State environmental officials today announced that the Department of Fish and Game\u2019s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) was awarded a $179,620 Forest and Rivers Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The grant will enable DER to increase the pace of replacing undersized culverts in the Deerfield River watershed, improving stream connectivity and reducing roadway and flood hazards.\n\n\u201cThis grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will help towns in the Deerfield River watershed to vastly improve the network of undersized culverts in the region and to protect critical cold water habitat,\u201d said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cThis project demonstrates the kind of practical approach to increase the resiliency of our infrastructure and wildlife habitat that will support the state\u2019s climate adaptation goals under Executive Order 569, and we forward to working with municipalities to improve road infrastructure and habitat conditions in cold water rivers.\u201d\n\nDER\u2019s Stream Continuity Program helps municipalities replace undersized culverts with better designed structures that meet ecological and public safety criteria, ultimately resulting in improvements to stream connectivity and a reduction in roadway and flood hazards.\n\nThe grant from NFWF will help DER continue to develop and deliver a culvert engineering and design, permitting, and construction toolkit with associated trainings to help municipal staff better design and build culverts that meet the required Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards. The grant, in conjunction with other DER funds, will immediately advance the design and/or construction of up to six culverts in the Deerfield River watershed and in time will lead to many more replacements.\n\n\u201cThe Deerfield River watershed has some of the best cold water fisheries habitat in the Commonwealth, and we are pleased to partner with the cities and towns in the region to improve habitat for fish and wildlife and roadway infrastructure,\u201d said DFG Commissioner George Peterson.\n\nThe funding received from the federal government also builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration\u2019s strong leadership to mitigate and adapt to climate change by improving the resiliency of our infrastructure and wildlife habitats. Earlier this year, in a continued effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change, Governor Baker signed an Executive Order which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth.\n\n\u201cThis project is a win for fish and a win for the community,\u201d said Amanda Bassow, Northeastern Regional Director at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. \u201cIt is terrific when we can support projects like this that improve habitat for wildlife, while also reducing risks from flooding for the community.\u201d\n\nNearly half of Massachusetts\u2019s estimated 30,000 culverts are undersized and barriers to fish and wildlife. Undersized culverts are also a serious risk to public safety, as increased rainfall amounts cause roads to overtop and washout. Replacing culverts to meet the Stream Crossing Standards allow streams to flow more naturally, which allows for fish and storm waters to pass more easily. Recent studies also show the culverts that meet the Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards are less expensive than traditional culvert replacements over the life of the replacement.\n\n\u201cThe work DER is doing with DPWs in the Deerfield River watershed and around the state is a blessing,\u201d said Deerfield DPW Director Kevin Scarborough. \u201cThe Stream Continuity Program has been extremely helpful to our small town, and it is great to work with them.\u201d\n\n\u201cReconstructing our culverts to better manage our waterways provides for long term sustainability of our eco-system and protects public safety,\u201d said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). \u201cThese funds will help improve the management of the Deerfield River Watershed while conserving an important resource for Western Massachusetts.\u201d\n\n\u0022Protection of our waterways from pollution and erosion is critically important to maintaining natural habitats and building healthier ecosystems,\u201d said State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). \u201cThis grant funding for the Deerfield River enhances efforts to improve access and safety on the river, and to help preserve it as one of our great natural resources in western Massachusetts.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe cooperative efforts of both our state and federal government to obtain this grant will assist our local communities\u2019 efforts to provide safe and efficient infrastructure and enhanced fish and wildlife habitat for all to enjoy,\u201d said State Representative Gailanne Cariddi (D-North Adams).\n\n\u0022This grant represents an important investment in the future of the Deerfield River watershed,\u201d said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). \u201cI am grateful to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for this funding which will allow us to take a necessary step in maintaining and improving the natural stream patterns of our ecosystems, avoid erosion, and halt the build-up of debris. I look forward to working with the EEA to ensure Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards.\u201d\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.\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.