About the project
This project is aimed at reducing the impact of aquatic barriers in the Great Marsh to enhance its ecological health and function. Many of the barrier structures have aged past their design life and are in need of replacement or removal, while others were not designed to effectively allow wildlife passage or to manage high flows associated with extreme weather events. The recently completed Great Marsh Barriers Assessment provides a comprehensive regional assessment of barriers to streamflow and tidal exchange. The Ipswich River Watershed Association (IRWA) worked with communities to identify priority barrier mitigation projects and bring them a step closer to on-the-ground restoration.
Implementation plans were developed for 27 sites in the Towns of Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Essex and Gloucester. The project aligend with the MassBays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) goal of "addressing the environmental challenges of coastal habitat degradation and discontinuity caused by barriers to streamflow and tidal flushing."
The site-specific implementation plans focus on furthering progress on head-of-tide dam removal and fishway upgrades as well as freshwater and tidal road-stream crossing upgrades to aid animal passage and protection from flooding.
Progress has already been made on one of the 27 priority sites. The crossing on Apple Street, Essex was identified as a moderate priority in the Great Marsh Barriers Assessment based on infrastructure risk and ecological impact. Subsequently, during meetings with the Town of Essex, the Apple Street barrier was identified as high priority for the Town. Through assistance from IRWA, the Town of Essex received funding from the Division of Ecological Restoration's Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance Program for field data collection, engineering, and design, and permitting to replace the culvert to meeting MA Stream Crossing Standards.
A technical guidance "Great Marsh Barriers Mitigation" was prepared to aid other watershed groups and barrier owners in prioritizing barriers within their regions and targeting potential funding sources. A Barrier Mitigation workshop was held in Essex, MA which focused on lessons learned, and opportunities to implement the approach beyond the region.