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Winner of the 2011 Coastal America Partnership Award, the Eel River Headwaters Project used a process-based approach to holistically transform approximately 60-acres of former commercial cranberry farm into self-sustaining freshwater wetlands. A variety of partners supported the Town of Plymouth's multi-year effort to permanently protect the land, design and implement restoration activities, and provide public access and recreational opportunities.
Through a coordinated series of restoration actions, the project addressed a myriad of stressors limiting ecological potential, including barriers to fish and wildlife passage, altered hydrology and degraded wetland soils (buried under a century of farm-applied sand), and simplified channel and floodplain structure. Specific actions included:
Monitoring, evaluation, and adaptive management are in progress. This ‘first-of-its-kind’ restoration of a former cranberry farm provides guidance and lessons for 100s of acres of other wetland restoration projects now in progress in southeastern Massachusetts.