The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $210,924 in federal grant funding to help towns in the Buzzards Bay watershed protect important habitat and drinking water resources and provide passage for migratory fish species. The grants are being matched by $114,447 in municipal and private contributions and will focus on permanently protecting or restoring habitat, as well as promoting passive recreation.\n\n\u201cThese forward-thinking local projects will ensure the Commonwealth\u2019s native species are being preserved and our drinking water resources are protected,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker. \u201cWith this round of grants, our administration continues to focus on assisting Massachusetts land protection and conservation projects like these in Buzzards Bay.\u201d\n\n\u201cOur administration is dedicated to supporting local efforts to conserve natural resources and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities,\u201d said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. \u201cThis partnership and funding allows us to provide necessary support for our communities to advance effective local actions that protect important habitats and improve the water quality of Buzzards Bay.\u201d\n\n\u201cThese grant recipients are doing important work\u00a0 within communities to protect open space and drinking water supplies, while also restoring natural resources of the Commonwealth,\u201d said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cThese natural landscapes and hiking trails improve quality of life, increase tourism and leave a legacy for the next generation.\u201d\n\nThe grants are being awarded by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program through the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) with funding from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).\n\n\u201cCZM\u2019s National Estuary Programs actively work with communities on projects that have significant long-term benefits for our coast,\u201d said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. \u201cThis federal, state and local partnership helps ensure that these on-the-ground efforts continue to make a real difference.\u201d\n\n\u201cI\u2019d like to thank the communities for their hard work and our state and federal partners for their support,\u201d said Joe Costa, Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program. \u201cThanks to generous Congressional appropriations, we have been able to award millions in dollars in water quality restoration and habitat protection grants to Buzzards Bay communities over the past several years.\u201d\n\nThe following seven grants were awarded to six towns:\n\nThe Town of Acushnet will receive $35,000 to work with its partner, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, to protect a 9-acre property along the Acushnet River. The property contains field, forest and forested wetlands and is designated habitat for rare species. Protection of this property will advance the town\u2019s long-term vision of a \u201cgreenbelt,\u201d a corridor of connected conservation and recreation land along the Acushnet River.\n\nThe Town of Fairhaven will receive $35,000 to work with its partner, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, to protect 61.5 acres of land in East Fairhaven that is part of a larger conservation effort. The property is designated as habitat for rare species and contains significant salt marsh, forested freshwater wetlands and frontage on a perennial stream.\n\nThe Town of Marion will receive $10,924 to remove an obstruction to fish passage on Borden Brook, which runs through Grassi Bog. Borden Brook is an existing American eel run and has the potential to support other fish species, including alewife. The town will remove an existing culvert and replace it with a larger culvert that will mimic natural stream channel conditions and provide unimpeded fish passage.\n\nThe Towns of Mattapoisett and Rochester will receive $35,000 each to work with their partner, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, to protect 164-acres of land straddling the Rochester-Mattapoisett town boundary. The properties lie within a drinking water recharge area, are designated as habitat for rare species, contain extensive wetlands, have frontage on Branch Brook and abut existing protected lands owned by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game and the Mattapoisett Water Department.\n\nThe Town of Rochester will receive $25,000 to work with its partner, the Rochester Land Trust, to purchase and permanently protect an 18.27-acre property along the Mattapoisett River. The property is designated habitat for rare species, contains extensive wetlands, has frontage on the Mattapoisett River and abuts existing protected lands.\n\nThe Town of Wareham will receive $35,000 to work with its partners, the Buzzards Bay Coalition and Wareham Land Trust, to protect 8 acres of land along the Weweantic River. The town proposes to use this land for natural resource protection and for trail-based recreation connecting to the existing adjacent trail system along the river, immediately downstream at the Westgate Conservation Area and Fearing Hill Conservation Area.\n\n\u201cI greatly appreciate the continuing commitment of the towns and communities around Buzzards Bay to protect and restore important habitat,\u201d said\u00a0Congressman Bill Keating. \u201cThis grant program illustrates the critical value of federal funds in leveraging state, local and private resources, and why the 28 National Estuary Programs continue to garner strong national support. From wildlife conservation to habitat preservation, these projects will serve the members of our community for years to come. \u00a0As a strong proponent of the NEP and habitat restoration and protection funding, I am proud to see these resources utilized here in our backyard.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe natural resources of our state are precious and must be protected,\u201d said State Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). \u201cOur communities deserve thriving, accessible conservation areas, and these awards will help secure healthy wildlife habitats and recreation spaces. Land protection along the Weweantic River is of vital importance, and these connecting trails will allow our residents and visitors to more fully enjoy the outdoors. I commend the Buzzards Bay Coalition, the Wareham Land Trust and Wareham officials for their hard work in securing this award, and I look forward to seeing the good it will do for Southeastern Massachusetts.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe town of Wareham and the Wareham Land Trust have long\u00a0recognized the importance of not only preserving our great natural resources such as the Weweantic River corridor but also making the land available for recreational use,\u201d said State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham).\u00a0 \u201cThis\u00a0federal grant award again shows the commitment of the Baker-Polito Administration to assist our towns\u00a0with\u00a0restoration and\u00a0conservation efforts.\u201d\n\n\u201cI have a strong and continued interest in protecting the watershed and the water quality of Buzzards Bay,\u201d said State Representative William M. Straus (D-Mattapoisett).\u00a0\u201cI am pleased that this funding will go towards preserving and maintaining the quality of this important natural resource and promote conservation measures throughout the region.\u201d\n\n\u201cBuzzards Bay is an integral piece of our landscape here on the South Coast,\u201d said State Representative Paul Schmid (D-Westport). \u201cThe local leadership of the awarded communities will provide the framework for habitat and drinking water resource conservation around the Commonwealth. I sincerely thank the Baker-Polito Administration and our federal partners for their advocacy in preserving our natural resources.\u201d\n\nThe Office of Coastal Zone Management is EEA\u2019s lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues. Created in 1985, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program provides grants and technical assistance to South Coast and Cape Cod communities to protect and restore water quality and natural resources in Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed and is one of 28 similar programs designated by the EPA.