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Boston — March 17, 2017 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a grant of $1,068,481 in federal funds for three coastal ecosystem resiliency projects in East Bridgewater, Scituate and Yarmouth. All three projects were previously designated Priority Projects by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER).
“Massachusetts continues to take a leading role in understanding and preparing for climate change impacts like sea level rise and coastal flooding with the help of grants like this and the Climate Change Executive Order we signed last fall,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These funds will support important restoration and dam removal projects that will improve the resiliency of vital wildlife habitat.”
“Our Administration is committed to safeguarding the Commonwealth’s coastal communities, the first to feel the impacts of coastal flooding and storm damage,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The projects identified by the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration will work to improve public safety while also improving ecological conditions for wildlife.”
All projects will be funded through Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants, administered by NOAA Fisheries, which is dedicated to the development of healthy and sustainable coastal ecosystems through habitat restoration actions. Once implemented, these projects will directly build resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities through removal of dams and hydrologic reconnection of rivers to floodplains and tides to wetlands.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of NOAA Fisheries and their commitment to working with us in our efforts to build resilient coastal ecosystems, communities and economies,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “These efforts are especially important as Massachusetts faces changing climate conditions, rising tides and more intense storms.”
“Healthy salt marshes not only buffer storms but are fertile grounds for juvenile fish, rare plants and coastal water birds, among other wildlife,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner George N. Peterson, Jr. “These projects will lessen flooding risks, benefit wildlife and provide better opportunities for outdoor recreation.”
Information about the three projects is listed below:
Project Title: Carver Cotton Gin Dam Removal and Satucket River Restoration Project
Recommended NOAA Funding: $212,871
Summary: The Department of Fish and Game, Division of Ecological Restoration, The Nature Conservancy and partners will remove the Carver Cotton Gin Dam in East Bridgewater, rated as a “Significant Hazard” dam by the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety. The dam jeopardizes an upstream bridge and is the first dam from the ocean without fish passage on the Satucket River. This removal is part of an effort to improve ecosystem resiliency by connecting major tributaries of the Wild & Scenic Taunton River with the main stem, Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Project Title: Hunters Pond Dam Removal and Bound Brook Restoration Project
Recommended NOAA Funding: $192,566
Summary: In an effort to strengthen ecosystem and community resilience to changing environmental conditions, the Town of Scituate, in partnership with the Division of Ecological Restoration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will remove the Hunters Pond Dam. The project will open up approximately five miles of riverine corridor. The project will also restore tidal ebb and flow to Hunters Pond, floodplain function within a nine-square-mile coastal watershed, and improve water quality in Bound Brook.
Project Title: Parkers River Tidal Restoration Project
Recommended NOAA Funding: $663,044
Summary: The Town of Yarmouth and the Division of Ecological Restoration are leading a federal, state, and local partnership to eliminate a severe tidal restriction on the Parkers River. The project will replace a degraded and undersized state bridge on Route 28, a primary transportation corridor on Cape Cod, with a modern 30’ wide bridge. This restoration project will reduce damage to infrastructure by allowing storm surge to flow more rapidly out of the estuary following major storm events. The project will also improve fish passage, salt marsh growth and improve the overall health of the Parkers River estuary by reducing nitrogen loads. The NOAA grant will be matched by Town of Yarmouth, Community Preservation Act funds and is also supported by a Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Grant awarded to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the Department of the Interior. DER recently awarded $1 million in DOI funding for this project.
“Yarmouth is very appreciative of NOAA’s support on this important project that provides many benefits to our community,” said Yarmouth Interim Town Administrator Bob Lawton. “Eliminating this tidal restriction is vitally important to improving the overall health and resiliency of the Parkers River Estuary.”
“The Town of East Bridgewater and the Board of Selectmen have been waiting many years for the cleanup and renovation in the area and we applaud all the effort by anyone concerned to finish this project,” said East Bridgewater Selectman David Sheedy.
“Support like this is critical as the Commonwealth and local communities help lead the way nationally with use of nature-based approaches to reduce the impact on people from such things as coastal storm surge and inland flooding,” said Alison Bowden, director of rivers, coasts and oceans for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.
“We are pleased that this project will improve spawning habitat and have a positive long term impact upon our fishing industry,” said Martin J. O’Toole, Chairman of the Scituate Board of Selectmen.
“This grant will provide funds that are critical to improving overall ecosystem resiliency in East Bridgewater,” said State Senator Walter Timilty (D-Milton). “I would like to thank the Division of Ecological Restoration of the Department of Fish and Game, the Nature Conservancy, and the town of East Bridgewater for their commitment to protecting our environment from changing climate change conditions while also restoring a vibrant wildlife habitat.”
“I commend the Town of Scituate for continued successful efforts to restore key natural systems through this grant and other resiliency projects. Healthy rivers, brooks, and marshes offer critical habitats for fish, land mammals, and other marine life and act as a natural buffer between homes and businesses and coastal threats like flooding and storm surge,” said State Representative Jim Cantwell (D-Marshfield). “I am grateful to Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary Beaton, and Commissioner Peterson for consistently recognizing and prioritizing coastal resiliency in our communities.”
“Coastal resilience continues to be an increasingly important issue for our communities,” said State Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull). “Bound Brook has long been deserving of this project and I am eager to see the tidal flow restored and the floodplain brought back to its original function.”
“I am very much pleased that this work is going to be done,” said State Representative Will Crocker (R-Centerville). “This project will allow for improved tidal flushing on Parker’s River and greatly increase traffic safety for those who travel route 28 through Yarmouth.”
“Water flow in our region has been a major issue affecting not only quantity and quality available for human consumption, but it also has an ecological and economic impact as well. Not only would a herring spawning area adjacent to the Cotton Gin dam benefit from the removal, but fish passage would also be restored to Robbins Pond and beyond. Efforts are already underway to revitalize and protect the herring population, which is an important component of our state’s lobster industry,” State Representative Geoffrey G. Diehl (R-Whitman). “I am pleased that the Baker-Polito Administration has included this project as part of the scope of environmental improvements to our state’s ecosystem, I am excited about the long-term positive impact the removal will have, and I am grateful for the funds that had heretofore been unavailable to mitigate the free flow of the Sautucket River.”
“Americans who live on the coast face enormous risks when Mother Nature strikes; however, it is natural infrastructure--wetlands, marshes, floodplains, and coral reefs--that often serve as our best defense,” said Eileen Sobeck, head of NOAA Fisheries. “The selected projects will restore our natural barriers and help keep people, communities, and businesses safe.”
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.