate the threat to public safety posed by sudden failure of the dam, and improve public access to the river.

Traphole Brook Dam Removal, Norwood

Award: Town of Norwood; $100,000

This award will support the removal of the Mill Pond Dam on Traphole Brook and will work to restore Traphole Brook through the former impoundment. Traphole Brook is a Coldwater Fishery Resource that is home to one of the few remaining wild Eastern brook trout populations in the greater Boston area. This work will also increase the storm resiliency of an important town road at the head of the impoundment.

Ware River Restoration/Wheelwright Pond Dam Removal, Hardwick

Award: Wheelwright Water District Commission; $50,000

This award will support pre-removal groundwater monitoring as part of the Ware River Restoration Project, which includes the removal of the Wheelwright Pond Dam. Partners include the private dam owner, the East Quabbin Land Trust, and the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. The project will open 41 upstream river miles, improve habitat for Eastern brook trout and other state-listed species, and restore natural river processes.

In addition to these newly funded Priority Projects, a further $82,000 in state capital funds was awarded for the following Culvert Replacement Training Site:

East Rindge Road Culvert Replacement Training Site, Ashburnham

Award: Town of Ashburnham; $82,000

This award will support design, engineering, and permitting-related tasks for a culvert replacement on Bluefield Brook in preparation for replacement. Upgrading this culvert will mitigate flooding, increase community resilience and improve aquatic connectivity. The site has been identified as a top 5% culvert for replacement by the Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool. This project will also provide training opportunities to the region as part of DER’s Culvert Training Initiative and is expected to inform future culvert replacements in the watershed.

Through the Priority Projects Program, DER selects projects that advance the mission to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands, and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment. Projects are selected through a competitive process for Priority Project designation. Today, the Administration announces the designation of 12 projects to Priority Project status, which will make them eligible to receive technical assistance from DER staff, technical services by qualified contractors, and/or direct funding. These projects will restore retired cranberry bogs and wetlands, remove dams, and replace culverts. Of the 12 new projects, three will receive “provisional” status in order to determine their long-term readiness for implementation. Including these new designations, more than 65 active ecological restoration projects throughout the state are currently designated as Priority Projects. To review a list of projects, please visit the Department of Fish & Game’s DER Priority Projects Map webpage. The newly designated Priority Projects include:

Bayview Cranberry Bog Restoration, Yarmouth

Partner: Cape Cod Conservation District

This project will construct a wetland and stream restoration project that enhances coastal resilience, habitat, water quality, and public open space at Bayview Bogs, an approximately 90-acre parcel with almost 50 acres of uplands and 44 acres of wetlands, including 18 acres of former cranberry bogs.

Church Manufacturing Co. Dam Removal/Chicopee Brook Restoration, Monson

Partner: private dam owner

This project will remove a dam on Chicopee Brook. The removal will reconnect a segment of Chicopee Brook, remove unneeded infrastructure, eliminate the potential risk to public safety associated with a dam failure, and get rid of any future repair, maintenance, and dam operation liabilities.

Frost Fish Creek Restoration, Chatham

Partner: Chatham Conservation Foundation

This project will enhance ecosystem services and benefits within the Frost Fish Creek estuary by restoring natural tidal exchange and stream flow to extensive estuarine habitats and freshwater wetlands.

Larkin Road Dam Removal/Parker River Restoration, Newbury

Partner: Town of Newbury

This project will remove the Larkin Road Dam and associated structures to restore fish passage through the formerly impounded reach. It will also restore water quality, aquatic habitat connectivity, and natural riverine sediment regimes.

Long Pond Brook Restoration and Dam Removals, Great Barrington

Partner: Bard College at Simon’s Rock

This project will restore a portion of Long Pond Brook by reestablishing connectivity to Seekonk Brook and Green River, extending coldwater habitat and improving movement of aquatic organisms up into Long Pond Brook.

Ryder’s Cove Restoration, Chatham

Partner: Massachusetts Department of Transportation

This project will restore salt marsh, increase tidal flow, and restore significant estuarine habitat in the Frost Fish Creek watershed for the natural reproduction and benefit of several public trust species including river herring, American shad, striped bass, and rainbow smelt.

Talbot Mills Dam Removal/Concord River Restoration, Billerica

Partner: OARS

This project will remove the Talbot Mills Dam, restore diadromous fish passage in the Concord River, improve riverine ecological health, enhance river-based recreation, eliminate a public safety hazard, and increase climate change resiliency by reducing upstream flooding.

Upper Bass River Restoration, Yarmouth/Dennis

Partner: Friends of Bass River

This project will replace an undersized culvert that restricts tidal flow in the upper portion of the Bass River, replace a crushed and undersized culvert that inhibits fish passage, and implement wetland and stream restoration in approximately 57 acres of abandoned cranberry farmland to restore habitat, improve water quality, increase public access to Town-owned land, and promote recreational use.

Whitney Pond Dam Removal, Ashburnham

Partner: Town of Ashburnham

This project will remove a hazardous dam, eliminating a liability for the town, reestablishing the hydrologic connectivity of the upper Whitman River Watershed, restoring the natural flow and temperature regimes, and providing unimpeded nutrient transport and fish and wildlife passage between upstream and downstream wetlands.

DER’s recommended “Provisional” Priority Projects include:

  • Malden Brook Restoration/Edwards Pond Dam Removal, West Boylston, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Marstons Mills Cranberry Bog Restoration, Marstons Mills, Barnstable, in partnership with Barnstable Clean Water Coalition
  • Old Swamp River Dam Removal, Weymouth, in partnership with the Town of Weymouth

“The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to support these efforts to restore and protect our waterways for the benefit of both people and the environment,” said DER Director Beth Lambert. “Investment in this work is critical and we look forward to seeing increased climate resilience, improved habitat, and all the other benefits to come.”

“I am very pleased the Town of Bridgewater has been selected to receive $150,000 to support the Town River Restoration project,” said Dean of the Massachusetts Senate Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). “By removing the High Street Dam and replacing the aging High Street Bridge, this initiative will improve local infrastructure, protect the freshwater ecosystem, reduce flood risk, ensure public safety, and provide better public access to the river. Thanks and congratulations to all those who contributed to this successful grant proposal on behalf of the Town of Bridgewater.”

“I am happy that Bridgewater was chosen to receive these funds for this important project,” said Representative Angelo D’Emilia (R-Bridgewater). “This funding will help update our adjacent infrastructure. Thank you to the administration.”

“I am thrilled to hear the announcement of the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game priority project grant from the Division of Ecological Restoration for the Ipswich River Restoration/Ipswich Mills Dam Removal,” said Representative Jamie Zahlaway Belsito (D-Topsfield). “This project is essential for the future health and wellness of our district’s most treasured water resource, the Ipswich River.  The $45,000 grant will allow continued work with the Ipswich River Watershed Association, the Town of Ipswich, the Division of Marine Fisheries, the NOAA Restoration Center, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to obtain the remaining necessary information on structural and technical issues on dam removal design, for us to achieve a healthy and sustainable Ipswich River.”

The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) 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.

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Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards Grants to 25 Ecological Restoration Projects and Partnerships

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.
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