Welcome to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) year-in-review edition of CZ-Mail, which highlights CZM accomplishments for 2020, provides news and information about our programs and regions, and discusses some notable achievements of our partners. CZM would like to thank all of the people and organizations that contribute their time, effort, expertise, 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 2021.
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Overview of 2020 at CZM
While 2020 presented challenges, CZM successfully completed a range of coastal management priorities—with helping coastal communities address climate change and protect water quality and habitat, as well as ocean planning, topping the list. In March, CZM staff began working remotely due to the COIVD-19 outbreak, shifting all meetings, webinars, and trainings to a virtual format and updating the website to provide details on the closure and contact information for constituents. In April, CZM successfully released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Requests for Responses for both the Coastal Resilience and Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) Grant programs, providing webinars and online content to support potential grant applicants. Also in April, CZM created an Online Ocean Education Resources for the COVID-19 School Closures page, a clearinghouse of curricula, educational games, inspirational videos, virtual field trips, live stream events, and other activities for students, parents, and teachers. In July, CZM launched a new mapping tool that displays the potential effects of sea level rise on marshes—known as the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) Viewer. In August, CZM awarded $500,000 through CZM’s Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program for five new, on-the-ground municipal stormwater projects that will reduce coastal water pollution and improve the health of coastal resources. Five CPR projects were also completed in 2020, representing $692,101 in CPR grant funding and more than $500,000 in match. In September, CZM announced $4 million in funding for 29 new Coastal Resilience Grant projects to reduce risks associated with coastal storms, flooding, erosion, and sea level rise. Also through the Coastal Resilience Grant program, 21 projects funded last year were completed in 2020, representing $2.4 million in grant funds and $800,000 in match. CZM continued to support the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, which awarded $11.1 million in new funding to communities state-wide to identify hazards and develop and implement strategies to improve resilience. By summer 2021, 77 of the 78 coastal cities and towns in Massachusetts are expected to have been designated as MVP communities. Other major CZM initiatives for 2020 focused on ocean planning, harbor planning, and offshore wind energy. CZM served as EEA’s lead on the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, completing the required five-year review of the plan in December. In addition, offshore wind planning to bring clean, renewable energy to the region’s residents continued with ongoing environmental reviews of several projects that will affect Massachusetts waters and shoreline. CZM also worked on harbor planning activities with several coastal communities this year, including the completion and approval of state-approved Municipal Harbor Plans in Cohasset and Lynn. In September, the Environmental Business Council of New England presented its James D.P. Farrell Award for Brownfields-Remediation Project of the Year award to CZM and 12 project partners for work on the redevelopment of the former Monsanto Chemical Company site on the Mystic River in Everett that is now Encore Boston Harbor. Finally, in December, CZM was treated to a Zoom presentation and discussion with local author and former CZM intern, Eric Jay Dolin. Eric’s most recent work, A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America’s Hurricanes, has been making headlines with its detailed account of our multi-century relationship with hurricanes and their impact on the history, economy, and the lives of millions of people (see CZ-Tip - Coastal Reading List 101 for details). Additional highlights of CZM’s 2020 efforts 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 2020 accomplishments for each CZM program area are listed below.
StormSmart Coasts - Managing Erosion and Flooding
Coastal Resilience Grant Awards - In September, CZM awarded more than $4 million in funding through the Coastal Resilience Grant Program to advance 29 local projects to reduce risks associated with coastal storms, flooding, erosion, and sea level rise. The FY 2021 grant awards are listed below. For additional details on these grant awards, see the EEA Press Release.
- Beverly - $58,340 to assess the feasibility and develop conceptual designs for nature-based improvements at Obear Park to withstand impacts from flooding, erosion, and sea level rise.
- Beverly - $135,445 to conduct a vulnerability and feasibility assessment of the Beverly Pump Station on Water Street to address short- and long-term risks of flooding and sea level rise.
- Boston - $300,000 to analyze site conditions and develop implementable design options to protect the East Boston waterfront and community from sea level rise and coastal storm events.
- Braintree - $102,329 to complete environmental permitting and develop final construction drawings and bid documents for a series of green infrastructure designs to mitigate erosion and flooding at Watson Park.
- Chatham - $114,262 to undertake an alternatives analysis for mitigating severe coastal erosion and shoaling affecting the viability of Stage Harbor and develop strategies that address existing and future climate change concerns over the next 10-20 years.
- Chatham, on behalf of the Pleasant Bay Alliance - $75,000 to advance the conceptual design and initiate environmental permitting for restoring and enhancing salt marsh along the southern bank of the tidal channel into Muddy Creek.
- Chelsea - $74,678 to assess site conditions, feasibility, and develop alternatives for improving the resilience of the Green Parcel located along Mill Creek to help remediate flooding and erosion and enhance public access to the waterfront.
- Duxbury Beach Reservation, Inc. - $152,278 to complete permitting for a series of nature-based measures that will provide flood and erosion control and improve the resilience of the barrier beach system.
- Edgartown - $43,349 to survey existing conditions and develop design plans to relocate an existing bathhouse, remove 150 feet of asphalt roadway off the coastal dune, restore the dune to natural conditions, and install a removable walkover structure over the restored dune at South Beach.
- Essex - $27,282 to develop design plans for elevating a low-lying section of Apple Street, which is vulnerable to flooding during coastal storm events.
- Essex County Greenbelt Association - $41,312 to conduct public outreach and assess infrastructure improvements and management options and produce a Climate Adaptation Management Plan for their headquarters at the Cox Reservation.
- Hull - $310,186 to finalize design plans and construct a dune restoration project with a new Americans with Disabilities Act accessible crossover ramp at A Street and Beach Avenue, restore non-permitted dune crossings, and install sand fencing and educational signage to encourage use of designated dune access points and prevent storm damages.
- Hull - $205,414 to complete permitting and develop final design plans for flood protection measures at the town’s wastewater treatment facility, including a combination of vegetated berms, flood gates, and flood barrier walls.
- Ipswich - $39,860 to finalize design plans for stabilizing an eroded section of coastal bank along the Ipswich River, located in downtown Ipswich near the County Street Bridge along a well-traveled trail adjacent to the river.
- Ipswich - $85,000 to continue to advance design plans and permitting for elevating a vulnerable portion of Argilla Road that crosses a salt marsh and stabilizing the side slopes of the roadway using nature-based techniques.
- Marion - $225,000 to design a new pump station at the existing Creek Road Pump Station site to reduce short- and long-term risks to storm surge and sea level rise.
- Marshfield and Duxbury - $210,922 to complete environmental permitting for beach and dune nourishment projects at several vulnerable coastal beaches along the towns’ east facing shoreline.
- Mass Audubon - $45,580 to develop a multi-media coastal climate resilience curriculum for middle school students.
- Mattapoisett - $74,981 to assess future flood risks from sea level rise and coastal storms and develop alternatives to improve the resilience of the Mattapoisett Neck Road causeway and a culvert crossing through a salt marsh under the southern portion of the road.
- New Bedford - $77,755 to prepare final design plans and contract documents for future construction of the West Rodney French Boulevard beach nourishment project.
- New Bedford Port Authority - $154,178 to assess the current conditions of municipally owned and managed piers in the New Bedford/Fairhaven Harbor and New Bedford’s South Terminal, evaluate adjacent utility and roadway connections, and develop recommendations for adapting the infrastructure to projected sea level rise and increased storm events.
- Oak Bluffs - $223,480 to map and develop spatial datasets of low-lying areas that serve as pathways for coastal waters to flow inland, and coordinate with the National Weather Service’s Coastal Flood Threat and Inundation Mapping website that provides real-time total water level forecasting.
- Orleans - $79,151 to complete design and permitting for the relocation of a 223-space parking lot, access road, and septic system at Nauset Beach.
- Plymouth - $142,151 to design and permit a mixed sediment (i.e., sand, gravel, and cobble) beach nourishment project along an eroded section of Long Beach, located north of the Day Parking Area.
- Provincetown - $248,470 to continue working with the towns of Truro, Wellfleet, and Eastham toward a regional approach to shoreline management for Eastern Cape Cod Bay.
- Salem - $62,825 to monitor and maintain the recently restored fringing salt marsh at Collins Cove and conduct public education.
- Save Popponesset Bay, Inc. - $426,632 to construct a dune restoration project on Popponesset Spit to improve storm damage protection and flood control for properties landward of the barrier beach around Popponesset Bay, enhance habitat for endangered species, and improve recreation.
- Tisbury - $111,022 to perform a detailed feasibility assessment and develop site-specific conceptual designs of recommended resilience strategies, including dune and beach nourishment and elevation of roadways, for the Vineyard Haven Harbor shoreline.
- Wareham - $233,720 to install an emergency sewer bypass at the Narrows Pump Station to allow the station to continue to serve critical infrastructure upstream of the station in the event of major equipment damage and debris impacts during storm events.
Completed Coastal Resilience Projects - The 21 projects listed below were completed this year with CZM support and Coastal Resilience Grant funding from FY 2020. See the CZM Grant Viewer for award amounts and links to additional information. More than 25% of the total cost of the resilience projects was matched using local cash and the time of municipal staff, watershed groups, and other partners.
- Braintree - Completed the design and advanced permitting of a coastal bank stabilization project at Watson Park.
- Chatham - Evaluated alternatives for reducing erosion along the mainland shoreline while improving habitat for threatened and endangered shorebirds. The project focused on augmenting the shoals and tidal flats north of Tern Island to naturally protect the mainland shoreline from wave impacts and erosion.
- Chatham, in partnership with the Pleasant Bay Alliance - Assessed salt marsh vulnerability in Pleasant Bay, developed a methodology for evaluating the suitability of potential approaches to prevent salt marsh loss, and prepared conceptual designs for restoring and enhancing salt marsh through nature-based approaches.
- Duxbury Beach Reservation, Inc. - Designed a comprehensive management approach and initiated permitting for activities that will increase resilience at vulnerable locations along Duxbury Beach.
- Eastham - Performed a vulnerability assessment of four critical, low-lying roadways to identify risks to public infrastructure and coastal resources located along the roadways and prioritized adaptation strategies with respect to future sea level rise and storm surge scenarios.
- Essex County Greenbelt Association - Conducted outreach with municipal partners in Gloucester and Essex on land conservation for flood storage and coastal resiliency.
- Gloucester - Conducted a feasibility assessment and prepared conceptual design alternatives for protecting the long-term function of the City’s primary wastewater treatment plant from current and future flooding.
- Hull - Designed and permitted a dune restoration project with an accessible crossover ramp at A Street and Beach Avenue that closely matches the adjacent dune configurations to reduce flooding while providing public access to the beach.
- Hull - Prepared design plans and permit applications for a combination of adaptation measures, including vegetated berms, flood gates, and low flood barrier walls to improve the resilience of the town’s wastewater treatment facility to flooding and sea level rise impacts.
- Ipswich and The Trustees of Reservations - Performed additional evaluations of adaptive roadway design alternatives that balance access, resiliency, and wetland health at Argilla Road and advanced a preferred alternative to permit-level plans.
- Kingston - Continued to refine and implement monitoring and maintenance for a recently constructed living shoreline project at Gray’s Beach, including assessing the health of vegetation, surveying dune and beach heights, and managing invasive species to help ensure the living shoreline project successfully gets established and buffers coastal storms.
- Marblehead - Assessed the vulnerability of municipally owned facilities and infrastructure in Marblehead Harbor to current and future flooding and sea level rise.
- Marshfield and Duxbury - Planned, designed, and began permitting activities for nourishment and dune enhancement projects at vulnerable coastal beaches along their east-facing shorelines.
- Mattapoisett - Completed planning and engineering design plans for the replacement of a vulnerable section of the Eel Pond sewer force main.
- Nantucket - Prepared conceptual design drawings for a project to stabilize and reduce wave impacts to a coastal bank at Sesachacha Pond along a vulnerable section of Polpis Road.
- Oak Bluffs - Studied the effect of tides, waves, storm surge, and sediment movement along the harbor shoreline and developed conceptual shore protection strategies to enhance the stability of the barrier beach system, reduce wave impacts in the harbor, and minimize coastal flooding impacts to areas surrounding the harbor over the next 50 years.
- Scituate - Created a 50-year vision for the coastline through a robust public participation process to help set the stage for development of a 10-year action strategy.
- Tisbury - Developed an understanding of flooding and sediment transport along the Vineyard Haven shoreline to support a detailed analysis of potential shoreline management strategies.
- The Trustees of Reservations - Used their coastal properties as case studies to evaluate flooding and erosion vulnerabilities and potential adaptation strategies for barrier beaches, coastal banks, and publicly accessible shorelines.
- Wareham - Developed final engineering plans and completed permitting of a third, lined equalization lagoon to provide additional required capacity of the Water Pollution Control Facility during extreme rain events to reduce the potential for overtopping and sewer overflow to the Agawam River.
- Wellfleet - Partnered with the adjacent towns of Provincetown, Truro, and Eastham to develop a comprehensive framework for managing approximately 35 miles of shoreline in a mutually beneficial manner.
StormSmart Coasts Outreach - Throughout 2020, CZM’s StormSmart Coasts Program provided local officials and other partners with information on erosion, flooding, coastal storm impacts, sea level rise, alternatives for mitigating erosion and storm damage, and local adaptation planning through a variety of in-person events and virtual meetings, including:
- Coastal Resilience Grants Information Sessions - Last spring, CZM held two virtual information sessions for municipal officials and nonprofit partners on funding and technical assistance available through CZM’s Coastal Resilience Grant Program. Participants learned about eligible activities, program priorities, best available coastal flood risk data, and funded success stories, and had an opportunity to get answers to help advance coastal resilience project ideas.
- MACC Conferences - In February, the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) held its Annual Environmental Conference in Worcester. The conference featured a Keynote address from EEA Secretary Theoharides. CZM conducted a workshop with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on reducing coastal hazards with nature-based infrastructure. At MACC’s Virtual Fall Conference in October, CZM led a workshop with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation on “Building Foundation Requirements in Coastal Dunes under the Wetlands Protection Act and the State Building Code.”
- Wicked High Tides Forum - The Museum of Science hosted a Wicked High Tides public forum in March with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Environmental Literacy Program. CZM participated in the forum as a table host to encourage participants to report observations of flooding using the MyCoast platform to inform understanding of sea level rise and strengthen local resilience efforts.
- Salem Flood Risk Meetings - In March and October, CZM participated in community meetings with Salem Sound Coastwatch and the National Park Service to discuss Salem’s flood risk, sea level rise, and opportunities for engagement in local planning and resilience efforts. The fall meeting featured a presentation by Woods Hole Group on the Massachusetts Coast Flood Risk Model.
- Restore America’s Estuaries 2020 Summit - CZM participated in the National Coastal and Estuarine Virtual Summit in September to promote coastal resilience efforts with local and regional partners primarily focused on the application of suitable living shoreline or nature-based approaches to address erosion, flooding, and sea level rise.
Regional Coastal Resilience Project - CZM has continued to collaborate on a NOAA-funded effort with other New England coastal programs, TNC, and the Northeast Regional Ocean Council to increase coastal resilience using nature-based approaches (PDF, 2 MB). CZM worked with municipal partners in 2020 to test and refine monitoring metrics and protocols at several sites in Massachusetts.
Climate Resilience Design Standards & Guidelines - In August, the Resilient Massachusetts Action Team (RMAT), led by EEA and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, released draft climate resilience design standards and guidelines for state projects and grant programs to address increases in sea level, storm surge, precipitation, and air temperature. CZM is a member of the RMAT and has been supporting this initiative.
Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Designations and Grant Awards - This fall, 15 additional coastal communities received Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program designations for completing planning activities that identified climate hazards and strategies to improve resilience. Currently, 97% of coastal communities are MVP designated. Upon completion of the planning process in 2021, 77 of the 78 coastal communities will have received MVP designation. Also, in September, EEA awarded MVP Action Grants to implement priority adaptation actions, and nine of these grants were awarded to coastal communities. CZM continues to support EEA’s administration of the MVP program and provide technical assistance to community planning and implementation projects. For more information on MVP planning and action awards in 2020, see the EEA Press Release.
Coastal Water Quality
Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Awards - In August, EEA announced $500,000 in funding through CZM’s Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program for projects to protect coastal water quality in Massachusetts. Since 1996, CPR has awarded over $12 million to coastal watershed communities. The five projects funded for FY 2021 are listed below. These grants are being matched by $177,577 from municipal sources, demonstrating a strong local commitment. For additional details on these awards, see the EEA Press Release. For more information on the CPR grant program, contact Cristina Kennedy at email@example.com.
- Arlington - $184,774.50 to construct multiple infiltration trenches to treat stormwater runoff entering the Mystic River watershed.
- Barnstable - $173,255.50 to construct stormwater green infrastructure to treat runoff entering the Three Bays watershed.
- Kingston - $73,000 to finalize the design of a system to treat nutrients and pathogens in stormwater runoff entering the Jones River watershed.
- Milton - $23,870 to finalize the design of stormwater infrastructure to treat nutrients and bacteria from road runoff entering Unquity Brook, part of the Neponset River watershed.
- Salem - $45,100 to develop a series of videos that demonstrate operation and maintenance of stormwater green infrastructure, such as rain gardens.
- Arlington - Finalized designs and constructed two bioretention basins and multiple infiltration trenches to treat stormwater runoff entering Alewife Brook, part of the Mystic River Watershed. In September, Wayne Chouinard, the Town Engineer for Arlington, received a 2020 Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for his efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in the Mystic River watershed, including the CPR grant work.
- Barnstable - Completed final designs and installed a green infrastructure project to treat stormwater runoff in the Three Bays watershed. As part of the larger Three Bays Project, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC), the Cotuit Library, and the Town of Barnstable partnered to create a series of informational videos on stormwater management. The first video in the series, Stormwater 101, recently won a first place "Nor'easter" video award at the 2020 Alliance for Community Media Northeast Video Festival. This video was created by Joshua Maloney with funding and support provided by the EPA Southeast New England Program Watershed grants program in collaboration with Restore America's Estuaries and CZM.
- Kingston - Finalized plans and completed permitting to retrofit existing stormwater green infrastructure to improve its resiliency to climate change impacts and treat pollutants entering the Jones River and Kingston Bay.
- Sandwich - Constructed porous pavement and sand filters to treat bacteria and nutrients in stormwater as part of a multi-year effort to improve water quality, protect coastal habitat, and open shellfish harvesting areas in Sandwich Harbor.
- Yarmouth - Constructed stormwater green infrastructure at a high priority location and developed final designs for a second site to target bacteria and nitrogen affecting water quality on Yarmouth’s southern coast.
COASTSWEEP 2020 - From August through November each year, thousands of people in Massachusetts volunteer for COASTSWEEP—the statewide beach cleanup sponsored by CZM that is part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. For COASTSWEEP 2020, the focus was safety first in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, and volunteers were encouraged to hold household cleanups or small cleanups with appropriate safety precautions. While the numbers are still coming in, preliminary reports show that since August, more than 680 volunteers scoured 137 miles of coastline to collect over 8,740 pounds of trash. CZM sends a heartfelt thanks to all volunteers who found a way to participate safely this year! CZM will start signups for the 2021 COASTSWEEP cleanups in June 2021. If you are interested in receiving information about volunteering or coordinating a cleanup, send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. And thank you to all of our volunteers throughout the years for your enthusiasm and commitment—stay safe, and we look forward to many years of COASTSWEEP to come!
Other Water Quality Program Activities - CZM worked on the following additional coastal water quality activities in 2020:
- Comprehensive Wastewater Management - CZM reviewed and commented on the Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plans for the City of Taunton and the Towns of Barnstable and Provincetown.
- MWRA Monitoring - CZM participated in an ad hoc committee to support the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) Outfall Monitoring Science Advisory Panel to evaluate which parts of the existing MWRA monitoring program could be replaced to address issues and contaminants of emerging concern. In support of this process, CZM’s Coastal and Marine Scientist worked with three other scientists to author a white paper titled “Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products: Recommendations to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Outfall Monitoring Science Advisory Panel.” The paper delineates the predominant pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) found in the marine environment, discusses their known and potential effects on marine biota, and provides recommendations for the MWRA to monitor, reduce, and study these PPCPs. For information, contact CZM Coastal and Marine Scientist, Todd Callaghan, at email@example.com.
- Grant for Water Quality Study in Salem Sound - In February, CZM and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership (MassBays) were awarded a $60,000 supplemental grant from EPA Region 1 to support water quality and benthic assessments in Salem Sound. With this additional funding, the team, which included CZM, MassBays, Salem Sound Coastwatch, and Salem State University, expanded on previous investigations on how nutrients in the Danvers River, Salem Harbor, Beverly Harbor, and Salem Sound might affect habitat conditions for bottom-dwelling macroinvertebrates (small worms, crustaceans, and clams). Results from this effort will promote better understanding of how nutrient reductions might improve environmental conditions in coastal waters.
- Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative - CZM participated in the Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative, a process to take public comment and produce a strategic plan for shellfish culture, harvest, and restoration, including the use of shellfish to improve water quality in estuaries. CZM reviewed and commented on the draft Assessment Report and the draft Scoping Report, both of which were sent to the Task Force to help frame the strategic plan.
Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan - As mandated by the Oceans Act of 2008, the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan must be reviewed at least once every five years. The process to review and update the 2015 ocean plan is currently underway. As part of this process, the Review of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan was developed by CZM and announced for review and public comment in the Environmental Monitor on November 12. The review assesses the entire 2015 ocean plan, as well as its key components, including the siting and management standards, delineation of marine coastal resources and maritime uses, and progress on the Science Framework. Additionally, this document includes a proposed framework for policy updates and priority science objectives to support implementation of the ocean plan over the next five years. Comments were received through December 14. Starting in early 2021, CZM will use the review document’s findings and public input to draft an ocean plan amendment. The process to update the ocean plan will require direction and input from the Ocean Advisory Council, the Science Advisory Council, and the six technical work groups, as well as a significant public engagement process. Be on the lookout for opportunities to engage in the development of the next Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan in 2021.
Ocean Advisory Commission and Science Advisory Council - To assist in the ocean plan review process, CZM convened the Ocean Science Advisory Council (SAC) on January 29 and May 26. At these meetings, the six technical work groups (Habitat, Fisheries, Sediment and Geology, Cultural Heritage and Recreational Uses, Transportation and Navigation, and Energy and Infrastructure), which were established to compile and provide expert advice on data for the ocean plan, presented their findings and recommendations for the next ocean plan. Input and advice provided by the SAC was incorporated into the work group reports and used to develop the scope for the next ocean plan update. On September 29, CZM hosted a joint meeting of the Ocean Advisory Commission (OAC) and the SAC. At this meeting, the draft of the Review of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan was presented, together with a draft scope for the ocean plan amendment process. During 2021, the OAC and SAC will be convened as needed to provide input on the ocean plan amendment.
Massachusetts Ocean Acidification Commission - On June 5, the Massachusetts Ocean Acidification Commission held its third meeting to address the rising acidity in Massachusetts coastal and ocean waters primarily caused by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and the discharge of pollutants. At this meeting, the commission unanimously agreed to convene four work groups comprised of commission members and subject matter experts. These work groups—marine and shellfish industry, monitoring and barrier beaches, policy and outreach, and scientific literature review—collected data, identify knowledge gaps, and meet independently to discuss and develop recommendations on ocean acidity mitigation. The 19 commission members include legislators, commercial fishermen, environmental groups, scientists, CZM Director Lisa Engler, and representatives from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and MassDEP. CZM’s role with the commission is instrumental in providing key information on planned monitoring efforts in Massachusetts. CZM Director Lisa Engler and CZM staff participated in meetings of the monitoring and barrier beaches work group in July and August and helped develop a list of policy recommendations. These recommendations, together with recommendations from the other three work groups, were presented to the commission at the fourth meeting on September 18. A final report, including findings and policy recommendations for the legislature to address ocean and coastal acidification in Massachusetts, will be prepared by January 2021. CZM also actively participates and supports regional efforts (e.g., the Northeast Coastal Acidification Network) that seek to investigate and address the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of coastal and ocean acidification.
Offshore Wind Updates - CZM continued environmental review of offshore wind, actively working on four projects in 2020. In May, CZM completed review of the Vineyard Wind I project, the first commercial offshore wind project in the United States. CZM also worked with DMF on the proposed Fisheries Monitoring Plan within the offshore windfarm (lease OCS-A 0501), and worked with DMF and MassDEP on a monitoring plan for the installation and operation of the offshore export cables, which would make landfall in Barnstable. In November, CZM, as a federal cooperating agency to BOEM’s NEPA process, reviewed the Vineyard Wind I Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), one of the last steps prior to the issuance of the Record of Decision on the project. At the same time, CZM began conversations with Vineyard Wind on the environmental studies necessary to support the Vineyard Wind II (Park City Wind) project, an 804-megawatt project to supply wind energy to Connecticut. Vineyard Wind II would be situated in the southern half of lease OCS-A 0501 and would also make landfall in Barnstable. CZM reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement of Orsted’s South Fork Wind Farm (lease OCS-A 0517), a 15-wind turbine project south of Westport that would make landfall on Long Island, New York. Lastly, CZM has been working with the proponents of Mayflower Wind, an 804-megawatt joint project of Shell and EDP Renewables, and the holder of the second Massachusetts offshore wind procurement (in October 2019). CZM has had initial discussions with Mayflower Wind and other state agencies about environmental data collection and permitting. Mayflower Wind has an oceanographic buoy at its lease site (OCS-A 0521) and is serving the data to the public via the NERACOOS buoy viewer.
Seafloor Mapping Initiative - In 2020, CZM and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) published Sea-Floor Sediment and Imagery Data Collected in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts, 2016 and 2017, a dataset of sediment samples and photographs of the seafloor collected from 76 sampling sites in Nantucket Sound, along with seafloor videos that were collected at 75 of the sites. The sediment data, photos, and videos will be used in conjunction with high-resolution geophysical data for upcoming maps of sedimentary environments and to validate acoustic remote sensing data. For more information on CZM/USGS seafloor work, see CZM’s Seafloor Mapping Program website and the USGS Geologic Mapping of the Seafloor Offshore of Massachusetts website, or contact Dan Sampson, GIS/Data Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report Released on the 2018 Rapid Assessment Survey - In July 2018, CZM and a team of scientific experts visited marinas from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, to Casco Bay, Maine, to observe, identify, and record native and invasive marine species found on floating docks and piers. These Rapid Assessment Surveys (RAS) focus on marine invertebrates and algae and are critical for detecting new species introductions and identifying regional trends. During the 2018 RAS, the sixth held since 2000, a total of 170 species were identified—including 27 introduced, 20 cryptogenic (native origin unknown), and 123 native species. See the Report on the 2018 Rapid Assessment Survey of Introduced, Cryptogenic, and Native Marine Species at New England Marinas: Massachusetts to Maine (PDF, 2 MB) for the final results of the 2018 RAS. Funding for the 2018 RAS was provided by CZM, the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, MassBays, and the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program. See CZM’s Marine Invasive Species Program website for more information on past surveys, as well as general information about marine invasive species.
Volunteer Monitoring of Marine Invasive Species - Every summer since 2006, citizen scientists have been on the hunt for marine invasive species at docks and rocky shorelines along the New England coast as part of the Marine Invasive Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC) coordinated by CZM. Last summer posed a major challenge for MIMIC given the uncertainties due to COVID-19. Despite the unprecedented hurdles, nearly all MIMIC partners were able to successfully and safely monitor sites from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, to Chebeague Island, Maine. Also, MIMIC added two new partners for 2020—the Center for Coastal Studies and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. See the iNaturalist Project Page to view species monitored, the MIMIC Story Map for monitoring data, and CZM’s Marine Invasive Species Program for additional information, or contact the MIMIC Program Coordinator, Cristina Kennedy, at email@example.com.
Mapping and Data Tools - CZM released a new mapping tool that depicts the potential effects of sea level rise on marshes. The Massachusetts Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) Viewer is an interactive, web-based mapping tool that displays the potential areal extent and distribution of coastal wetlands as they respond to four different sea level rise scenarios over time. Tidal marshes (i.e., salt marsh and freshwater and brackish marshes influenced by tides) rely on their ability to accumulate sediment and organic matter to build elevation. If sea level rises faster than a marsh can build elevation, it will eventually drown, becoming mud flat or open water. To examine this issue, CZM—in partnership with the Woods Hole Group, Marine Biological Laboratory, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), and MassDEP—applied SLAMM to coastal wetlands in Massachusetts. The SLAMM data provide insight into the effects of sea level rise on coastal wetlands, including possible scenarios for coastal wetland loss, conversion to other habitat types, and landward migration as rising sea levels flood upland areas. Funding support for this project was provided by EPA and NOAA.
In addition, CZM has begun a project with the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center to apply a vulnerability metric—the unvegetated-vegetated marsh ratio (UVVR)—to all salt marshes in Massachusetts. The UVVR metric is applied using remote sensing imagery to calculate the ratio of unvegetated areas (e.g., pools, pannes, and mudflats) to vegetated areas of the marsh. UVVR ratios are strongly correlated to critical factors for salt marsh resiliency (including net sediment budget, elevation, and tidal inundation factors), making the metric a powerful screening tool for identifying potentially vulnerable and resilient salt marshes. For more information, contact Marc Carullo, Coastal Geographic Information System (GIS) and Habitat Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Wetlands Updates - CZM continues to advance long-term efforts to collect critical data, review current scientific research, coordinate with stakeholders, and develop education and outreach products to improve understanding of the threats facing tidal marshes. As co-lead of the Massachusetts Ecological Climate Adaptation Network’s Salt Marsh Working Group, CZM, along with UMass Amherst, is working with scientists and managers to identify priority research needs surrounding salt marshes and climate change. CZM has recently been awarded a two-year Wetland Program Development Grant from EPA to continue the generation of long-term data sets at salt marsh sentinel sites (long-term monitoring stations) across Massachusetts and to conduct a best practice review of dredging operations and the interaction with salt marsh sediment availability. In addition, CZM conducted a needs assessment to understand data needs and management priorities of salt marshes now and into the future. The needs assessment was informed by interviews of state decision makers and managers and will be used to target CZM Habitat Program education and outreach efforts. For more information, contact Adrienne Pappal, Coastal Habitat and Water Quality Program Manager, at email@example.com.
Data and Information Management
CZM Grant Viewer 2020 Updates - The CZM Grant Viewer has been updated to include data for 2020. This online mapping tool allow users to explore grants awarded through CZM’s Coastal Resilience Grant Program and Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program, Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program grants and funding, and MassBays Healthy Estuaries Grants. The viewer’s interactive map can be used on mobile phones and tablets, as well as desktop computers. Points on the map are color coded by grant program and can be selected to view details on each grant award. Information can be sorted by grant program, category, and year.
Other Data and Information Management Program Activities - CZM’s Data Management/GIS Team had a busy 2020 working on a variety of projects, many of which occurred behind the scenes, including the Massachusetts SLAMM Viewer and the MassBays Ecosystem Delineation and Assessment (see the Coastal Habitat and MassBays sections of this edition for details). Other 2020 focus areas include:
- Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan - For much of 2020, the Data Management/GIS team was at work on the Review of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. The ocean plan is multifaceted with sections that address habitat, fisheries, transportation and navigation, recreation and cultural services, and energy and infrastructure. Data highlights include new maps that show the changing distribution of cetaceans in Massachusetts waters, including the critically engendered North Atlantic Right Whale; a change analysis that shows how the distribution and abundance of commercial fish species have changed over time with more warm-water fishes moving northward; a new sediment map that more accurately reflects the composition of the seafloor; and updates to maps showing vessel traffic, shipping lanes, and the rapid growth of offshore wind development. An updated version of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan will be released in 2021.
- Shipwreck Mapping - CZM, in coordination with the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, developed an inventory and GIS maps of all known shipwrecks in and adjacent to Massachusetts’s state waters. This resulting GIS database allows the Commonwealth’s Underwater Archaeologist to easily locate sites that may in danger of disruption by seabed construction. The goal is to expand this database and build an online mapping tool that allows the public to examine this aspect of the state’s cultural resources.
- Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System (MORIS) - MORIS continues to serve as CZM’s public-facing mapping tool that allows users to view, map, and download GIS data. During 2020, MORIS received nearly 80,000 hits! Due to the popularity of this tool and the outdated programming code that underlies it, CZM is in the early stages of working with Esri, a leader in mapping and analytics software, to create a new MORIS that continues to perform core functions with increased ease, speed, and uptime. Look for the new MORIS and new data in 2021.
- Coast Guide Online - Coast Guide Online, CZM’s portal to all 1,900+ sites along the Massachusetts coast that are owned by government agencies and nonprofits and open to the public, has been updated with new site photos, updated parcel information, and new sites. Coast Guide Online received nearly 2,500 views in 2020.
- EEA Support - Lastly, CZM has been working with the GIS leads throughout EEA to better support the more than 500 GIS users throughout the Secretariat. Activities include developing a training plan, establishing a centralized GIS platform for all EEA agencies, and creating a long-term plan to better support data-driven decision making, reduce siloed data, increase operational efficiency, and expand and improve user engagement.
Port and Harbor Planning
DPA Resilience Pilot Project - To promote and protect water-dependent-industrial uses, the Commonwealth has established 10 Designated Port Areas (DPAs). These DPAs have the necessary physical and operational features needed to support businesses that require close proximity to coastal waters—such as commercial fishing, shipping, offshore wind energy facilities, and other vessel-related activities associated with water-borne commerce—as well as to support manufacturing, processing, and production activities that require marine transportation or the withdrawal or discharge of large volumes of water. To help enhance these DPAs, CZM initiated the DPA Resilience Pilot Project with Arcadis, Inc. This project will identify water-dependent industrial uses in the Chelsea Creek and Gloucester Inner Harbor DPAs that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and develop specific, implementable, and adaptive resilience solutions to support the water-dependent industrial users in these areas. The pilot project, which will conclude in 2021, will also develop a catalog of design guidelines and best practices for water-dependent industrial uses to ensure their continued operations.
Local Planning Efforts - A number of communities continued to develop harbor management plans in 2020, as summarized by region below. For more information about CZM’s harbor planning efforts, contact the CZM Regional Coordinators.
- North Shore - The EEA Secretary issued the Decision on the City of Lynn’s Request for Renewal of the Lynn Municipal Harbor Plan and Designated Port Area Master Plan Pursuant to 301 CMR 23.00 (PDF, 624 KB) in November. CZM provided extensive technical assistance in the development of the Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP), which builds on prior planning initiatives to create a mixed-use district along the waterfront while ensuring that open spaces are appealing and accessible to all members of the public. The DPA Master Plan details a strategy to preserve and enhance the capacity of the DPA to accommodate and prevent displacement of water-dependent industrial uses. CZM continued to support the ongoing development of the Salem MHP and DPA Master Plan for Salem Harbor, which received funding from the Seaport Economic Council (SEC) and technical assistance from CZM and MassDEP. For more information on this planning process, see CZM’s Notice to Proceed (PDF, 363 KB), issued in August. CZM continued to work on preliminary preparations for an update of the 2014 Gloucester Harbor MHP and DPA Master Plan, also funded by SEC.
- Boston Harbor - CZM supported the on-going development of an MHP and DPA Master Plan for the Chelsea Creek waterfront by the City of Chelsea, which received funding from SEC and technical assistance from CZM and MassDEP. For more information on this planning process, see CZM’s Notice to Proceed (PDF, 2 MB) issued in June 2018. In addition, the EEA Secretary issued an expanded scope for the final Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park Master Plan Update based on the recommendations of an advisory committee co-chaired by CZM and MassDEP. This Marine Industrial Park Master Plan will advance the continued growth of water-dependent industry in the South Boston DPA. CZM accepted the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s request to review the boundary of the East Boston DPA, which will continue in 2021.
- South Shore - CZM provided on-going technical assistance to Cohasset in the development of a Cohasset MHP, which was funded through an $80,000 grant from SEC. The MHP encompasses the waterfront area from Howard Gleason Road, Margin Street, Border Street, and Otis Street, including the waters of Cohasset Harbor, Cohasset Cove, and Bailey Creek, and builds on prior planning initiatives for the area, including the 1980 Harbor Plan and the Town of Cohasset Community Resiliency Building workshop. In November, the EEA Secretary issued the Decision (PDF, 618 KB), which provides guidance on implementation and contains specific requirements to improve public access and reduce building heights along portions of the harbor.
- Cape Cod and Islands - CZM continued to work with representatives from Nantucket to assist in efforts to update the Nantucket and Madaket Harbors Action Plan. Due to impacts from the COVID-19, this planning effort has been delayed, and the town has requested a 12-month extension of the existing plan.
- South Coastal - CZM worked closely with New Bedford and Fairhaven on the process, development, review and final Secretary’s Decision (PDF, 346 KB) on an MHP Clarification request to their existing joint MHP originally approved on June 14, 2010. The MHP Clarification focused on Potential Navigational Dredging Areas and Waterfront Development Shoreline Facilities that may be considered for expedited permitting through the State Enhanced Remedy permitting process. The Clarification was approved on August 6. CZM also worked with New Bedford and Fairhaven on a sixth, one-year extension of their joint state-approved MHP, which is now scheduled to expire on June 14, 2021. CZM worked with the New Bedford Port Authority on the development of a second phase of a sea level rise vulnerability analysis of the New Bedford/Fairhaven DPA municipal infrastructure. CZM, in its role as a member of the MassDEP State Enhanced Remedy Advisory Committee, continued working with the New Bedford Port Authority on the Confined Aquatic Disposal Cell #4 and Phase V navigational dredging projects. Planning, approval, and implementation of these dredging projects will continue throughout 2021. CZM provided information and guidance to the Town of Wareham regarding possible future harbor planning activities.
MEPA Review - The following are a sampling of projects that were reviewed by CZM under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) process:
- Great Marsh Restoration Project Phase II - CZM provided comments on the Expanded Environmental Notification Form (EENF) provided by The Trustees of Reservations for the activities affecting up to 132 acres at the Crane Reservation in Ipswich and 111 acres within the Crane Wildlife Refuge and adjoining Stavros Reservation in Essex. The goal of the project is to reverse the trend of salt marsh subsidence, re-establish and maintain high marsh habitat, support native obligate marsh species, such as the at-risk salt marsh sparrow, and improve coastal resiliency in the face of sea level rise. The ditch remediation technique involves harvesting marsh hay by hand-mowing swaths of marsh parallel to the ditches to be treated. The mown hay is loosely braided and placed to depths of 8-9 inches within the pre-selected ditches, then secured with twine and wood stakes to the ditch bottom. The stated goal of this technique is to slow down tidal flow within the ditches to allow sediment to settle out of the water column and create a substrate for the establishment of native salt marsh vegetation, particularly Spartina alterniflora. This ditch remediation strategy is proposed for 218 of the 332 ditches within the Ipswich site and for 225 of the 335 ditches within the Essex site. At the expanded location covered by the EENF, in addition to ditch remediation, a supplemental restoration technique identified as “micro‐runneling” is proposed to address targeted areas where more advanced subsidence has occurred. This process involves forming shallow, linear swales that are 4 to 6 inches deep and approximately 1.5-2.5 feet wide to restore drainage in areas that once contained natural channels. CZM coordinated closely with The Trustees and provided comments so that the project could successfully serve as a pilot for other salt marsh restoration projects and provide an understanding of where and when this approach may be transferable to other locations. CZM continues to work with The Trustees to develop the criteria to determine success of the pilot approach, as well as a written protocol for the identification of appropriate project sites, survey requirements for feature mapping, ditch and channel selection for remediation, pre- and post-monitoring needs, specific physical restoration methods, and likely maintenance and adaptive management needs.
- The Pinnacle at Central Wharf - CZM reviewed the Environmental Notification Form (ENF) for the proposed project to redevelop a 1.32-acre site in Boston by replacing a seven-story parking structure with two below-grade parking levels and ground floor retail space with a 600-foot tall, mixed-use structure and 28,673 square feet of open space. The structure would include 200 residential units (or approximately 284,600 square feet) over 18 floors; 538,000 square feet of office space on 22 floors; 42,000 square feet of facilities of public accommodation on the two lowest levels; and 1,100 parking spaces in a subsurface parking garage. The entire project site is filled tidelands within the planning area for the City of Boston’s Downtown Waterfront District Municipal Harbor Plan, and the majority of the project site is within the 500-year flood zone on Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Insurance Rate Map. CZM’s comments centered on requesting: information on how the project’s complies with the Secretary’s Decision for the City of Boston’s Downtown Waterfront District Municipal Harbor Plan, a detailed discussion of the project’s adherence to the city’s Design and Use Standards, details on coastal resilience and the potential impacts of the proposed project on future coastal floodwater flow and drainage patterns, and plans for a proposed living shoreline.
- Trouants Island Causeway Repair and Shoulder Stabilization - CZM completed its review of the ENF for the ongoing maintenance and repair activities to stabilize the deteriorating causeway that provides access to Trouants Island in Marshfield. This work includes roadway stabilization through the repair and expansion of riprap/revetments along the northern and southern shoulders of the roadway, installation of marine grade wood posts and curbing, and dredging of roadway overwash/washout material from salt marsh creeks. The project underwent after-the-fact MEPA review to address past emergency work that occurred in 2017-2018, along with ongoing emergency work. CZM requested additional information on the delineation of and impacts to jurisdictional resource areas, information to detail the scope and scale of work that was performed over time and under what approvals, details of the dredging methods, footprint, and impacts, the development of a maintenance plan, and mitigation for impacts.
- Eagle Neck Creek Salt Marsh Restoration - CZM commented on the EENF submitted to remove tidal restrictions to restore approximately 15.4 acres of degraded salt marsh and habitat within the Eagle Neck Creek in Truro. The proposed tasks include the installation of a new 8-foot by 8-foot culvert under Old County Road to restore tidal flow, which would enlarge the railroad berm opening to improve tidal flow and minimize scour. It also includes dredging the channel between Old County Road and the railroad berm to improve tidal flow (with the beneficial reuse of the dredge sediment for marsh enhancement adjacent to the railroad berm) and raising the elevation of Stick Bridge Road to minimize flooding from increased tidal elevations. Approximately 400 cubic yards of material dredged from Eagle Neck Creek will be placed in two areas of tidal flats within the lower Eagle Neck Creek system (immediately east of the railroad berm) and planted with salt marsh vegetation. The project is located within the Cape Cod National Seashore, and project partners include the Town of Truro, DER, the National Resources Conservation Service, and the Cape Cod National Seashore. CZM requested a more comprehensive monitoring plan to assess the overall effectiveness of the project to restore and enhance saltmarsh resources within the Eagle Neck Creek system, and asked for specific qualitative and quantitative goals and criteria, a detailed monitoring plan to assess these criteria over time, and detailed monitoring criteria for the areas where dredged sediments will be placed for salt marsh creation.
- Complex for Access to Exploration and Research (CWATER) - CZM commented on the ENF submitted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Falmouth for the reconstruction and redesign of the Iselin Marine Port Facility, including reconstruction of the existing pile-supported dock, bulkhead replacement, dredge activities, installation of a robotic vessel port, reconfiguration of the small boat slips, and construction of a new waterfront building. The site consists of approximately 2.8 acres of developed waterfront that serves as the homeport for WHOI’s fleet of research vessels. The dock includes both pile-supported and solid-fill bulkhead sections and provides a platform for both stationary and mobile equipment. The dock is also occupied by several buildings that provide interior space for vessel maintenance and support and for water-dependent marine research. These buildings include the Iselin Laboratory, Alvin High Bay, Smith Building Connector, and the Flume Building. CZM’s comments focused on the mapping of and potential impacts to nearby eelgrass resources and the design of the project elements to provide coastal resilience, including the dock, new waterfront building, Smith Building connector, and surrounding areas.
- Packer North Wharf Trust Barge, Gangway, Revetment, and Pier Improvements - CZM commented on the ENF for licensing a spud anchored barge, gangway, stone revetment reconstruction, and improvements to an existing solid-filled pier. The spud anchored barge is 40 feet wide, 290 feet long, and 10.5 feet deep and is used for berthing of up to 12 (six on either side) large fishing vessels (each approximately 90+ feet long). The revetment replacement includes removing trash and debris, reusing and repositioning existing stones where appropriate, and adding new 8- to 12-inch diameter stones along the face of the coastal bank. CZM worked with MassDEP to develop comments relating to the current ownership and licensing status of the entire site, ability of the barge to withstand high intensity storms, design of the coastal bank stabilization plan, and consistency of the project with the current New Bedford/Fairhaven Joint Municipal Harbor Plan.
- Town of Acushnet Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan Needs Analysis - CZM commented on the Needs Analysis Supplement/Final Recommended Plan/Single Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) to remove on-site wastewater disposal systems from six areas of the Town of Acushnet to provide resource protection where physical site conditions prohibit proper operation of on-site systems. The project will install sewer lines to homes using on-site systems in selected areas of Acushnet and connect these new sewer lines to existing sewer lines in New Bedford. Acushnet and New Bedford have an existing inter-municipal agreement that allows the connection of Acushnet homes to the New Bedford sewer collection system for wastewater transport and treatment at New Bedford’s existing Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). The sewer installation will be phased in over a 20-year period and will include construction of approximately 62 miles of additional sewer lines, and construction or upgrade of approximately eight pump stations. When completed at full build-out, the project will collect and send an additional 805,000 gallons per day to the New Bedford WWTF. Acushnet currently collects and sends approximately 185,000 gallons per day to the New Bedford WWTF. CZM requested additional information to show how the proposed design will be resilient in extreme and future storms and if it has been designed to consider future conditions, particularly sea level rise.
- Vineyard Wind II Connector - CZM completed its review of the ENF for the Vineyard Wind II Connector, which will deliver approximately 800 megawatts to the regional electrical grid from Park City Wind, a wind energy generation project located in the northern part of the Southern Wind Development Area (SWDA). The project proposes to install two, three-core offshore export cables connecting an offshore electrical service platform (ESP) to a landfall site onshore. The two offshore export cables will transition to six single-core onshore export cables in transition vaults at the landfall site, then continue underground within a buried concrete duct bank. Landfall will be made via horizontal directional drilling with the transition to the onshore cable occurring within the parking lot at Craigville Beach, a Town of Barnstable public beach. The onshore route will predominantly follow existing public roadways to the proposed onshore substation. A section of the route requires the cable to pass beneath the Centerville River, where a micro-tunneling process is proposed. The substation will step up voltage to enable the interconnection with the electrical grid at the existing Eversource 345-kilovolt West Barnstable Substation. Onshore project elements will be located entirely in Barnstable. Offshore elements of Vineyard Wind Connector II will largely use the Offshore Export Cable Corridor (OECC) developed for Vineyard Wind Connector I that was previously reviewed in MEPA, with the exception that the OECC has been widened by approximately 985 feet to the west, and along a segment through the Muskeget Channel area, it has also been widened by approximately 985 feet to the east. The typical width of the OECC is approximately 3,800 feet, with a range between approximately 3,100 to 5,100 feet. Within Massachusetts waters, the OECC will pass offshore through Edgartown, Nantucket, Barnstable, and possibly a corner of Mashpee before making landfall in Barnstable. The total length of the OECC in the SWDA to the landfall site is approximately 63 miles, with approximately 23 miles of the OECC located within state waters. Major elements of Park City Wind in the SWDA in federal waters will include wind turbine generators and foundations, ESPs and foundations, and inter-array cables. CZM provided comments regarding the consistency of the project with the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan; classification of the seafloor using the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification System; the timing, staging, and sequencing of the project installation to minimize impacts to all species of concern marine mammals, eelgrass, horseshoe crabs, squid, and piping plovers; coastal resiliency; potential impacts caused by laying the cable; and underwater archaeological resources. Comments requesting additional information on the development of a comprehensive monitoring plan, cumulative impacts, decommissioning, and mitigation were also provided. CZM will be conducting federal consistency review for this project.
- Amitié Submarine Cable System - CZM reviewed and commented on the SEIR submitted by Amitié to install a fiber-optic telecommunications submarine cable system linking the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The length of cable in U.S. waters is approximately 200 miles, of which approximately 29.4 miles will be placed in Massachusetts waters. The project would cross the municipalities of Rockport, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Beverly, Salem, Marblehead, Swampscott, and Lynn with a cable 1-1.5 inches in diameter at a target burial depth of four to six feet below the seafloor. The preferred landfall is at Lynn via an existing 0.8-mile horizontal directional drilling conduit that connects to a manhole in the median of the Lynnway/Nahant Road/Lynn Shore Drive traffic circle. CZM comments requested additional information on the monitoring of recovery to pre-construction seabed conditions, plans to import and place cover over the cable that mimics the surrounding seafloor to ensure that the cable will not be exposed during the lifetime of the project, the use of multi-beam bathymetry taken post-installation to better understand the residual impacts to the seafloor from this type of plowing activity, and consistency with the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan.
Federal Consistency Review - 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. In 2020, CZM reviewed and issued determinations on more than 90 projects. CZM issued federal consistency concurrences on projects including the East Chop Coastal Bank Repair project in Oak Bluffs, the Vineyard Wind Offshore Wind Farm in both state and federal waters, the Blue Stream Shellfish aquaculture project in Mattapoisett, the MBTA Gloucester Railroad Drawbridge project, and the Barnstable Harbor Entrance Channel and Blish Point Boat Ramp Access Channel dredging project. As part of CZM’s federal consistency review of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, concurrences were issued for permit renewals for the Towns of Rockport, Newburyport, Manchester-by-the-Sea, along with the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, the Massport Training facility in Boston, P.J. Keating in Acushnet, Clean Harbors in Braintree, and Harvard University in Cambridge. CZM, working with NOAA, reviewed and issued a concurrence for the Marine Debris Cleanup Project in Provincetown and Wellfleet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project that was proposed for the maintenance and repair of the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier was also found to be consistent, along with the erosion repair project situated at the Mashnee Dike in Bourne. CZM coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard to issue a concurrence for the U.S. Coast Guard Nobska Point Lighthouse Soil Remediation Project in Falmouth, which involved the removal and disposal of lead contaminated soils from the site. Permit modifications were reviewed and determined to still be consistent for the Port Norfolk maintenance dredging project in Boston, the MBTA Charlestown Bus Facility project, and the NPDES General Permits for Stormwater Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s).
2020 Navigational Dredging Grants Program - CZM coordinated with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development to complete the 2020 round of the Massachusetts Dredging Program, the Commonwealth’s first stand-alone grant program to offer focused funding for saltwater dredging on a competitive, annual basis. The goal of this program is to prepare coastal communities for success by investing in dredging projects that support the long-term strength and sustainability of the Commonwealth’s blue economy. Projects were evaluated based on readiness, direct economic impact, and local match. Awards for 2020 were made to Barnstable, Chatham, Dennis, and Tisbury. Awards totaled $1,254,700 and leveraged $1,454,700 in local funds. The projects will remove an estimated 90,000 cubic yards of material from nearly 25 acres of tidelands, supporting the maintenance of the Commonwealth’s navigational waterways. These projects will protect and/or expand the use of over 2,600 moorings and slips, the navigation of an estimated 144 commercial vessels, and the business activities of 34 private boatyards, marinas, yacht clubs, and other harbor-dependent enterprises.
Underwater Archaeological Resources
BUAR Membership - In August, Linda Santoro was appointed by State Archaeologist, Brona Simon, to serve on the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources (BUAR) as designee for the State Archaeologist’s ex officio membership on the Board. Linda is an archaeologist/preservation planner on the staff of the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Welcome aboard and thank you for your service to BUAR, Linda!
Maritime Heritage Presentations and Programs - In 2020, BUAR gave public and professional presentations on a variety of maritime heritage-related topics and participated in multiple meetings and programs throughout Massachusetts. Lecture topics included underwater archaeology, Massachusetts shipwrecks, southern New England’s submerged paleocultural landscapes, and the vulnerability of Massachusetts coastal cultural resources to coastal erosion exacerbated by sea level rise. In addition to presentations given to Massachusetts dive clubs (e.g., North Shore Frogmen) and free public lectures (e.g., East Regiment Beer Company in Salem), BUAR gave presentations during Massachusetts Archaeology Month as part of the R.S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology/Massachusetts Archaeological Society’s “Diggin’ In” national speaker series, to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students as part of the MIT Media Lab’s Open Ocean Seminar Series, and to volunteers and staff participating in the MassBays Monitoring Coordinators Network Webinar series. Presentations on underwater archaeology were also given to elementary and junior high school students as part of the Belmont School System’s After School Enrichment Collaborative and to high-school participants and their counselors involved in the Sea Scouts/SALTY (Seamanship and Leadership Training for Youths) Program. BUAR was a featured guest on the Connecticut State Archaeologist’s monthly online iCRV radio program “Archaeology in Connecticut,” which focused on underwater archaeological research from a regional perspective. BUAR also participated in on-site and remote meetings with representatives from the WHOI’s marine archaeological research staff to discuss opportunities for future collaboration in research, public education, and outreach.
Field Investigations - In 2020, BUAR undertook limited field investigations and provided technical expertise on several underwater and intertidal archaeological sites located in Ipswich, New Bedford, Plymouth, and Stellwagen Bank. The sites were situated in offshore, coastal, intertidal, and inland waters and included discoveries made by residents walking along the shore, as well as those reported by the staffs of The Trustees of Reservations and federal, state, and local agency representatives. The remains of two intertidal historical wooden shipwrecks were documented in 2020—an unidentified vessel that was exposed by a storm on the beach at Squamish Head in Plymouth and the Ada K. Damon, a well-known shipwreck on Steep Hill Beach on The Trustees of Reservations Crane Estate property in Ipswich.
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. The 2020 accomplishments for each CZM region are provided below.
North Shore (Salisbury to Revere) - Coastal erosion, redevelopment, and the impacts of climate change on the built and natural environment continue to be significant issues for North Shore communities. CZM provides extensive technical assistance to promote effective adaptation to sea level rise and to advance climate change planning. In the first half of 2020, CZM provided technical assistance and support for five Coastal Resilience grants on the North Shore. These included guidance to Gloucester on a feasibility and alternatives analysis of engineering solutions to ensure the uninterrupted service of its primary wastewater treatment plant from current and future flooding; assistance to Ipswich and The Trustees of Reservations to perform additional evaluations for a second phase of adaptive roadway design alternatives that balance access, resiliency, and wetland health while increasing road elevations at Argilla Road near Crane Beach; assistance to Marblehead with their assessment of the vulnerability of municipally owned facilities and infrastructure in Marblehead Harbor to current and future flood impacts; and work with Greenbelt on their outreach and education on land conservation and coastal resiliency with municipal partners in Essex and Gloucester. In addition, CZM worked with The Trustees on their Coastal Resilience Grant project, which used their coastal properties as case studies to evaluate flooding and erosion vulnerabilities and potential adaptation strategies for barrier beaches, coastal banks, and publicly accessible shorelines. These projects were completed by the end of June. CZM also worked with municipal officials to develop project ideas for the FY 2021 Coastal Resilience grant round—resulting in seven awards on the North Shore and one project to be shared across regional boundaries. These include: assistance with two City of Beverly projects to complete a feasibility assessment and conceptual designs for resilience improvements at Obear Park and a vulnerability assessment and feasibility study for a pump station on Water Street, support to the Town of Essex in the development of a design plan to elevate a low-lying road that serves as a critical alternative transportation route, technical assistance to Greenbelt as they assess infrastructure improvements and produce a climate adaptation management plan for their Cox Reservation headquarters, work with the Town of Ipswich to finalize design plans for a nature-based bank and river stabilization project on the Ipswich River, work with The Trustees and the Town of Ipswich on Phase 3 of their project to build climate resilience though adaptation of Argilla Road, and assistance to the City of Salem with monitoring and maintaining the restored salt marsh project at Collins Cove. CZM will also help with technical assistance on a Mass Audubon project to develop a digital coastal climate resilience curriculum for grades 5-8. CZM is helping to implement a pilot project to promote and enhance the climate resilience of two DPAs—Gloucester Inner Harbor and Chelsea Creek. CZM provided technical assistance as needed for Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Planning and Action Grants for the North Shore region. CZM continues to be actively involved in the Merrimack River Beach Alliance, providing technical assistance and regulatory guidance on coastal resilience in the region, particularly for beneficial reuse of dredge materials. CZM worked with partners from the Great Marsh Coalition to raise awareness of issues facing the Great Marsh and to improve the resilience of the marsh and its communities, including planning for a virtual event for early in 2021. CZM continues to partner with members of the Parker Ipswich Essex Rivers Restoration Partnership team (PIE Rivers) to work toward protection and increased awareness of the importance of these watersheds to the health and resilience of the Great Marsh, and in 2020, CZM served as the Chair of the PIE Rivers Steering Committee. Late in 2020, CZM began planning to re-establish regular meetings of the North Shore Regional Conservation Commission Network in partnership with the MassDEP Northeast Regional Office Circuit Rider. This network links more than 50 local community staff and commission members for collaboration and problem solving and provides timely information on coastal issues, training opportunities, and grant postings.
Boston Harbor (Winthrop to Weymouth) - In 2020, CZM supported multiple projects funded by several grant programs, including Coastal Resilience Grant projects in Boston, Braintree, and Chelsea, Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant projects in Arlington and Milton, and an MVP Grant project in Chelsea and Everett. The Town of Milton concluded its MVP planning process with support from CZM. CZM also provided technical assistance to Boston, Quincy, and Somerville on coastal wetlands and Boston and Chelsea on port and harbor planning issues, as both continue to develop plans for DPAs. A strong focus of the municipalities in this region, which CZM has been able to support financially and technically, is the resilience of critical open spaces, parks, and recreational facilities to climate change, such as the Curley Community Center in South Boston, Watson Park in Braintree, and Draw Seven Park in Somerville. CZM also serves on the steering committee for Phase II of the City of Boston’s Climate Ready East Boston and Charlestown planning initiative and represented EEA on the Fort Point Channel Operations Board, providing support for board efforts. The Operations Board conducted another successful round of Watersheet Activation Grants, which 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 2021.
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 this year. CZM continued to partner with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), MassBays, Mass Audubon, and municipal stakeholders to convene and facilitate quarterly meetings of a regional coastal resiliency informational sharing network to discuss local resiliency initiatives, identify needs for future activities, and discuss opportunities for inter-municipal and regional-scale efforts. Topics covered through the network meetings included ocean acidification and municipal legal issues for climate resilience, which addressed takings/negligence liability and duty to maintain municipal infrastructure. A working group meeting was also held to provide input on the scope for a MAPC initiative on resiliency-oriented local bylaws and regulations. CZM provided technical, coordination, and facilitation assistance for Coastal Resilience Grants awarded to the Duxbury Beach Reservation, Inc., Duxbury and Marshfield, Hull, Kingston, Scituate, and Plymouth. CZM coordinated and provided technical assistance to Kingston for a CPR-funded stormwater Best Management Practice (BMP) retrofit project that was successfully completed in June. Lastly, CZM continued ongoing investigations of post-restoration ecology of Straits Pond in Cohasset, Hingham, and Hull in partnership with the Hull Conservation Administrator and the Straits Pond Watershed Association. As part of this work, CZM participated in public informational webinars and helped to convene and facilitate an inter-agency Advisory Committee on potential adaptive management initiatives for the pond, which builds on the improvements to the pond’s ecology due to the 2010 tide gate and culvert enhancement.
Cape Cod and Islands (Bourne to Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Gosnold) - In 2020, CZM worked closely with many of the 23 communities within the region, providing direct technical assistance on a variety of coastal issues, including impacts from coastal flooding and implementation of measures to improve coastal resilience, coastal erosion and beach management, water quality monitoring, stormwater management, harbor planning, and dredging. CZM has been working with representatives from Chatham, Eastham, Edgartown, Mashpee, Oak Bluffs, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet to implement Coastal Resilience Grant projects funded in the FY 2021 grant round. CZM worked with Nantucket and Edgartown to assist in efforts to renew the Nantucket and Madaket Harbors Action Plan and the Edgartown Municipal Harbor Plan. CZM continued to serve on the Barnstable County Coastal Committee, which helps coordinate state, local, and county coastal management initiatives. CZM continued to serve as co-chair of the Barnstable County Coastal Management Committee and works closely with the Barnstable County Dredge Program (BCDP) as a liaison between the BCDP and state and federal permitting agencies. CZM worked directly with conservation commissions throughout the region and helped facilitate 10 meetings of the Cape and Islands Conservation Commission Network. CZM provided project-specific technical assistance to conservation commissions in the Towns of Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Edgartown, Falmouth, Harwich, Nantucket, Oak Bluffs, Provincetown, and Wellfleet. Lastly, CZM continued to serve on several boards and committees, including the Barnstable County Dredge Advisory Board and Pleasant Bay Coastal Resource Workgroup, and the WHOI SeaGrant Marine Advisory Group.
South Coastal (Wareham to Seekonk) - For this year, CZM worked closely with two South Coastal communities that received FY 2020 CZM Coastal Resilience Grants. Mattapoisett’s grant was for the planning and design of a replacement wastewater force-main along the Eel Pond Barrier Beach. This force-main carries wastewater from Mattapoisett’s sewer collection system to the Fairhaven Wastewater Treatment Facility. The Wareham grant was to design flow equalization basins at the town’s wastewater treatment facility to better handle increased flow during periods of high precipitation and elevated groundwater levels caused by climate change. The new equalization basins are currently under construction using municipal funding. CZM has begun scoping and contracting on five new Coastal Resilience Grants selected for funding in FY 2021 in the municipalities of Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, and Wareham. CZM participated in MVP Community Resilience Building Workshops in Fairhaven and Dartmouth. CZM is a regular participant on the Narragansett Bay National Estuary Program’s (NBEP) Steering Committee, the NBEP Vision 2032 Management Plan Revision Committee, and the NBEP municipal grant review and selection committee. CZM worked closely with Restore America’s Estuaries on the review and selection of projects throughout Southeast New England that received $1.8 million in funding from EPA’s Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants Program. CZM continues to work with the Buzzards Bay Coalition on the adequacy of data background collection efforts in Upper Buzzards Bay, which are a requirement under the Ocean Sanctuaries Act for potential expansion of a regional wastewater outfall/discharge in the Cape Cod Canal. CZM continues to work closely with the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (NEP), through participation on the Buzzards Bay NEP Steering Committee, municipal grant review and selection committee, and stormwater project consultant selection committee. CZM regularly attends meetings of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee (BBAC) to help facilitate CZM’s liaison function with coastal communities. Throughout the year, CZM provides technical assistance on state and federal grant programs including CZM’s Coastal Resilience and Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grants, EEA’s MVP Planning and Action Grants, and EPA’s SNEP Grants. CZM reviews all MEPA projects within the South Coastal Region, and where appropriate, provides comments on the projects to MEPA. CZM has begun working with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife as part of the Technical Working Group focusing on restoration of the Roseate Tern habitat on Ram Island located in the Town of Mattapoisett. CZM reviews selected coastal projects and provides project comments to state and federal permitting agencies and also provides technical assistance to municipalities and individuals on coastal issues within the region.
National Estuary Programs
CZM hosts and administers two National Estuary Programs—the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership (MassBays). The Buzzards Bay NEP works to protect and restore water quality and living resources in Buzzards Bay and its watershed. MassBays works to empower 50 coastal communities to protect, restore, and enhance coastal habitats in Ipswich Bay, Massachusetts Bay, and Cape Cod Bay. Each program’s highlights from 2020 are included below.
Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program
Grants Awarded for Healthy Coastal Ecosystems in Southeast New England - In August, Restore America’s Estuaries and EPA announced $1.8 million in funding to six local partnerships in Massachusetts through the Southeast New England Program Watershed Grants. SNEP supports partnerships to address water quality and coastal habitat issues in the region. The Buzzards Bay NEP is an advising SNEP partner, and CZM participates on the SNEP grant review committee, along with other state and federal agencies. The 2020 SNEP awardee in the Buzzards Bay watershed is:
- Buzzards Bay Coalition - $118,275 for the Multi-Community Collaboration to Reduce Nitrogen in Upper Buzzards Bay Project to complete engineering and other studies to expand the capacity and service area of the Wareham wastewater treatment plant.
For more information, see the EPA Press Release.
Local Stormwater Treatment Projects - In May, the Buzzards Bay NEP retained the Horsley Witten Group to prepare engineered designs and supporting calculations for a series of projects to treat stormwater runoff. The goal of the project was to develop construction-ready stormwater management plans for three critical drainage catchments that currently discharge untreated stormwater to Buzzards Bay. The sites were selected from 15 high priority catchments in Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, and Wareham where monitoring data and stormwater network information had been gathered through the Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative, there was potential interest from municipalities, and other factors. Six of these sites were selected for conceptual designs based on review by the Horsley Witten Group, the NEP, and town recommendations. In October, three sites were selected in Acushnet, Dartmouth, and Fairhaven. Permitted designs are expected by February 2021. The Buzzards Bay NEP intends to work with municipalities to secure funds to implement these final designs. In December, a fourth site was selected for the development of stormwater treatment plans by civil engineering students in the UMass Dartmouth Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. This work, funded through a SNEP-funded collaboration between the University and the NEP, will be completed in May 2021. For more information, including ongoing updates as the project progresses, see the Buzzards Bay NEP website.
Buzzards Bay Municipal Mini-Grant Program - In December, EEA announced $125,606 in federal grants for land protection, septic system tracking, and town bylaw amendments that will protect water quality and habitat in the Buzzards Bay watershed. The Municipal Mini-grants were awarded by the Buzzards Bay NEP through CZM with funding from SNEP. The six grants are being matched by over $203,000 in private and municipal contributions and in-kind services. The following grants were awarded:
- Acushnet - $15,000 to purchase and permanently protect several parcels of undeveloped forest land, for a total of 99 acres. This land is located in the headwaters region of Tripps Mill Brook—an important tributary to the Mattapoisett River, which is the primary source of drinking water for Acushnet and four surrounding towns.
- Carver - $8,500 to revise its existing Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) bylaw to better position the town to preserve land and encourage appropriate and balanced development.
- Carver - $20,946 to purchase and permanently protect two parcels of forested land totaling 32 acres. The properties are located over medium and high yield drinking water aquifers, lie along a tributary of Indian Brook in the Upper Weweantic River watershed, and abut existing conservation lands.
- Marion - $50,000 to protect more than 36 acres of land in the Aucoot Cove watershed through a combination of land acquisitions and conservation restrictions. Protection of these lands, which contain designated habitat for rare species, will build on a larger block of existing conservation land.
- Rochester - $20,946 to purchase and permanently protect 232 acres of land located within a large contiguous undeveloped forest area at the headwaters of the west branch of the Sippican River. The property includes Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, important state-designated habitat, and 65 acres of cranberry bogs.
- Westport - $10,214 to join the Barnstable County Department of Health and the Environment’s Innovative and Alternative Septic System Tracking Program. These innovative septic systems are designed to release significantly less nitrogen than conventional Title 5 septic systems, but are also more complex and require regular monitoring to ensure they are meeting established nitrogen standards.
For more information, see the EEA Press Release.
Buzzards Bay Targeted Grants - In September, with SNEP grant funding, the Buzzards Bay NEP initiated four new projects. The Buzzards Bay NEP will continue to support a study by the Ecosystem Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory to evaluate the feasibility of applying permeable reactive barrier technology, using wood chips as a carbon source, to reduce nitrogen inputs from advanced treated wastewater effluent under different controlled flow conditions. This work is being undertaken in partnership with the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility. The NEP is also supporting a study by the Woodwell Climate Research Center of Woods Hole to measure nitrogen inputs to Buzzards Bay from coastal rivers. In the third project, the Buzzards Bay NEP entered into partnership with UMass Dartmouth to fund both a senior studies project and a graduate student research project to develop stormwater treatment designs and conduct investigations of illicit connections and pollution sources in stormwater networks. In the fourth project, the Buzzards Bay Coalition is assisting the NEP in a Climate Vulnerability Assessment of the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. The Coalition will host meetings and workshops with key stakeholders, synthesize responses, and help develop new recommendations for management action in Buzzards Bay. Besides these projects, the NEP continued to support the Buzzards Bay Coalition's Baywatchers program with a $40,000 grant. All projects will continue through the fall of 2021.
Buzzards Bay Salt Marsh Study - Salt marshes in Buzzards Bay provide a vital role by providing habitat, regulating water quality, and stabilizing coastlines. In recent years, many coastal towns have experienced the degradation or loss of their salt marshes. To better understand and halt this trend, the Buzzards Bay NEP continues to support efforts by the Buzzards Bay Coalition and scientists at the Woodwell Climate Research Center to study salt marsh loss in Buzzards Bay. In a Buzzards Bay NEP/Buzzards Bay Coalition long-term study, historical loss of salt marshes is being documented by the NEP using aerial photographs, while the Buzzards Bay Coalition is documenting annual changes in marsh vegetation and elevation. In particular, the effort is focusing on how climate change, pollution, and changes in the abundance of certain crab species may be affecting salt marshes. In a second SNEP-funded study, scientists are looking at how use of runnels—constructed shallow drainage meanders—might promote revegetation where upper areas of salt marsh are dying off from standing water. In both studies, the Buzzards Bay NEP is providing GIS mapping analysis using recent and historical aerial photographs and LiDAR data. The NEP also installed elevation benchmarks, conducted elevation surveys using laser levelers and Geographical Positioning System (GPS) equipment, and provided training on the use of the equipment by NEP partners. The results of this work will help town officials and state and federal mangers develop possible mitigation strategies to protect and restore salt marshes. For more information, see the Salt Marsh Study web page.
Continued Support to the Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative - The Buzzards Bay NEP is a partner with the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) and eight participating municipalities on a SNEP grant to monitor stormwater discharges and map stormwater networks, particularly those contributing to shellfish beds closures. Despite limitations imposed by the COVID-19 closures and a summer without much rainfall, the project continued to meet milestones. MMA co-op student participants continued to map stormwater structures, sample discharges, and support municipalities in their MS4 efforts through individual contracts. The Buzzards Bay NEP provided technical oversight and continued data processing and analysis.
Video Series on Stormwater Discharges - In January, MMA received a MassDEP grant on behalf of the Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative to outfit a trailer for municipalities to use to conduct Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination investigations. The trailer is housed at MMA and is now available for any of the Stormwater Collaborative municipalities. The Buzzards Bay NEP was a partner on the grant, and directed the construction and equipment specifications. Hands-on training for town officials on how to use the trailer and its equipment has not been possible due to COVID-19. The Buzzards Bay NEP and MMA, with permission from MassDEP, developed a series of YouTube videos for training purposes. These videos provide information on some stormwater basics, considerations for MS4 permitting, GIS mapping techniques, and sampling protocols currently used in the ongoing monitoring program. For the video series, see the Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative YouTube channel. The Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative page has additional information about the collaborative, and these and other useful stormwater monitoring training videos are on the Collaborative’s Monitoring Discharges page.
Technical Assistance - The Buzzards Bay NEP continued to assist municipalities and other partners with GIS analysis, proposal development, review of local projects, and training and support for municipal stormwater permits (MS4) compliance. The NEP provided more than 675 map and GIS products to the Buzzards Bay Coalition, area land trusts, and municipalities in their efforts to protect important habitat and open space in Buzzards Bay. The Buzzards Bay NEP continues to work with the Buzzards Bay Coalition Science Advisory Committee and a team of scientists in Woods Hole to identify pressing issues related climate change, nitrogen and toxic pollution, and loss of wetlands habitat and living resources in Buzzards Bay.
CZM’s South Coastal Regional Office and Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program Offices Moved - In January, the CZM South Coastal Regional Office and the offices for the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program moved from Wareham to Mattapoisett. The new address is: 81-B County Road, Suite E, Mattapoisett, MA 02739. The new phone number is (774) 377-6009. However, due to COVID-19 the new office remains closed and staff are working from home.
Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership
MassBays Coastal Monitoring Circuit Rider Assists Monitoring Groups - In November 2019, MassBays applied funding from the EPA Exchange Network Project to bring on a Coastal Monitoring Circuit Rider. Jill Carr moved from DMF to help MassBays build capacity among community-based coastal watershed groups from Salisbury to Provincetown. Over the past year, Jill has hosted multiple training workshops and webinars, and provided hands-on assistance to groups developing a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP), designing monitoring programs, analyzing existing data, and communicating results to the community. Jill continues to work with individuals and groups via Zoom. Contact Jill at Jill.Carr@mass.gov, consider subscribing to the Monitoring Network e-newsletter, and be sure to check out the MassBays YouTube playlist of resources for monitoring coordinators.
MassBays Awards Healthy Estuaries Grants - In July, MassBays awarded four Healthy Estuaries Grants to support efforts to investigate and improve ecosystem health in Ipswich Bay, Massachusetts Bay, and Cape Cod Bay. MassBays provided $95,615 of EPA funding for the 18-month projects, which will be matched by nearly $200,000 in private contributions and in-kind services provided by the awardees. The 2020-2021 projects are:
- Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) - $28,083 to expand their existing water quality monitoring program to include measures of coastal and ocean acidification. This MassBays-funded effort will contribute to the Commonwealth’s initiative to assess and minimize impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish and other estuarine ecosystems.
- Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC) - $22,532 to re-establish MRWC’s monitoring program in the lower portions of the Merrimack River (monitoring sites in Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury). With MassBays funding, MRWC will collect data on water quality and bacteria to share with residents and inform management actions.
- Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) - $30,000 to conduct an inventory of environmental conditions in Belle Isle Marsh. The MassBays grant will fund the first steps toward developing comprehensive resource management plan for one of the last remaining substantial salt marshes in greater Boston.
- Salem Sound Coastwatch (SSCW) - $15,000 to investigate the impacts of docks and piers on seagrass in Salem Sound. (MassBays previously funded a similar study on the impact of docks on marsh grasses.) SSCW’s effort will ensure protection of an important fish habitat that is already under stress from pollution and climate change.
For more information, see the EEA Press Release.
Massachusetts Coastal Condition Assessment - This past summer, in spite of shifting to working from home, MassBays worked with MassDEP and Normandeau Associates to collect water and sediment samples from 15 locations along the entire Massachusetts coast from July through September. The project, which will continue for three more years at 75 additional monitoring locations, will produce data that will be used by MassDEP to assess whether coastal and estuarine water quality supports designated uses (see the MassDEP Water Quality Assessments page for details) and by MassBays to inform restoration efforts.
E-Newsletters - MassBays produces two e-newsletters, the MassBays e-newsletter and the Monitoring Coordinators Network e-newsletter. In 2020, readers learned about the outcomes of the 2018-2019 Healthy Estuaries Grant awards, the Massachusetts Coastal Condition Assessment, and MassBays plans for 2021. To subscribe, see the MassBays newsletter sign-up page.
MassBays and CZM Receive Grant Funding for Salem Sound Assessments - In February, MassBays and CZM were awarded a $60,000 supplemental grant from EPA Region 1 to support additional water quality and benthic assessments in Salem Sound. MassBays previously provided funding to Salem State University in 2012 and 2018 to carry out investigations to determine how nutrients in the water affect habitat conditions. With this additional funding, the team has expanded the assessment to evaluate the benthic community at the same monitoring sites, which will allow for a better understanding of how nutrient reductions might improve environmental conditions in coastal waters.
MassBays Launches Interactive Ecosystem Delineation and Assessment Map - In September, MassBays used data from its comprehensive Ecosystem Delineation and Assessment to populate an interactive Story Map, prepared by CZM’s GIS Team. The new tool draws from the most current data sets on everything from nearshore shellfishing areas to upland population density. The interactive Assessment Areas map can display specific data sets (such as bird nesting sites, mooring fields, and road crossings), allowing users to view intersecting resource uses and habitats in the 68 rocky shore, beach, and embayment locations mapped by MassBays for detailed assessment and planning purposes.
MassBays Presents: What’s in the Wrack? - As summer 2020 wrapped up, MassBays launched a new citizen science initiative in cooperation with City Nature Challenge—Boston Area to learn more about the creatures that live in and use the wrack—the detritus left by the waves as the tide recedes—on Massachusetts beaches. Anyone visiting the beach can join the project with the iNaturalist app, and data will be collected over the next year to inform future efforts to protect this important aspect of beach habitat.