Mass. Projects to Improve Health of 2 Bay Watersheds

By ecoRI News staff

Federal grant money, combined with municipal and private contributions, will be used to help improve ecosystem health in Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay.

The $97,828 federal grant is being matched by $99,112 to support the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program’s mission to protect, restore and enhance the region’s estuarine resources.

Healthy Estuaries grants are awarded by the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program through the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The following five grants were recently awarded:

Center for Coastal Studies ($31,986): Building on data collected during preliminary studies during the past few years, the center will conduct an extensive assessment of contaminants of emerging concern in Cape Cod Bay estuaries to evaluate ecological health risks and provide a more complete understanding of how land-use patterns affect water quality beyond nutrient contamination.

MIT Sea Grant College Program ($28,500): River herring is an iconic species in Massachusetts waterways, yet its ecology is still in many ways a mystery. Through this project, surveys will be conducted to identify specific river herring habitat preferences and resource use that will inform ongoing restoration efforts to convert cranberry bogs to natural wetland and restore fish passage in Fresh Pond in Plymouth.

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod Inc. ($15,010): In 2015, the association developed a comprehensive Cape-wide inventory of coastal restoration projects. In response to a need for coordination of restoration efforts, the organization established the Restoration Coordination Center to assist towns by providing coordination, project management, technical assistance and outreach to implement effective restoration projects. With this funding, the association will prioritize restoration projects and identify two top-priority projects to develop for planning and construction, including submission of proposals for funding.

Town of Braintree ($16,000): In partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the Fore River Watershed Association and private entities, the town is currently working on a project that will restore fish passage to the 180-acre Great Pond Reservation. This grant will provide funding to conduct comprehensive wetland delineation and develop a sediment management plan.

Town of Wellfleet ($8,640): The Mayo Creek estuary of Wellfleet Harbor was diked in 1909, resulting in extensive estuarine habitat destruction. Preliminary analyses suggest that tidal restoration is possible with appropriate culvert design, and the town’s Mayo Creek Restoration Committee will use an existing hydrodynamic tide-height model to assess various culvert configurations. Results will help pave next steps toward development of an appropriate culvert design and implementation that will eventually allow salt marsh recovery, protect structures, and permit gradual restoration of 20 acres of salt-marsh habitat in the center of Wellfleet.