The Baker-Polito Administration today announced 11 new river and wetland restoration projects will be designated Priority Projects through the Department of Fish and Game\u2019s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). Priority Projects, which are eligible to receive grants, project management and contracted technical services funded by DER, deliver significant ecological and community benefits to the Commonwealth.\n\n\u201cOur administration remains committed to working with our federal, municipal, and private partners to restore rivers, wetlands, and the valuable natural resources in systems throughout the Commonwealth,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker. \u201cThe revitalization of the state\u2019s rivers and the protection of floodplains demonstrates Massachusetts\u2019 dedication to preserving our natural ecosystems for wildlife and safeguarding local businesses who are reliant on a healthy environment.\u201d\n\n\u201cIn addition to enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, these projects will create jobs and boost economic activity within local communities across the state,\u201d said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. \u201cImportantly, by prioritizing and investing in these projects, considerable resources will be leveraged, ultimately making them more valuable, successful, and cost effective for the public to enjoy and benefit from.\u201d\n\nThe 11 new Priority Projects, six of which will receive \u201cprovisional\u201d status in order to determine their long-term readiness for implementation, include dam removals, culvert replacements, urban river revitalization efforts, floodplain enhancement and streamflow restoration. Once completed, the projects will provide significant social, environmental and economic benefits to the Commonwealth and local communities. More than 60 active ecological restoration projects throughout the state are currently designated as Priority Projects. To review a full list of projects, please visit the Department of Fish \u0026 Game\u2019s DER Priority Projects Map webpage.\n\n\u201cGiven the stress that our rivers and wetlands continue to face due to the extended drought in Massachusetts, these restoration efforts could not come at a better time,\u201d said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cDam removal and culvert replacement are some examples of the important projects that have been prioritized to safeguard human health and safety by protecting buildings, roads, and other infrastructure.\u201d\n\n\u201cEcological restoration projects benefit a range of wildlife species, particularly cold water fish such as eastern brook trout and migratory fish such as river herring, shad, and smelt,\u201d said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner George N. Peterson, Jr. \u201cWe are pleased to support restoration of these critical habitats in cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth.\u201d\n\nThe five new Priority Projects include:\n\nProject: Ipswich River Flow RestorationApplying Organization: Multiple municipalities in partnership with The Ipswich River Watershed AssociationProject Description: The Ipswich River has been especially stressed by current drought conditions. This project will pilot innovative, non-regulatory water conservation strategies with the goal of reducing non-essential outdoor water use and improving streamflow.\n\nProject: Elm Street Dam RemovalApplying Organization: Kingston in partnership with the Jones River Watershed AssociationProject Description: The Jones River is an important migratory fish run with coldwater habitat in some of its tributaries. The dam removal project will eliminate a liability for the community and restore connectivity to over 24 miles of river habitat.\u00a0\n\nProject: Lyman Mill Dam RemovalApplying Organization: Southampton in partnership with a private ownerProject Description: Removal of the Lyman Mill Dam will eliminate a significant hazard dam and restore connectivity to 27 miles of river habitat along the Manhan River.\n\nProject: Arcadia Sanctuary Floodplain RestorationApplying Organization: Easthampton in partnership with Mass AudubonProject Description: The restoration project will improve biodiversity and other floodplain wetland functions along the Mill River, a tributary to the Connecticut River.\u00a0\n\nProject: Pamet River RestorationApplying Organization: Truro in partnership with the Town of TruroProject Description: The Pamet River restoration will connect tidal habitat along the river and its tributaries to improve salt marsh condition and strengthen coastal resiliency.\u00a0\n\nThe six new \u201cProvisional\u201d Priority Projects include:\n\nProject: High Street Dam RemovalApplying Organization: Bridgewater in partnership with The Nature ConservancyProject Description: The High Street Dam removal would reconnect over 10 miles of riverine habitat upstream of the dam and benefit a range of wildlife species.\u00a0\n\nProject: Kitchen Brook Dam RemovalApplying Organization: Town of CheshireProject Description: Removal of the Kitchen Brook Dam would benefit coldwater species and complements the recent removal of the adjacent Thunder Brook Dam.\n\nProject: Sawmill Brook Restoration:Applying Organization: Town of ManchesterProject Description: DER would assist the Town of Manchester with studies to evaluate infrastructure problems on Sawmill Brook to reduce flooding and improve habitat.\u00a0\n\nProject: Watertown DamApplying Organization: Watertown in partnership with The Charles River Watershed AssociationProject Description: Removal of the Watertown Dam would eliminate a hazardous dam on the main stem of the Charles river and improve fish passage.\n\nProject: Hollingsworth and Ames Pond Dams RemovalApplying Organization: Braintree in partnership with Fore River Watershed AssociationProject Description: This project would involve the removal of two dams and associated channel improvements to restore fish passage in the Fore River system in tandem with the Division of Marine Fisheries.\n\nProject: Fearing Brook RevitalizationApplying Organization: Town of AmherstProject Description: The Fearing Brook restoration would include daylighting, stormwater improvements and other habitat enhancements to a highly impacted and urbanized stream.\n\n\u201cThe Priority Projects Program is the primary vehicle by which the Division of Ecological Restoration pursues aquatic habitat restoration and river revitalization projects that present the greatest benefit to the Commonwealth \u2013 both ecologically and socially,\u201d said DER Director Tim Purinton. \u201cThese projects leverage significant federal funds, on average five federal dollars to every state dollar invested.\u201d\n\nPriority Projects are evaluated on their ecological benefit, cost, size, practicality, feasibility, opportunity for public education and recreation, available program resources, and partner support, and are chosen through a state-wide, competitive process. The selection of projects begins when the DER issues a pre-Request for Responses (RFR). Eligible applicants include municipalities, private property owners, non-profits, and academic institutions. Additionally, selected projects are eligible to receive technical services such as data collection, engineering, design work, and permitting; project management and fundraising assistance from DER staff; and small grants.\n\n\u201cI am pleased to learn that the Lyman Mill Dam Removal project in Southampton and the Arcadia Sanctuary Floodplain Restoration project in Easthampton have been designated as Priority Projects by the Division of Ecological Restoration,\u201d said Senator Don Humason (R-Westfield). \u201cThanks to DER\u2019s recognition of the benefits of these projects, both communities will be able to access exclusive technical supports and funding to revitalize local ecologies and improve public safety.\u201d\n\n\u201cWe are thankful that the Arcadia Sanctuary Floodplain Restoration project has been recognized as a priority project. This recognition will open doors for funding and project management which will bring us one step closer to improving biodiversity along the Mill River,\u201d said State Representative John Scibak (D-South Hadley). \u201cGrant funding coupled with our partnership with Mass Audubon will ensure this project is a successful one, benefiting not only our community but those along the Connecticut River.\u201d\n\n\u201cCompletely cognizant of the persistent drought conditions that we have endured I\u2019m particularly pleased that the Ipswich River Watershed Association was included as a priority project for their water conservation efforts,\u201d said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).\n\n\u201cGiven what we have just witnessed throughout this past summer with the Ipswich River, the designation of the Ipswich River Flow Restoration in partnership with The Ipswich Watershed Association as a Priority Project by the Department of Fish and Game\u2019s Division of Ecological Restoration is an encouraging step in the direction of rectifying the damage done to our ecosystem during the drought,\u201d said State Representative Brad Hill (R-Ipswich).\n\nThe mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) is to restore and protect the Commonwealth\u2019s rivers, wetlands, and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment.\u00a0\n\nThe Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth\u0027s 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\u0027s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.