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CZ-Mail Year in Review - 2014

Published January 2015

Welcome to the year-in-review edition of CZ-Mail, which highlights many of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) accomplishments in 2014, provides news and information about our programs and regions, and discusses the notable achievements of our partners. CZM would like to thank all of the people and organizations that contribute their time, effort, and passion to working on issues important to the Massachusetts coast. It has been a pleasure to work with you over the past year, and we look forward to a positive and productive 2015.

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Overview of 2014 at CZM

From finalizing the 2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan to helping communities address coastal flooding and erosion issues through two new grant programs and the newly created Coastal Erosion Commission, CZM had a busy and productive year in 2014. CZM took the lead on behalf of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to review and revise the 2009 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. A draft plan was released in September for public comment with a final revised plan released on January 6, 2015. Also on the ocean planning front, CZM played important roles with the Northeast Regional Ocean Council and the Northeast Regional Ocean Planning Body in developing foundational elements of a regional ocean planning framework that advances the mandate of the National Ocean Policy. CZM also continued coordination with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on planning and analysis for renewable wind energy development on the outer continental shelf offshore of Massachusetts. In 2014, Massachusetts was hit by two major coastal storms—a January northeaster and an early November northeaster—which sent out CZM’s Storm Team members to survey coastal communities and submit important damage assessment reports. In March, the first meeting of the Coastal Erosion Commission was held in Boston. The commission is charged with investigating coastal erosion in the Commonwealth and developing recommendations to minimize its impacts along the coast. A draft report was released for public comment on January 7, 2015, with a final report due in the spring of 2015. Also in March, CZM Director Bruce Carlisle provided a Congressional briefing on how state coastal programs and regional ocean partnerships work with scientists and local officials to build more resilient coastlines. He highlighted CZM’s StormSmart Coasts Program, which helps communities and homeowners address coastal erosion, flooding, and storm damage issues. In the spring, CZM awarded $2.3 million for 19 inaugural Coastal Community Resilience and Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience grants—two grant programs developed to reduce or eliminate risks associated with coastal storms, erosion, and sea level rise. In June, with CZM’s leadership and assistance, a long-time goal was realized as the Massachusetts’s statewide No Discharge Zone (NDZ) designation was approved, prohibiting vessel sewage discharges anywhere along the Massachusetts coast. In December, through the Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program, CZM provided almost $400,000 in direct support to coastal communities for on-the-ground projects to reduce coastal water pollution and improve the health of coastal resources, such as shellfish beds. Also in December, CZM awarded $3 million in funding to 18 recipients for the second round of Coastal Community Resilience and Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience grants. These and other highlights and accomplishments for CZM and its hosted programs in 2014 are summarized below.

CZM Program Accomplishments

CZM’s mission is to balance the impact of human activities with the protection of coastal and marine resources through planning, public involvement, education, research, and sound resource management. To achieve these goals, as well as to meet the needs of municipal officials, property owners, educators, and others in the coastal community, CZM maintains a range of programs. The accomplishments for each CZM program area are listed below.

Ocean Management

Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan Review and Amendment - Under the Oceans Act of 2008, EEA is required to review the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan at least every five years. The original ocean plan, which was released in 2009, established protections for critical marine habitat and important water-dependent uses in the Massachusetts Ocean Planning Area and set siting and performance standards for specific ocean-based development. As with the development of the original ocean plan, CZM led the plan review and update effort on behalf of EEA, working closely with the Ocean Advisory Commission and Ocean Science Advisory Council. In March, workshops were conducted to present and solicit feedback on findings and recommendations by the six technical work groups (habitat, fisheries, sediment resources, recreational and cultural services, transportation and navigation, and energy and infrastructure). In September, EEA released the Draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, September 2014 for public review, hearings, and a 60-day public comment period. This draft presented the first formal amendment of the Commonwealth’s ocean plan. Following the release of the draft, five regional public meetings were held to solicit input. Working closely with the Ocean Advisory Commission and the Ocean Science Advisory Council, and within the context of the input received from stakeholders and the public, CZM revised and finalized the 2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, which was released on January 6, 2015. The 2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan page also includes links to the 2015 draft plan, information about the review and update process, and other relevant documents.

Massachusetts Ocean Plan Process Highlighted Following First Approved Project - The October/November/December 2014 issue of Coastal Services, a magazine from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management, features an article on the first project approved under the 2009 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. Permitted in 2013, the Comcast/NSTAR project combines electrical and fiber-optic technology into a single, underwater cable running 4.6 miles across Vineyard Sound. The project was designed to avoid sensitive marine habitats identified by the ocean plan. Once completed, the cable bundle will be buried and will avoid areas important to sea life, such as eelgrass beds and rock piles. The planning process prescribed in the ocean plan resulted in lower project costs and less review and permitting time. The case study, conducted by SeaPlan, indicates that this project is an example of how ocean planning can lead to better economic and environmental results. For details, see Massachusetts Ocean Plan Gets High Marks Following First Approved Project in the October/November/December 2014 issue of Coastal Services.

Northeast Regional Ocean Planning Body - Since its inaugural meeting in November 2012, the Northeast Regional Planning Body (Northeast RPB) has been working on the development of goals, objectives, and accompanying actions for a regional ocean planning initiative in the Northeast. Under the National Ocean Policy, the Northeast RPB is charged with leading a cooperative effort to build partnerships and improve management, siting, and regulatory decisions affecting coastal and ocean resources and uses. Starting in 2013, the Northeast RPB—which is comprised of representatives of the six New England states, 10 federal agencies, and 10 tribes—began efforts to develop draft goals, objectives, and actions that will lead to a management plan in 2016. This process continued in 2014. In January, the Northeast RPB received further public and stakeholder input and reviewed, revised, and approved proposed goals, objectives, and accompanying actions. In June, the Northeast RPB convened scientists, managers, tribes, industry groups, and conservation organizations for a workshop on natural resources assessments for ocean planning, deliberated on options for technical and stakeholder input, and considered how ocean planning efforts can make the regulatory process more efficient. In November, the Northeast RPB reviewed and discussed options for advancing key actions related to its goals for healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems and effective decision making. The RPB agreed on several important decisions for next steps in the regional ocean planning initiative for the Northeast, including continued work on characterizing the distribution and abundance of marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, and birds; formation of an interdisciplinary work group to explore options for identifying important ecological areas and adaptive, ecosystem-based management approaches; continued work on identifying best practices for consultation with tribes; and additional consideration and deliberations on the eventual implementation of the regional ocean plan, including the application and usage of data in the plan, inter-agency coordination measures, and other best practices. Also during 2014, the Northeast RPB established a number of work groups to develop products that characterize ocean planning resources and consider options to improve decision making. Work groups include one for regulatory issues, several for marine life (marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, and bird species), and commercial fisheries. Marine life characterization efforts will continue over the next year with a team of researchers from Duke University’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, the Biogeography Branch of the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and the Ecosystem Assessment Program of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Additionally, work has begun to characterize non-consumptive ocean uses including diving, whale watching, and surfing/kayaking, led by a partnership of SeaPlan, Surfrider Foundation, and Point97. CZM is a member of the Northeast RPB and participates on all of these work groups. For more information, see the Northeast RPB's  Ocean Planning in the Northeast website.

Offshore Wind Project Development - In November, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank announced that more than 742,000 acres offshore Massachusetts will be offered for commercial wind energy development in a January 29, 2015, competitive lease sale. This step followed the Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) (PDF, 257 KB) released by BOEM in June for review and a 60-day public comment period, which described the leasing process and auction format for four lease areas (PDF, 252 KB) within the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area, located approximately 12 miles offshore Massachusetts. In June, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and BOEM hosted public meetings in Tisbury and New Bedford as well as meetings of the Commonwealth’s Fisheries and Habitat Working Groups on Offshore Renewable Energy to discuss the PSN, recent and ongoing studies commissioned by MassCEC on transmission and marine mammals, and the update of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. For more information on the commercial wind leasing process offshore Massachusetts, including how to comment on the PSN, see the BOEM website.

Gulf of Maine Council - In June, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (GOMC) presented its annual awards during a ceremony in Halifax, Nova Scotia, including awards to four environmental leaders from Massachusetts for their exceptional work to protect and enhance environmental quality in the Gulf of Maine. Carol “Krill” Carson received the prestigious Longard Volunteer Award for her tireless work to educate people about the Gulf of Maine and motivate them to participate in a sighting network for basking sharks and the rescue of stranded ocean sunfish. The town of Plymouth’s Department of Marine and Environmental Affairs was presented the Sustainable Communities Award for their exemplary work in restoring fish passage and in-stream and wetland habitat throughout the community. The North and South Rivers Watershed Association received a Visionary Award for their role in protecting and enhancing the ecological value of a watershed encompassing 12 towns in Massachusetts. Phil Colarusso of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) received a Visionary Award for his work as a recognized leader on eelgrass conservation in New England. Also this year, GOMC developed the Gulf of Maine Council GeoTour, a scavenger hunt type tour where participants collect points by answering specific site questions. Five sites are found in each of the five provinces and states. Sites were selected to highlight important natural, historic, cultural, and economic features of the region. The GOMC is undertaking an organizational assessment to review its scope and align its activities with current issues and priorities in the Gulf of Maine, which was the main focus of the agenda for the meeting of the Councilors in December 2014.

Seafloor Mapping Initiative - CZM and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) published two new seafloor mapping products in 2014. High-Resolution Geophysical Data Collected Aboard the U.S. Geological Survey Vessel Rafael to Supplement Existing Datasets From Buzzards Bay to Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts contains geographic information system (GIS) data and technical explanations of data collection and processing of the Massachusetts nearshore areas off the eastern Elizabeth Islands and northern coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Bathymetry of the Waters Surrounding the Elizabeth Islands, Massachusetts is a USGS Scientific Investigation Map that contains a summary of the post-glacial geologic history of the Elizabeth Islands and surrounding Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. Each report was prepared as part of the 11-year, cooperative mapping program between CZM and USGS. Other reports in the series can be found on the USGS Geologic Mapping of the Massachusetts Seafloor. Additionally, 180 square kilometers of geological data collected south of Martha’s Vineyard and north of Nantucket in 2013 are currently in review and will be published in 2015. These reports will include sediment sample analyses, seafloor photographs, and geologic interpretations. Similar reports are in production on sampling data from CZM surveys in 2011 and 2012 aboard EPA's OSV Bold. For more information on CZM’s role, see the CZM Seafloor Mapping Program website.

StormSmart Coasts

Coastal Erosion Commission - The Massachusetts Coastal Erosion Commission was established by the FY 2014 Budget Bill to investigate and document levels and impacts of coastal erosion in the Commonwealth and develop strategies and recommendations to reduce, minimize, or eliminate the magnitude and frequency of coastal erosion and its adverse impacts on property, infrastructure, public safety, and beaches and dunes. On behalf of EEA, CZM chaired and staffed the commission. Following on its first meeting in March, the commission established three working groups and held a series of five regional workshops to introduce the commission and its charge, present information related to coastal erosion and shoreline management approaches, seek public and stakeholder feedback, and communicate the commission’s process and next steps. A summary of feedback received is available in the Summary of Public Workshops Report (PDF, 324 KB). The three working groups on science and technical issues, erosion impacts, and legal and regulatory opportunities produced reports to the commission. The commission released a draft report on January 7, 2015, for a 90-day public comment period, and five regional public hearings will be held in early 2015 to solicit input on the draft report.

Coastal Community Resilience Grants - In January, CZM launched a new grant program to support local efforts for climate adaptation. As part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts $50 million investment in comprehensive climate change preparedness initiatives, the Coastal Community Resilience Grant Program provides funding and technical resources to advance new and innovative local efforts to address climate change and sea level rise impacts. Specifically, the funds finance city and town efforts to increase awareness of these issues, assess vulnerability and risk at the local level, and implement measures to respond, recover, and adapt to impacts to the coast. In 2014, CZM awarded $2.5 million in funding through two rounds of the Coastal Community Resilience Grants Program. In April, 10 grants were awarded to the communities of Barnstable, Boston, Brewster, Gloucester, Hingham, Hull, Oak Bluffs, Provincetown, Salem, and Weymouth. In December, the FY 2015 grants were awarded to the communities of Duxbury, Hull, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mattapoisett, Nantucket, Provincetown, Sandwich, Swampscott, Wareham, Weymouth, and Winthrop. Examples of projects awarded over the first two grant rounds include:

  • Provincetown - $155,125 to map low-lying areas that act as pathways for flood waters to reach inland areas and install a tide gauge to provide real-time water level data.
  • Sandwich - $300,000 to analyze a nearshore site adjacent to Scusset Beach to determine its viability as a source of sand for future placement on eroding public beaches down drift of the Cape Cod Canal jetties.
  • Mattapoisett - $47,791 to evaluate climate change risks and develop priority adaption actions for critical water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • Hull - $41,250 to redesign a revetment and seawall along Crescent Beach to account for sea level rise and reduce property damage, environmental impacts, and public safety threats.

CZM Resilience Grant Funds Design Competition for Response to Sea Level Rise in Boston - In October, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh launched Boston Living with Water, a design competition for ideas on responding to sea level rise in Boston. Funded in part through CZM’s Coastal Community Resilience Grant Program, this two-stage competition seeks submissions that incorporate concepts and strategies, including Living with Water Design principles that will increase Boston’s sustainability and climate change resiliency. Selected finalists will further advance location-specific solutions to coastal flood dangers and rising sea levels that are beautiful and replicable. For complete competition details, see the Boston Living with Water website.

Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience Grants - In February, CZM announced a new grant program to support local efforts to reduce or eliminate risks associated with coastal storms, erosion, and sea level rise through natural and nonstructural approaches, called green infrastructure. Also part of the state’s $50 million investment in comprehensive climate change preparedness initiatives, the Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience Grant Program provides funding and technical resources to coastal cities, towns, and nonprofit groups for natural approaches to address coastal erosion and flooding problems. Grants can be used for planning, feasibility assessment, design, permitting, construction, and monitoring of green infrastructure projects that use natural approaches instead of hard structures such as seawalls and revetments. CZM awarded $2.8 million in funding through two rounds of the Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience Grant Program in 2014. In May, nine pilot grants were awarded to Barnstable, Brewster, Chilmark, Duxbury Beach Reservation, Gosnold, Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, Newbury, Plymouth, and Scituate. In December, the FY 2015 grants were awarded to Chilmark, Gloucester, Plymouth, Salem, Save Popponesset Bay, Inc., Scituate, and Westport. Examples of projects awarded over the first two grant rounds include:

  • Gloucester - $310,000 to restore a coastal floodplain by removing obsolete concrete structures and fill associated with the West Gloucester Water Treatment Plant and create salt marsh using bioengineering techniques.
  • Plymouth - $279,080 to fill seven severely eroded washover areas on Long Beach with rounded cobbles to increase storm damage protection and flood control for Plymouth Harbor.
  • Brewster - $155,000 to remove an asphalt parking area at Breakwater Landing and relocate parking spaces to a less vulnerable location, restore dune habitat, and provide a seasonal boardwalk for beach access.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, Inc. - $35,262 to conduct preliminary investigations into the hatchery production of ribbed mussels and test “living shoreline” techniques at four sites.

CZM Fact Sheet to Help Coastal Property Owners with Permitting Construction Projects - To protect public safety, coastal development, and natural resources, Massachusetts has enacted regulations that set minimum construction standards for building projects, including all new buildings, repair of storm-damaged properties, additions, septic systems, seawalls, decks, and a variety of other projects in coastal areas. In addition, when building or rebuilding after a storm, coastal property owners can go beyond minimum regulatory standards—using the best available techniques to minimize future property damage, significantly reduce flood insurance rates, and preserve the capacity of natural landforms to buffer storm waves and flooding. CZM’s new fact sheet, StormSmart Coasts: Who to Contact and What to Do Before Building or Rebuilding, provides information for coastal property owners on applicable regulations and agency contacts, an overview of the most common permits needed, and recommendations for StormSmart building techniques to better protect coastal property.

Massachusetts Receives Funds to Characterize Beaches - Geoscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Massachusetts Geological Survey, in partnership with CZM, have received a $200,000 award from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to characterize sediment types and document current beach and dune profiles at 22 public beaches along the Massachusetts coast over the next two years. This project will establish baseline characteristics (i.e., grain size statistics and elevation profiles) and provide data needed for evaluating shoreline management options including beach and dune nourishment. The beaches being assessed in year one of the project are located in Cuttyhunk, Falmouth, Nantucket, Oak Bluffs, and Westport. In 2015-2016, the field team will assess beaches in Hull, Marshfield, Nahant, Newbury, Newburyport, Plymouth, Revere, Rockport, Salisbury, Sandwich, Scituate, and Winthrop.

Dam and Seawall Repair and Removal Fund - CZM assisted EEA with the implementation of the Dam and Seawall Repair and Removal Fund, which was established in 2013 by the Massachusetts Legislature to promote public health, public safety, and ecological restoration. A second round of applications was solicited through a Request for Responses in 2014. CZM assisted EEA in selecting three seawall and four dam projects for funding. In September, grants for over $9.3 million were awarded to Marshfield, Nantucket, and Scituate for work on seawalls and other coastal engineering structures. For more information about the fund, see the EEA website.

StormSmart Coasts Outreach - Throughout 2014, CZM’s StormSmart Coasts Program held workshops in the coastal regions and presented at other events to provide local officials and others with information on erosion, flooding, coastal storm impacts, sea level rise, coastal inundation mapping, alternatives for mitigating erosion and storm damage, and local adaptation planning. CZM also assisted Sea Grant with an update to the Massachusetts Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards (PDF, 14 MB) to provide information to homeowners on how to stay safe and minimize damages during coastal storms. This handbook includes information on hurricanes and northeasters along with practical measures and cost-effective steps that can be implemented to lower individual risk and increase the resilience of coastal communities.

Coastal Habitat

Marine Invader Monitoring and Information Collaborative - Since 2006, CZM's Marine Invasive Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC) has served as a marine invasive species early detection and monitoring network for New England, providing not only a critical data source to coastal managers, but also educational experiences to a large public audience. In 2014, MIMIC teams were again out in force—searching for marine invaders at floating docks and rocky shores at sites from Cape Cod to Maine. Data are collected by trained citizen scientists following protocols detailed in Monitoring for Marine Invasive Species: Guidance and Protocols for Volunteer Monitoring Groups (PDF, 2 MB), and are available to the public through the MORIS online data management and mapping tool. For more information on MIMIC, and to view monitoring protocols, identification resources, and links, see the CZM Invasive Species Program website. Thanks again to all the hardworking MIMIC volunteers and partners!

Green Crab Study - This summer, CZM looked into the impacts of invasive green crab Carcinus maenas (PDF, 354 KB) burrowing activity in Massachusetts salt marshes. (See the Mass Great Outdoors Blog post, Not from Around Here: Green Crabs, for details on this study.) Green crabs prey on native organisms and can create a complex network of deep, permanent burrows in the banks of salt marsh creeks, potentially altering natural chemical processes, hastening erosion, and disrupting the ecological balance. While green crabs have been present in Massachusetts for more than 100 years, this aspect of their biology has not been studied in depth. CZM found burrows throughout salt marshes in Massachusetts, but more data is needed to characterize the impacts. CZM will continue to study this issue to get a clearer understanding of the impact of this invasive species on salt marshes and other coastal habitats in Massachusetts. Visit the CZM Invasive Species Program website for more information about marine invasive species, their impacts, and what you can do to help.

Report on the 2013 Rapid Assessment Survey - During August 2013, an expert team of taxonomists were on the hunt for marine invasive species throughout New England as part of a periodic Rapid Assessment Survey. The survey, coordinated by CZM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sea Grant College Program, has occurred roughly every three years since 2000 and provides an opportunity to discover new marine invaders through a close inspection of flora and fauna. (See these ID cards for examples of established and potential invaders in Massachusetts coastal waters.) The Report on the 2013 Rapid Assessment Survey of Marine Species at New England Bays and Harbors (PDF, 53 MB) provides an overview of the invasive, cryptogenic (species with as of yet unresolved origins), and native species found at 18 sites from Maine to Rhode Island during the 2013 survey. Thirty-nine invasive species in total were found during this survey, an increase of 10 species from the last survey conducted in 2010.

Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment - Data on vegetation, macroinvertebrates, and habitat characteristics were collected at 15 salt marsh sites during the summer field season. The data will be analyzed in an effort to further verify the Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS), a landscape-level, spatial model developed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst to predict ecological integrity. CZM has worked with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and UMass to refine, verify, and calibrate the model with empirical data collected from 2009-2012. The CAPS website provides more information about that program. Additionally, CZM staff have been analyzing pre- and post-monitoring data for six historically restored salt marshes and will be reporting on those in spring 2015. For general wetland information, see CZM’s Coastal Wetland Monitoring and Assessment website.

Identifying Coastal Wetlands Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise - CZM has been working with partners, including the Marine Biological Laboratory, Plum Island Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research program, and Woods Hole Group, to model coastal wetland response to different sea level rise scenarios, integrating models that incorporate coastal and estuarine processes with long-term local data. Site-specific information and maps will be generated to identify and communicate vulnerability, risk, and impacts to Massachusetts coastal wetlands, as well as opportunities for salt marshes to migrate landward. These products will inform an effort to work with the stakeholders in summer and fall of 2015 to identify and start implementing adaptation strategies to better conserve and manage wetlands as sea levels rise. As part of this project, investigators will also work with regional and local groups to establish a network of long-term monitoring stations to track the movement of plant community structure and other changes (e.g., length of time that the soils are saturated) in the salt marsh-upland transition zone. This effort will create a high resolution baseline to measure future sea level rise impacts to salt marshes. Over time, the field data will have the potential to help calibrate and verify the marsh migration models used in this project.

Other Coastal Habitat Program Activities - In 2014, CZM completed a draft Habitat Work Group report—covering wetlands, marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles—to help inform the update of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan’s protected areas.

Coastal Water Quality

$368,298 in Water Quality Grants Awarded to Coastal Communities - In December, CZM awarded $368,298 in Coastal Pollution Remediation (CPR) Grants for projects to protect coastal waters in Massachusetts. The Fiscal Year 2015 winning projects are:

  • Duxbury - $125,000 to construct systems to intercept and treat contaminated stormwater runoff at four locations, which will improve water quality in the “Nook” and Kingston Bay.
  • Hingham - $13,000 to finalize designs and obtain permits for a stormwater treatment system that uses soils and plants to intercept and filter runoff to reduce sediment and bacterial contamination to Walton’s Cove and Hingham Harbor.
  • Kingston - $118,262 to construct a system to treat stormwater runoff in the Landing Road area, which is a major source of bacteria and sediment to the Jones River.
  • Manchester-by-the-Sea - $125,000 to conduct a feasibility study for using Low Impact Development (LID) elements to address runoff pollution to Sawmill Brook/Cat Brook and Manchester Harbor.

Grants to Restore Water Quality in Southern New England - In October, EEA announced nearly $730,000 in funding to help improve water quality in Buzzards Bay and its watershed. Part of a broader EPA effort to address common water quality problems in the region, the grants will be used to reduce nutrient pollution from fertilizers, septic systems, and other sources to both fresh and saltwater systems. The grants are administered through the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program in Massachusetts and Narragansett Bay Estuary Program in Rhode Island. The new grant program is part of the Southern New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program, a partnership of public and private groups working to protect, enhance, and restore southern New England waters. The following projects were funded in the Buzzards Bay region:

  • Buzzards Bay Coalition - $50,000 to develop sewer plans and create a legal entity to enable homes in the Cedar Point area to tie in to a neighborhood-scale private wastewater treatment facility, which will eliminate Title 5 systems and cesspools that are degrading water quality.
  • Buzzards Bay Coalition - $165,213 to study the release of nitrogen and phosphorus from cranberry bogs to better understand nutrient loadings.
  • Town of Fairhaven - $90,000 to evaluate several modifications to Fairhaven’s wastewater treatment processes that will reduce nitrogen concentrations at the Water Pollution Control Facility to a level that will meet new requirements.
  • Town of Falmouth - $250,000 to create and implement a grant incentive program to encourage homeowners to replace at least 20 conventional septic systems with nitrogen removing systems or eco toilets within 300 feet of West Falmouth Harbor, and to monitor their performance.
  • Town of Wareham, Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility - $75,000 to further reduce nitrogen discharges from the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility to the Wareham River estuary through the installation of state-of-the-art nitrogen monitoring equipment and process controls.
  • UMass Amherst - $98,346 to develop management practices to control phosphorus in the discharges of cranberry bog harvest floodwaters.

For more information on this effort in Buzzards Bay, see the Coastal Watershed Restoration Program Funding web page.

Climate Change Impacts on Stormwater Management - CZM and Horsley Witten Group, Inc., in partnership with Woods Hole Group, have begun work on a project examining climate change impacts on stormwater management in the coastal zone. Funded jointly by CZM and MassDEP, this project will examine how climate-mediated changes, such as increased storm frequency, coastal flooding, and sea level rise, will impact the ability to treat stormwater runoff. Risks to current and future stormwater management structures in the coastal zone will be assessed using sea level rise modeling products, a review of stormwater projects funded through the Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program, and on-site visits of constructed stormwater management systems. The final report, targeted for release in summer 2015, will contain a review of climate change impacts on stormwater management practices and include specific recommendations on how to select, design, operate, and maintain treatment systems to increase their resiliency in the face of these impacts—including retrofits to existing structures.

Statewide No Discharge Zone - In June, the approval of the Massachusetts statewide No Discharge Zone (NDZ) designation was announced. With this approval by EPA, commercial and recreational vessels are now prohibited from releasing sewage anywhere along the Massachusetts coast. NDZs protect water quality and aquatic life from pathogens, nutrients, and chemical products contained in discharged sewage—even in boat waste that has been treated—and also reduce the risk of human illness, making it safer to swim, boat, fish, and eat shellfish from protected waters. NDZs can also help protect shellfishing areas and reduce the growth of harmful algae that occurs due to high nutrient levels in sewage discharge. This designation capped years of extensive work by CZM and coastal communities and their partners to develop NDZ applications and ensure the necessary waste pumpout facilities are available for boaters to use. See the CZM No Discharge Zones website for more on the Massachusetts requirements and Pumpout Facilities for Boat Sewage Disposal in Coastal Massachusetts for pumpout locations.

COASTSWEEP 2014 - COASTSWEEP, the statewide annual beach cleanup sponsored by CZM, celebrated its 27th anniversary this year. Although final 2014 cleanup results are still pending, preliminary reports show that 2,818 volunteers cleaned more than 130 miles of coastline, river bank, marsh, seafloor, and lakeshore in Massachusetts—collecting approximately 9,610 pounds of debris from 91 sites. CZM sends out heartfelt thanks to the thousands of volunteers who turned out for COASTSWEEP, which is part of an international effort organized by Ocean Conservancy where participants from all over the world collect trash and other marine debris and record their findings. This information is used to help reduce future marine debris problems. While this year's cleanups are finished, you can get involved in future cleanups through the COASTSWEEP website, or stay tuned to marine debris issues year round on COASTSWEEP's Facebook page or by following the Twitter feed.

Other Habitat and Water Quality Program Activities - In 2014, CZM worked with the Water Resources Commission, MassDEP, the Division of Marine Fisheries, and EEA to draft comments on the operational plan for Taunton River Desalination Plant. CZM encouraged regular diver inspections of the plant’s protective screening to reduce the number of river herring becoming trapped at the plant. CZM also reviewed and provided comments to MassDEP on the first monitoring data received from the Swansea Water District’s desalination plant on the Palmer River, which began operating in 2013. CZM and other agencies had previously collaborated on ensuring that the plant intake was designed to minimize capture of fish larvae, especially those of American shad. CZM suggested diver inspection of the new intake system to ensure that the structure was constructed as designed. CZM collaborated with EEA agencies, wastewater engineers, and municipalities on a draft EEA policy covering alternative strategies for nitrogen management in the coastal zone. CZM anticipates that this policy will help communities, especially those on Cape Cod, evaluate the range of options for wastewater treatment and disposal.

Data and Information Management

Spatial Data for 2015 Ocean Plan - The spatial data presented in Volume 1 of the 2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan are now available in the Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System (MORIS), CZM’s online mapping tool. In MORIS, users can interactively view various data layers over different backdrops (aerial photographs, political boundaries, bathymetry, or other data including Google basemaps), create and share maps, and download the data for use in GIS. A stand-alone version of MORIS that contains the data in the ocean plan can be viewed on the MORIS: Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan Data web page. Spatial data from Volume 2 will be available in MORIS later this month.

Project/Federal Consistency Review

Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plans - In 2014, CZM conducted Massachusetts Environmental Policy Agency (MEPA) reviews for wastewater management plans for the towns of Falmouth and Mashpee. The Falmouth plan covered the watersheds of Little Pond, Great Pond, Green Pond, Bournes Pond, Eel Pond, and Waquoit Bay for a 20-year period, from 2015 to 2035. The primary plan recommendations include sewering the Lower Little Pond watershed, upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility in West Falmouth, widening Bournes Pond Inlet, and implementation of a variety of non-traditional wastewater and nitrogen management methods through pilot projects where future implementation of these technologies would be based upon their feasibility and performance through an adaptive management approach. The Mashpee plan includes recommendations for Mashpee’s wastewater management planning process to address the nitrogen Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) established for Popponesset Bay and Waquoit Bay’s eastern basin and to present the mitigation measures and implementation approach for the Town of Mashpee. These recommendations will be managed and implemented through the Mashpee Water and Sewer District and the town of Mashpee.

Salem Lateral Project - CZM reviewed the Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC project to construct a new 1.2 mile, 16-inch diameter natural gas pipeline from the existing HubLine pipeline in Beverly Harbor to a new metering and regulating station in support of the Salem Harbor Station, currently under construction. The new pipeline will begin at a new subsea tap connection with the existing Hubline pipeline in Beverly Harbor. The first 1,410-foot segment will be routed under the harbor using horizontal directional drilling (HDD) southwest to the industrial property at the end of Pierce Avenue currently operated as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility by National Grid. Once onshore, the pipeline will travel about 75 feet to the south across the National Grid property to the second HDD entry point. This portion of the line will extend from the LNG facility property to the south and southeast approximately 3,855 feet, resurfacing at the Salem Harbor Station. The HDD route will cross under Collins Cove, as well as an electric transmission line corridor, freshwater and coastal wetlands, a parking lot, three roadways, two empty lots, and a park. From the HDD exit hole at Salem Harbor Station, the pipeline will extend in a trench for approximately another 885 feet to the southeast across the Salem Harbor Station before ending at the proposed Salem Lateral metering and regulating station site.

Dredging and Beach Nourishment Projects - In 2014, CZM reviewed several dredging and/or beach nourishment proposals submitted for MEPA review. These projects include the town of Sandwich Town Neck Beach dune and beach restoration project, the Dead Neck/Sampson Island restoration project in Barnstable, and the continued review of the proposed Cedarville Beach Renourishment project in Plymouth. In addition to state-level project review, CZM performs federal consistency review—the review of federal projects (including those requiring federal permits or receiving federal money) to ensure that they meet state standards. Through this process, CZM issued federal consistency concurrences on projects including the West End Pond-Central Pond dredging project on Cuttyhunk, the federal navigation and beach nourishment project in Cohasset, the federal navigation project for Menemsha Creek in Aquinnah and Chilmark, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Bearskin Neck breakwater repair in Rockport, and the Nantucket Harbor federal navigation project. CZM also issued a federal consistency concurrence for the South Essex Sewerage District’s force main pipeline replacement project from Marblehead to Salem. This project involved dredging for the replacement of approximately 6,000 linear feet of pipe exhibiting severely deteriorated conditions under Salem Harbor. CZM concurrence was also issued for the expansion and/or creation of artificial reefs proposed by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries working in conjunction with the towns of Harwich and Yarmouth. CZM continues to assist Massport on the design of both eelgrass and salt marsh mitigation projects relating to the Logan Airport Runway Safety Improvement project to ensure that Massport complies with CZM's enforceable policies. CZM continues its participation on the technical advisory committee for the USACE Boston Harbor Deep Draft Navigational Improvement Project, which proposes port improvements including access to the Conley Terminal for container ships by deepening the harbor's existing 40-foot channels, turning basin, and anchorage. Massport would also deepen the berths in the Conley Terminal, the 40-foot lane of the Main Ship Channel above the Reserved Channel and below the Ted Williams Tunnel, Massport's Medford Street Terminal on the Mystic River, and the existing 38-foot channel in the Chelsea River. In October, on behalf of EEA, CZM was named the lead agency for the New Bedford Harbor Interim Federal Channel Dredging project, working closely with the city of New Bedford and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. A dredge contractor has been selected for the project and pre-dredging in-water activities started in late December 2014 and dredging is expected to start in early January. The project is estimated to dredge up to 114,000 cubic yards of material from the federal channel both inside and outside the hurricane barrier. The project will dredge the channel to a depth of 29 feet with allowed over-dredge to 30 feet, allowing deep-draft vessels to safely transit the channel into the newly constructed New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. Shoal areas within the channel out to approximately three miles south of the hurricane barrier will be dredged. All dredged material will be disposed within the Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) Cells constructed within the harbor. Currently the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

EPA NPDES Permits - As part of CZM's federal consistency review of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, concurrences were issued for 15 permits/renewals/modifications, including the town of Marshfield Wastewater Treatment Facility, Global South Terminal, Global Petroleum Corp Terminal, Global REVCO Terminal, Irving Oil Terminal, the Chelsea Sandwich Terminal, and Gulf Oil Limited Partnership. CZM also issued concurrences for the EPA Statewide Multi-sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Industrial Activity, the General Permit for Non-Contact Cooling Water Discharges, the Dewatering General Permit, and the General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems in Massachusetts.

Bridge Replacement Projects - CZM has worked closely with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to review bridge projects for consistency with CZM's enforceable policies. Projects reviewed during 2014 include the proposed replacement of the MBTA drawbridge in Gloucester. CZM will also be reviewing the MBTA repairs to the Beverly-Salem drawbridge.

Federal Agency Actions - CZM worked with BOEM to review and issue concurrence for the potential environmental impacts during Commercial Wind Lease Issuance and Site Assessment Activities in the proposed wind energy area south of Martha’s Vineyard. The proposed wind energy area covers more than 742,000 acres and is located approximately 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 13 nautical miles southwest of Nantucket. The area contains 117 whole lease blocks and 20 partial blocks with depths up to 60 meters. The final sale notice indicated that a commercial sale will be held on January 29.

Port and Harbor Planning

Local Planning Efforts - A number of communities have been working on existing or new harbor plans in 2014. On the North Shore, CZM continued to provide technical assistance to the city of Gloucester as it finalized the update of its 2009 Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP) and Designated Port Area (DPA) Master Plan. The updated plan, which continues to support the marine industrial focus of the harbor while adapting to the changing needs of the waterfront, was submitted to the EEA Secretary for review in August 2014, and an MHP decision (PDF, 2 MB) was issued in late December. Also at the request of the city of Gloucester, CZM reviewed the entire Gloucester Inner Harbor DPA to determine whether the boundary is consistent with state DPA policy. A final designation decision (PDF, 1 MB) was issued in April. CZM is also in the process of reviewing the entire boundary of the Beverly DPA to determine if it is consistent with state DPA policy. A report detailing the results of that effort is expected to be released in January 2015. In Boston Harbor, the city of Boston continues the process of developing an MHP for the Downtown Waterfront District from Long Wharf to the Moakley Bridge. A spring 2015 MHP submittal to EEA/CZM is anticipated. The city of Everett completed a harbor planning process for their Central Waterfront in 2013 and submitted the MHP to EEA for review and approval. In February, a final decision (PDF, 1 MB) was issued by EEA. On the South Shore, CZM participated in an interagency consultation meeting with representatives from the town of Plymouth regarding options for a potential waterfront redevelopment project. Issues and options identified during this consultation included public and pedestrian access to the waterfront, vehicle access to the waterfront and parking, shoreside construction alternatives and potential impacts to adjacent resource areas, and implications for climate change and anticipated sea level rise. CZM also continued to provide ongoing technical assistance to the Marshfield Waterways Committee, which is in the process of developing a local harbor plan. In the Cape Cod and Islands Region, CZM continues to work with Edgartown to update and renew the existing Edgartown MHP and expects a draft plan to be submitted and renewed in early 2015. CZM worked with the town of Chatham to renew the existing South Coastal Harbor MHP. The town has submitted the updated plan and implementation report to CZM for review and approval, and CZM anticipates approval by the EEA Secretary in early 2015. The new MHP will continue to serve as a planning tool to provide guidance to MassDEP with respect to Chapter 91 licensing of waterfront properties, and to help coordinate the efforts and actions of local committees and departments. In the South Coastal Region, CZM continued to participate in coordination meetings regarding dredging and port improvement activities underway in the New Bedford/Fairhaven Harbor. Recently, CZM activities have shifted to assistance with implementation. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of March. Also, the current New Bedford/Fairhaven Municipal Harbor Plan is scheduled to expire this coming June. The two municipalities are currently evaluating whether to seek an extension of the MHP or to initiate a new harbor planning process. For more information about CZM’s harbor planning efforts, contact CZM’s Regional Coordinators.

Emergency Management

Storm Team Activations for 2014 - From January 2-3, the Commonwealth’s Coastal Storm Damage Assessment Team evaluated damages from a northeaster. Storm Team members observed beach and dune erosion and flooding, particularly in Salisbury, Newbury, Hull, Scituate, Marshfield, Plymouth, Sandwich, Dennis, Brewster, and on Nantucket. Erosion from the storm undermined houses, roads, seawalls, revetments, public parking areas, and utilities. Specific reports included extensive flooding of coastal neighborhoods, significant overwash of seawalls and other shoreline stabilization structures, damaged pavement on coastal roads and parking areas, exposed utility lines from erosion beneath damaged pavement, and destroyed decks and beach access stairs. Houses appeared to be significantly damaged as a result of coastal erosion and flooding in Newbury, Hull, Scituate, and Duxbury. More than 285 detailed reports were entered into the StormReporter online database, which helped inform decisions regarding state and federal resources needed to assist communities. The reports were also used by the National Weather Service to refine their forecasts during the event. On March 31 and April 2, eight members of the Storm Team were activated to conduct visual assessments of damage from a northeaster. There was some beach and dune erosion reported in Salisbury and on Plum Island, as well as beach and dune erosion, overwash of sediment onto roads and parking areas, and limited closure of a couple roads in Scituate and Plymouth. On November 2, CZM activated portions of the Storm Team to assess damage from a northeaster. More than 60 reports were submitted on the impact to communities north of Cape Ann, from Hull to Plymouth on the South Shore, from Sandwich to Dennis and in Chatham on Cape Cod, and on Nantucket. Impacts reported in these areas included widespread beach, dune, and bank erosion; widespread minor overwash over beaches, dunes, and seawalls; pockets of moderate overwash of barrier beaches in Scituate, Plymouth, and Sandwich; erosion threatening dwellings in Newburyport, Newbury, Scituate, and Sandwich; impassable roads due to overwash and flooding in Hull, Scituate, and Plymouth; damage to several beach access structures; and flooding of parking lots in Dennis. A few members of the Storm Team were activated for storm events that affected smaller areas of the coast, including Hurricane Arthur on July 5-6 and northeasters on October 23 and December 9. All reports were entered into StormReporter, which informed response and recovery efforts by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and MassDEP. The information is also used by the National Weather Service to help refine their forecasting for future events.


CZ-Tips - These CZM web pages help people get to, protect, and enjoy the Commonwealth's coast. Below are summaries of new tips developed in 2014.

CZM on Flickr - In February, CZM launched its new Flickr page, which features photos that are available for public use—i.e., you can download them and use them in web and print publications (please credit the source). Check out photos from all seasons, coastal views of Massachusetts, the Blizzard of ’78, and sunsets over skylines, boats, buoys, and more. Check out CZM’s Flickr page, and if you like what you see, bookmark us. New photos are added regularly.

Follow CZM on Twitter - In April, CZM launched its new Twitter feed, which gives the latest information on CZM project updates, requests for proposals, job postings, comment opportunities, calendar items, and other time-sensitive notices, along with links to tools and information from the CZM website and other coastal zone management items of interest.

Underwater Archaeological Resources

Marine Archaeology Celebrated in October - October was Massachusetts Archaeology Month. In celebration, the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources (BUAR) participated in several events. BUAR Director Vic Mastone gave a lecture, Finding the First Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse: “I shall…die in the performance of my duty, at the Nantasket Beach Resort in Hull. The lecture was part of a series in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Hull Lifesaving Museum, and the Friends of the Hull Public Library. BUAR also participated in the Archaeological Institute of America’s Archaeology Fair at the Boston Museum of Science. BUAR activities included participation in a mock “dig” of a shipwreck and exhibits. At the Fair, Victor was assisted by interns Mark Agostini and Leland Crawford, and his wife Sharon. Lastly, the BUAR Director gave a lecture, Underwater Archaeology: 17th Century Nipmuc Mishoonahs in Lake Quinsigamond, at the R.S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology (Phillips Academy) in Andover.

Field Investigations - In 2014, BUAR Director Vic Mastone undertook preliminary field investigations on several undocumented shoreline shipwreck sites, including one at Coffins Beach in Gloucester, which is proving very interesting. This site was reported to BUAR by local resident, Adam Ricciardiello. A team of volunteers under the BUAR Director—including BUAR member Graham McKay (Lowell’s Boat Shop), intern Leland Crawford, marine archaeologist David Robinson and his sons, maritime archaeologist Matt Lawrence (Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary), Jude Seminara (Cape Ann Museum), local resident Mark Hirsh, and local boat building authority Harold Burnham—have been conducting preliminary investigations of an anonymous small shipwreck site on Coffins Beach. Based on the size and tight spacing of the frames, lack of iron fittings, and basic shape of vessel’s outline, they are beginning to believe they may have an early vernacular style vessel known as “Chebacco boat,” possibly dating to the eighteenth century. They found some small fragments of coral among the ballast stones. They plan to return next spring, but will continue to monitor the site and conduct archival research over the next few months.

Archaeological Interns - Assistance provided by interns was significant and very helpful to BUAR in 2014. Mark Agostini and Chelsea Bothen, both Bachelor of Arts, University of Vermont, continued as unpaid post-graduate research associates and worked on a variety of field and curation projects. Leland Crawford, Bachelor of Arts, University of California at Berkeley, and graduate work at Columbia University, joined BUAR as an unpaid research fellow and is working on a variety of projects including assisting in field investigations, archival research, and report writing. Thank you all for your assistance!

CZM Regional Offices

CZM works closely with communities to support local coastal management—an effort led by CZM’s Regional Coordinators, who serve as liaisons between federal and state programs and municipal authorities, coordinate regional initiatives, perform federal consistency review, and provide technical assistance. CZM’s regions are North Shore, Boston Harbor, South Shore, Cape Cod and Islands, and South Coastal. The 2014 accomplishments for each region are provided below.

North Shore (Salisbury to Revere) - CZM continued to provide direct technical assistance to communities on the North Shore on a variety of issues, particularly in the areas of port and resiliency planning. Coastal erosion, Designated Port Area redevelopment, and beach/dune best management practices continue to be issues of concern for North Shore communities, and CZM continues to respond to numerous requests for technical assistance on sea level rise adaptation issues as these communities begin planning for climate change. In May, CZM partnered with Maritime Gloucester and other local partners to coordinate an evening workshop designed to provide information and foster discussion about past, present, and potential future changes to Cape Ann area beaches and coastline. The workshop was very well attended, and CZM presented information on beach dynamics, available tools, and resources to assess and understand potential impacts of climate change on the local shoreline, and guidance on practical measures to enhance coastal resiliency. This workshop was envisioned to be the first in a series of community-wide conversations designed to develop Cape Ann’s collective capacity to create effective strategies and make informed decisions on the potential impacts of climate change. CZM continued to partner with the other state agency and nonprofit organizations of the Great Marsh Coalition to raise awareness of important issues facing the Great Marsh region. On November 13, the coalition held its third annual Great Marsh Symposium, Case Studies in Local Adaptation, which focused on issues related to climate change and sea level rise. This full-day workshop provided an opportunity for more than 130 citizens and local and state decision makers to discuss the ongoing efforts to understand the impacts of climate change on the Great Marsh and see what some agencies and communities are doing to address these impacts. The program featured many of the local resiliency projects funded by CZM’s Coastal Resiliency and Green Infrastructure grant programs. CZM is also working with the Great Marsh Resiliency Partnership to plan for implementing a set of resiliency projects in the Great Marsh Region that together were chosen for funding under the Hurricane Sandy Relief grant program. CZM also continues to coordinate the popular North Shore Regional Conservation Commission Network and listserv. In 2014, topics covered included Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act stormwater management regulations, enforcement of state and local wetlands protection requirements, coastal resiliency, and green infrastructure.

Boston Harbor (Winthrop to Weymouth) - CZM continued to provide technical assistance regarding the Boston Harbor Deep Draft Navigation Improvement Project, which will deepen the entrance channel, main ship channel, and other channels in Boston Harbor for larger ships. CZM has been an active member of the Boston Harbor Dredge Rock Reuse Working Group, which was formed to identify opportunities to reuse the rock that will be taken out of the harbor during the dredging project. CZM provided technical assistance to the city of Quincy and the city of Chelsea on the Designated Port Area Boundary Review Regulations. CZM also continued to provide technical assistance to the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Everett, and Quincy on issues relating to harbor planning and DPA planning. CZM continued to provide support for the Fort Point Channel Operations Board, on which CZM represents the Secretary of EEA. The operations board had another successful round of Watersheet Activation Grants in 2014. These grants are funded with monies required by MassDEP in the Chapter 91 License for Atlantic Wharf along the Fort Point Channel. Another grant round is anticipated for 2015. CZM also participated in the city of Boston’s Living with Water Design Charrette at the Architecture Boston Expo in South Boston. The charrette is part of the larger Living with Water International Design Competition that was partially funded through a from CZM’s Coastal Community Resilience grant program. The design competition will feature multi-expertise teams who will develop site-specific planning and design solutions that adapt to five feet of sea level rise at three sites in Boston. For more information see the Boston Living with Water website.

South Shore (Hingham to Plymouth) - CZM provided technical, grant writing, monitoring, and coordination assistance to a number of regionally significant wetland restoration, stewardship, and shoreline protection projects on the South Shore. These efforts included: assisting the town of Scituate and project partners with developing a Request for Proposals for the next phase of the Bound Brook Diadromous Fish Restoration Initiative, which will result in final engineering plans and permits for this initiative; assisting with the completion of CPR-funded stormwater design work in Hingham; installation and upgrade of vessel pumpout facilities in Plymouth; and completion of the Jones River Estuary Best Management Practices Design and Implementation Project: Phase II. CZM partnered with educators from the Marshfield Furnace Brook Middle School and the Coastal Advisory Committee to develop an innovative climate change and sea level rise symposium for Marshfield 8th grade students that provided an overview of the science of climate change, management options to address potential impacts, and a practical exercise to identify and prioritize mitigation, protection, and adaptation options for a model coastal community. CZM also participated in several deployments of the Storm Team to document and report on damage from coastal storm events using StormReporter. CZM participated in a two day National Weather Service sponsored wave run-up and flooding workshop that included an overview of agency initiatives associated with wave-associated flooding. To assist with this initiative, CZM worked with project partners to install high resolution water level data recorders to document wave-associated flooding at a pilot project area in Scituate to refine flooding models and improve forecast abilities. CZM continued ongoing assistance to the Hull Conservation Commission with beach profiling at Nantasket Beach. CZM continued partnering with the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program, MassDEP, and Conservation Agents from the towns of Norwell, Hull, and Weymouth to implement and facilitate the South Shore Conservation Commission Network. Lastly, CZM provided a presentation on coastal wetland restoration initiatives as part of the Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research speaker series.

Cape Cod and Islands (Bourne to Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Gosnold) - CZM worked closely with many of the 23 communities within the region, providing direct technical assistance on a variety of coastal issues, including coastal erosion and beach management, water quality monitoring, stormwater management, harbor planning, and dredging. CZM worked with Conservation Commissions throughout the region and continued to help coordinate the Cape and Islands Conservation Commission Network. In addition, CZM provided project-specific technical assistance to Conservation Commissions in Chilmark, Tisbury, Gosnold, Harwich, Brewster, Truro, and Nantucket. CZM worked with the commercial vessel operators on the Cape and Islands to designate the final area of state waters as a No Discharge Zone in May. CZM helped the towns of Brewster, Sandwich, Provincetown, and Nantucket to apply for and secure grant funds from CZM’s Coastal Resilience and Green Infrastructure grant programs. These projects will help communities plan for and adapt to climate change and future sea level rise. CZM assisted in planning and coordinating the 2014 Cape Coastal Conference in Barnstable. Finally, CZM continues to serve on various boards and committees, including the Barnstable County Dredge Advisory Board and Pleasant Bay Coastal Resource Workgroup, and as co-chair the Barnstable County Coastal Resource Committee.

South Coastal (Wareham to Seekonk) - CZM was an integral part of the Project Advisory Team with the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (NEP) on a Climate Change Vulnerability Project for New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Acushnet. This project evaluated the vulnerability of the municipalities’ wastewater infrastructure to various storm scenarios with current sea level as well as with several future sea level rise scenarios and provided the municipalities with a list of priority locations for improving coastal resiliency and wastewater infrastructure functionality following coastal storms. CZM expanded its coordination efforts with the Narragansett Bay NEP as a member of its Management Committee and continues its close coordination with the Buzzards Bay NEP. These efforts included providing assistance with the development of the Request for Responses (RFR) and selection criteria for the NEPs’ Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program, and also participation on the grant selection committees for both NEPs. CZM worked closely with the Buzzards Bay Coalition in the development of an RFR for the study of the Beach Avenue barrier beach and dune system in Westport, and in the review of draft and final reports for the project. This study was used to help persuade Westport of the value of a dune restoration project for this area and for seeking a CZM Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience grant for the project. Finally, CZM provided technical assistance to towns, groups, and individuals on a range of projects and issues including federal consistency permitting, dredge disposal, bacteria and nutrient loading to the Agawam River, CZM grant programs, CZM’s StormSmart Coasts website resources, coastal erosion, harbor planning, final Bird Island Roseate Tern Restoration Project designs, and other coastal issue.

National Estuary Programs

CZM hosts and administers two National Estuary Programs (NEPs)—the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program (MassBays). The Buzzards Bay NEP works to protect and restore water quality and living resources in Buzzards Bay and its watershed. MassBays works to protect and enhance the coastal health and heritage of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays. Each program’s highlights from 2014 are included below.

Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

Grants to Restore Water Quality in Southern New England - As noted above in the Coastal Water Quality section, nearly $730,000 in funding was awarded to help improve water quality in Buzzards Bay and its watershed as part of a broader EPA effort to address common water quality problems in the region. These new grants will be used to reduce nutrient pollution from fertilizers, septic systems, and other sources to both fresh and saltwater systems and are part of the Southern New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program, a partnership of public and private groups working to protect, enhance, and restore southern New England waters. The Massachusetts grants are administered through the Buzzards Bay NEP, who assisted EPA in administering and disbursing funds from this initiative to projects within the Buzzards Bay watershed. Grants in the Buzzards Bay region were awarded to the Buzzards Bay Coalition (two grants), the town of Fairhaven, the town of Falmouth, the town of Wareham and the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility, and UMass Amherst. For more information on this effort in Buzzards Bay, see the Coastal Watershed Restoration Program Funding web page.

Consolidation and Review of Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Baywatchers Data - The Buzzards Bay NEP has been working the with Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Coalition’s Science Advisory Committee to consolidate 22 years of citizen water quality monitoring data into a unified structured database for use by managers and researchers studying water quality trends in Buzzards bay embayments.

New Studies on Buzzards Bay Storm Smart and Climate Ready Website - The Buzzards Bay NEP posted new studies and information on its Storm Smart Planning and Climate Ready Assessments for Buzzards Bay website. The website was established in 2013 to consolidate information, data, and assessments undertaken by the Buzzards Bay NEP and others about the potential impacts of storms, shifting shorelines, rising sea levels, and changes in climate and precipitation on Buzzards Bay and its watershed. Through links to technical information on floodplain expansion, migrating salt marshes, king tides, and other topics, the website also offers potential strategies to adapt to climate change issues. The following Buzzards Bay NEP resources are available through the website:

  • Interactive floodplain maps that show the differences between new federal Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), older FIRMs, and Buzzards Bay NEP baseline maps.
  • Floodplain expansion maps that provide projections of how the floodplain may expand with sea level rise under 1-, 2-, and 4-foot scenarios, along with reports for each town quantifying the value of structures within those flood zones.
  • Interactive tidal elevation maps that show real-world elevations of mean high water.
  • A study of salt marsh expansion with sea level rise that will map the effect of migrating salt marshes and the high tide line under 1-, 2-, and 4-foot increases in sea level.
  • Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Water Quality Infrastructure, which presents a climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning study for water quality infrastructure in New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Acushnet that was completed by the Buzzards Bay NEP and SeaPlan in 2014. In addition to the online report provided on the website, SeaPlan characterizes the vulnerabilities of specific sites in the three municipalities through two online viewers: one depicts various hurricane and potential sea level rise scenarios and the other shows risk and damage predictions and cost estimates.

The website also offers links to the CZM’s StormSmart Coasts website, relevant documents and publications, weather-related websites, and hot topics for being storm smart and climate ready in Buzzards Bay.

Massachusetts Estuaries Project - The Buzzards Bay NEP continued to provide technical support to MassDEP in the review of Massachusetts Estuaries Program Total Maximum Daily Load reports and the data used in these reports.

Technical Assistance - The Buzzards Bay NEP continued to assist municipalities and other partners with development of local regulatory protection strategies, review of local projects, and design of stormwater treatment systems. The NEP provided more than 261 map products and other technical support to the Buzzards Bay Coalition and area land trusts in their efforts to protect important habitat and open space in Buzzards Bay, including help with the preparation of grant applications and materials for education and outreach. Other support included training and technical assistance to area conservation commission on wetland delineation, soils, wetland line review and flagging, and project plan review. The program hired and oversaw a contractor to prepare engineering designs to treat stormwater from Drift Road in the town of Westport that is contributing to shellfish bed closures in the Westport River.

Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program

Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) Revision Progress - In 2014, MassBays connected with local, state, and federal partners to revise its CCMP—every National Estuary Program’s blueprint for protecting and restoring coastal habitat. MassBays hosted local discussions in its five subregions; held information exchange meetings with state agencies; and consulted with its Management Committee to identify programmatic needs, data gaps, and opportunities for collaboration. MassBays will distribute a public review draft of the CCMP in spring 2015 and submit a final version to EPA in the summer.

MassBays and CZM Awarded $149,000 to Study Tide Gates - In August, NOAA awarded a $149,000 grant to CZM and MassBays to document the location and condition of tide gates within the 47 coastal embayments of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays. Tide gates that are not properly managed, or that are abandoned, can adversely affect both coastal ecosystems and neighboring infrastructure. Efforts to improve the situation are hindered by lack of up-to-date information about how many tide gates exist and their location, condition, and operating regime (if any). Funding from this NOAA competitive grant program will create a tide gate inventory that will provide the basis for determining potential and existing impacts on salt marsh systems and initiate, inform, and prioritize management for both ecological benefit and hazard mitigation. MassBays and CZM kicked off the project in October with the formation of an Advisory Group.

MassBays Annual Report - In June, MassBays released its first Annual Report, Partnering for Coastal Habitats - Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program (PDF, 28 MB). The report surveys MassBays work in 2013 and highlights the significant progress made in collaboration with numerous partners from Provincetown to Salisbury.

2014 Mass Bays Research and Planning Grants - In March, MassBays announced nearly $75,000 in federal grants to fund four projects designed to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s coastal habitats and water quality. These Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program’s Research and Planning Grants are funding efforts to restore degraded coastal ecosystems, better understand the impacts of sea level rise on coastal habitat, and inform policy decisions related to coastal resources. The 2014 awards went to:

  • Town of Essex - $20,000 to expand eelgrass transplanting efforts in Plum Island Sound and Essex Bay and address potential and observed impacts of invasive green crabs.
  • Friends of Herring River, Wellfleet/Truro - $20,000 to develop conceptual design options for the restoration of fish passage in the Upper Herring River watershed in Wellfleet.
  • Jones River Watershed Association, Kingston - $19,480 to develop a community-based method to monitor climate change related impacts on salt marsh in the Jones River.
  • Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries - $15,500 to continue research on the impacts of small docks and piers on salt marsh vegetation in Massachusetts.

MassBays Grants Program Map - Since 2011, the MassBays has awarded more than $450,000 for 26 projects under the Research and Planning Grant program. Now you can click on an interactive Google map from the grant program web page for easy access to results and final reports for all the projects.

Resources Available through an Online Interactive Map - MassBays announced the availability of more than 500 planning and research documents through an online interactive map. As part of MassBays CCMP update, UMass Boston's Urban Harbors Institute identified and categorized more than 500 documents produced around the region since 1996 according to five categories: water quality, estuarine habitat protection, invasive species, climate change, and continuity of estuarine habitat. These resources are now available on the MassBays website. The map will be updated regularly as research about MassBays' estuaries continues.

Gulf of Maine King Tides Photo Contest - In October, Gulf of Maine residents participated in the first-ever regional King Tides Photo Contest by capturing images of how the astronomical high tide affects coastal areas, including wharves, utilities, causeways, marshes, and beaches. King tides—which tides are the highest predicted tides that occur over the course of a year when the gravitational pull of the sun and moon reinforce each other—illustrate what may become the new tidal norm with sea level rise. This contest was a collaboration between organizations from the Gulf of Maine states and Canadian provinces. MassBays was the Massachusetts partner for the event. More than 150 entries of images of the exceptionally high tide that day at locations from Cape Cod Bay to Nova Scotia were received.

MassBays Green Infrastructure Stormwater Handbook and Workshops - In 2014, MassBays, with technical support from EPA, developed Coastal Stormwater Management through Green Infrastructure: A Handbook for Municipalities (PDF, 12 MB), a new handbook for departments of public works and planning, conservation commissions and agents, and nonprofits concerned about water quality in coastal ecosystems. The handbook outlines a step-by-step process to install infrastructure that utilizes natural processes to treat and manage runoff. This fall, MassBays held four public workshops to introduce the handbook.

Staff & People

In looking back over the year, CZM says goodbye to a long time team member, welcomes a new member of the coastal management team, and thanks our dedicated interns.

Coastal Water Quality Manager Jan Smith - In November, CZM Coastal Water Quality and Habitat Manager Jan Smith retired from state service. Jan had been with CZM for 28 years, also serving as Director of the MassBays National Estuary Program for nearly a decade, and as CZM’s Water Quality Specialist. Jan played a significant role in notable accomplishments for coastal and ocean management and stewardship, including pioneering innovative estuarine marsh assessment methods, developing the state’s first comprehensive Coastal Nonpoint Source Control Plan, working with regional partners on developing and implementing the MassBays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, and working on habitat restoration and monitoring projects. CZM thanks Jan for his 28 years of service and his extensive knowledge of coastal issues. CZM will miss the stories and pictures of his travels to seek out the rare birds of the world and his uncanny ability to dig up the latest EEA news. Good luck and enjoy your retirement Jan!

Coastal Resiliency Specialist - In August, CZM welcomed Patricia Bowie as the new Coastal Resiliency Specialist. Tricia joined the StormSmart Coasts staff and is providing local technical assistance on adaptation and resiliency planning, which includes the coordination of the Coastal Community Resilience and Green Infrastructure grant programs. In her previous position working with the Rising Community Reconstruction Program of New York’s coastal management program, Tricia provided valuable guidance and assistance to communities severely damaged by hurricanes Sandy, Irene, and Lee in their development of plans for safe, innovative, and resilient redevelopment. In addition, Tricia has worked with NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to map coastal areas at risk of flooding, storm surge, erosion, and sea level rise, as well as with state agencies and local stakeholders to identify vulnerabilities and develop climate resilient strategies. Welcome aboard Tricia!

Internships - CZM welcomed the following interns to help with various projects through the summer and fall:

  • Coastal Ecology Summer Interns - CZM’s Coastal Water Quality and Habitat team was bolstered by the efforts of two ambitious interns this summer. Kathryn Hanrahan and Kylie Hasegawa assisted with a project to document invasive green crab (PDF, 353 KB) burrowing behavior in salt marshes (See the Mass Great Outdoors Blog post, Not from Around Here: Green Crabs, for details on this study.) In addition to getting muddy in the marsh, they also collected data on marine invasives at floating docks and piers. Kate received a Masters degree in Environmental Science at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, this December, and Kylie has begun her junior year at Boston College pursuing a Bachelors degree with a concentration in Environmental Geoscience. Thanks Kate and Kylie!
  • Seafloor Mapping Intern - Max Hsu joined CZM for the summer to help with the seafloor mapping program. Max analyzed 5,758 seafloor photos and determined the percent shell habitat in each one. Max’s work satisfied the internship component of his senior Practicum class at Suffolk University.
  • MassBays Intern - This summer, MassBays was fortunate to have Sarah Stanley on board as an intern. A graduate in Environmental and Conservation Biology from Clark University, Sarah provided support to a number of projects. Sarah developed an interactive online map that provides access to planning and research documents about the region from 1996 to the present. Sarah also provided support to the development of The Great Marsh Tour, helping install more than 75 Quick Response coded signs located in towns around the Great Marsh. This project was developed by former MassBays intern Josh Wrigley and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. Using smart phone applications, visitors can access short videos describing the environmental and cultural importance of New England's largest continuous salt marsh. Sarah continues to provide support to MassBays by assisting in preparatory work for the upcoming State of the Bays Symposium on April 15. Sarah is currently working for a Masters in Environmental Science and Policy at Clark University.
  • COASTSWEEP Intern - The 2014 COASTSWEEP Media and Social Marketing Intern Steven Pilis joined CZM after an internship in Development for the Rose Kennedy Greenway. His experiences there, combined with his environmental studies undergraduate degree from Suffolk University and personal commitment to lessening marine debris and environmental pollutants, made for a great fit. While at CZM, Steven put a face to beach cleanups and the effects of marine debris through informative Facebook and Twitter posts. Additionally, he helped recruit volunteers and catalogued all of the cleanup’s findings for the Ocean Conservancy’s data base. Steven is now getting his Master’s of Public Administration at Northeastern University.