Press Release

Press Release State and Federal Officials Award $1 Million Settlement Funding to Ecological Restoration Projects in Upper Neponset River Watershed

Three Projects Funded by Blackburn & Union Privileges Natural Resources Settlement
For immediate release:
1/09/2019
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Media Contact for State and Federal Officials Award $1 Million Settlement Funding to Ecological Restoration Projects in Upper Neponset River Watershed

Edmund Coletta, MassDEP – Director of Public Affairs

BOSTONState and federal environmental officials today announced that a watershed-scale initiative to restore cold-water fisheries in Traphole Brook, Memorial Pond wetlands, and groundwater quality will be funded by the $1 million settlement reached in 2011 for natural resources harmed by contaminants from the Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund site in Walpole, Massachusetts.

The funds are allocated in a Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment from the Blackburn & Union Privileges Natural Resource Damages Trustee Council, which is composed of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, represented by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The council worked with citizens, community and environmental groups, local and regional officials, and state and federal agencies to identify restoration project ideas. The restoration projects benefit natural resources similar to the ones that were injured in the Upper Neponset River Watershed. 

“For many decades, serious environmental contamination occurred in the Neponset River and to nearby wetlands and groundwater resources,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “With these projects, we can achieve ecological and groundwater restoration and re-open these beautiful natural resources for the enjoyment of the public.”

“The importance of our local partners, who have been working on the ground for years to steward and restore the Neponset River Watershed, cannot be overstated,” said Tom Chapman, project leader for the Service’s New England Field Office. “The Service is proud to be a partner in directing these settlement funds toward restoration efforts that have been cultivated by local municipalities, state agencies and NGOs for years.”

The selected projects together will restore migratory and cold-water fisheries habitat, improve native wetland habitat for wildlife by restoring native plant communities, and also benefit groundwater resources. Additional projects to protect land and support ongoing restoration efforts in the Sharon Great Cedar Swamp may be funded if resources are available. 

The 22-acre Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund site is located along the Neponset River in Walpole. The operation of various industrial facilities dating back to the 19th century contaminated the site with asbestos, arsenic, lead and other hazardous substances. Streams, wetlands, soil and groundwater resources were contaminated, which in turn affected the fish and wildlife that rely upon these habitats.

The settlement funding will be used for the following projects:

Memorial Pond Project – Walpole

  • The Trustees Council is using $126,775 from the settlement to support the Memorial Pond project, which will restore and enhance 0.76 acres of near-shore wetland habitat around Memorial Pond in Walpole. The Town of Walpole is implementing the project, which involves creating shallow-water wetland habitat, native plantings and the removal of invasive plant species that have created a low-diversity habitat. 

Traphole Brook Watershed Restoration Initiative – Norwood, Walpole and Sharon

  • The Trustee Council is using $450,000 to support the Traphole Brook Watershed Restoration Initiative, a partnership with the Neponset River Watershed Association, The Massachusetts Department of Ecological Resources, the Boston Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the towns of Norwood, Walpole and Sharon seek to restore fish passage, improve water quality and restore riparian habitat in the Traphole Brook watershed, a rare coldwater fishery located right outside of Boston. The Trustees plan to invest approximately $375,000 to address fish passage barriers on Traphole Brook, approximately $75,000 to implement stormwater management best practices in the watershed to improve water quality and approximately $50,000 to restore and replant riparian habitat in the watershed. 

MassDEP anticipates publishing a competitive Grant Announcement and Application for the $300,000, groundwater-only portion of the settlement in the next few months.

A copy of the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment is available here.

 

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Media Contact for State and Federal Officials Award $1 Million Settlement Funding to Ecological Restoration Projects in Upper Neponset River Watershed

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 

MassDEP ensures clean air, land and water. We oversee the safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes. We ensure the timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills. And we work to preserve the state's wetlands and coastal resources.
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