Baker-Polito Administration Announces Grants for Water Protection and Habitat Restoration Projects

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $310,877 in
grants from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) to 10 projects which will
work to protect and restore rivers, watersheds, wildlife and aquatic habitats across
the Commonwealth.
«Our coasts, rivers, and wetlands make Massachusetts a beautiful place to live and
visit and these grants will continue to improve these incredible natural resources,»
said Governor Charlie Baker. «With the help of residents who purchase environmental
license plates from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, we are proud to invest in local
programs that are helping protect our precious water resources and wildlife.»
«These grants support the important work these groups do to help us steward and
protect environmental resources in communities across the Commonwealth,» said
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito «By communities and conservation partners
collaborating and working together with the Commonwealth, we can maintain and
protect our clean waters for generations to come.»
Since it was founded in 1988 as part of the Boston Harbor cleanup,
MET
has awarded more than $20 million in grants to organizations statewide that protect
and enhance the state’s water resources, from supporting water projects in
communities to protecting coastal habitats. Funding for this program comes from the
sale of the state’s three environmentally-themed specialty license plates: the Right
Whale Tail, the Leaping Brook Trout and the Blackstone Valley Mill.
«These grants will help to restore habitat, preserve endangered species, protect
public health and provide excellent learning opportunities,» said Energy and
Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. «I thank the over 40,000 motorists
who purchased environmental license plates for making these grants possible, and I
encourage everyone to consider buying one from the RMV to help us protect our
important natural resources.»
The grants will help support 10 projects in Bourne, Chatham, Dartmouth, Greenfield,
Groton, Harwich, Methuen, Provincetown, Sturbridge and Worcester.
The grants awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration include:
American Rivers (Sturbridge) – $38,750 was awarded to remove three consecutive dams
and replace a culvert on Hamant Brook in Sturbridge. Removal of these obsolete dams
will restore one mile of river to coldwater stream condition and reconnect the brook
with the Quinebaug River. The project will reduce the cost and liability of dam
ownership for the Town of Sturbridge and restore river habitat and water quality in
a town conservation area. Additionally, the project will improve parking and access
to a favorite conservation area in the town, including installation of educational
and trail kiosks. This award supports the dam removal and river restoration portion
of the project, which will be completed in the fall of 2016.
Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance (Chatham) – $10,000 was awarded to develop
a hands-on educational experience regarding the importance of aquaculture to clean
water and the feeding the community. Oysters and clams will be used as a point of
entry to discuss food, ecosystem health, ecology, the marine economy, history and
clean water and will create connections between the students and the marine
ecosystem. Through this program, students will learn about shellfish and clean water
through a hands-on field trip to the local shellfish hatchery where they will tour
the facility, learn to dig a clam and taste local shellfish.
Center for Coastal Studies (Provincetown) – $36,365 was awarded to investigate the
persistence of contaminants of emerging concern in oyster tissue. Cape Cod towns and
Barnstable County are considering growing and harvesting shellfish as a technique to
remove nitrogen in coastal waters from areas that are known to be compromised by
wastewater. Shellfish from these areas need an established depuration period before
harvest of these shellfish for public consumption. This effort will seek to
determine how long these pollutants persist in oysters and this will inform
development of an appropriate depuration period. This project will build on CCS’s
research previously funded by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust which documented
the presence of CECs in the coastal waters of Massachusetts and in shellfish grown
in Massachusetts’ waters.
Clean River Project (Methuen) – $40,000 was awarded to remove up to 20 motor
vehicles from the Merrimack River. These cars are leaching hazardous chemicals into
the water that serves as the drinking source to over 300,000 Massachusetts
residents. The Clean River Project has developed a system to safely remove the cars
without harming the environment. The project will include the use of customized
pontoon boats, a hydraulic lift, air bags, sonar and professional divers.
Coordination with State Police ensures that vehicles can be identified as reported
stolen or involved in investigations.
Connecticut River Watershed Council (Greenfield) -$40,512 was awarded to restore the
endangered brook floater freshwater mussel to suitable water bodies in
Massachusetts. The proponent will combine habitat assessments of the 4 streams with
known populations and selected target restoration locations; hatchery propagation;
and community involvement and education of the importance of freshwater mussel
conservation. More than 50 percent of freshwater mussels known to occur in the
Commonwealth are listed as endangered, threatened or special concern under the
Massachusetts Endangered Species Act but they provide valuable ecosystems services
such as maintaining water quality through constant water filtration. Mussel
propagation and reintroduction has been successful in Mid-Atlantic states but this
will be the first project of its kind in New England.
Harwich Conservation Trust (Harwich) – $40,000 was awarded to support the
comprehensive ecological restoration of 66 acres of former cranberry bogs and
adjacent lands in the Robert F. Smith Cold Brook Preserve. The project includes the
rehabilitation of more than 0.75 miles of stream channel and associated floodplain
as well as the restoration of habitat and fish passage for a number of species of
migratory fish and wildlife including the American eel. The proponent will remove
several water control structures associated with retired cranberry bogs, reconstruct
stream channel and flood plain, re-establish wetland hydrology in former peatlands
and remove barriers to fish migration at the head of tide.
Lloyd Center for the Environment (Dartmouth) -$20,000 was awarded to expand and
enhance the Climate Science Learning Project (CSLP), an interactive elementary
school science teaching model. This program serves low-income children and families
in Greater Fall River and Greater New Bedford schools whose students would not be
able to participate without external support. The program will introduce
interactive, web-based learning tools to provide access to information about the
effects of climate change on biodiversity.
Massachusetts Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (Worcester) – $25,900
was awarded for educational programming related to stormwater management and the use
of low-impact design stormwater installations. Recent improvements to the Board
Meadow Brook Sanctuary have included many stormwater management retrofits that
demonstrate that these projects can be cost-effective and attractive while removing
pollutants. MassAudubon will feature the site in tours, workshops, demonstrations,
and technical assistance to municipalities.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Bourne) – $40,000 has been awarded to continue
mapping benthic habitats in Buzzards Bay. The mapping and associated ecological
studies will enable the Office of Coastal Zone Management and fisheries agencies to
make management decisions and better understand the ecological importance of the
benthic community. This research will also engage students in «hands-on» applied
marine ecology onboard the Research Vessel Liberty in Buzzards Bay and in MMA
laboratory facilities.
Nashua River Watershed Association (Groton) – $19,350 was awarded to improve
conditions for habitat and for recreational paddlers on the Squannacook River. The
Squannacook River is designated an «Outstanding Resource Water,» and a central part
of the Squannacook ACEC, is prime habitat for endangered and special species of
concern, and is a premier paddling destination. No assessment of culverts has been
conducted in the subwatershed and excessive woody debris – though necessary for
habitat preservation – poses a safety threat to paddlers. The NRWA will assess
culverts to the River and Stream Crossing Standards and help prioritize upgrades for
local DPW and conservation commissions. NWRA will also facilitate the process of
thoughtfully clearing woody debris obstacles in the Squannacook River with citizens,
local officials and habitat experts to balance boating and habitat preservation
needs.

«The Massachusetts Maritime Academy plays a vital role in the environmental health
of the Commonwealth’s coasts and waterways,» said State Senator Vinny deMacedo
(R-Plymouth). «The investment by the Baker-Polito Administration in this institution
will not only protect the beauty and viability of our coasts, but it will provide
valuable educational opportunities for students at Mass Maritime.»

«I am pleased that the EEA has graciously provided these grant funds to Mass
Maritime, and am looking forward to seeing the Academy take advantage of this
opportunity,» said State Representative Randy Hunt (R-East Sandwich). «Members of
the Mass Maritime community, which includes many of my constituents, stand to
benefit tremendously from this grant.»

«I’m pleased Governor Baker and Secretary Beaton continue to value Buzzards Bay as a
critical natural resource in southeastern Massachusetts,» said State Representative
David T. Vieira (R-East Falmouth). «This award exemplifies that, and it also
reinforces the important role the Massachusetts Maritime Academy has in our region.»

«Restoring ecological systems for the protection of endangered species will provide
much needed balance to our rivers and streams for those species to flourish,» said
Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). «I thank the Baker Administration and
Secretary Beaton for their work on this very important grant.»

«I am grateful to the administration for their commitment to the environment,» said
State Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren). «Governor Baker has pledged to help
protect our natural resources and this grant award helps meet that pledge.»

«Congratulations to the Town of Sturbridge on being awarded these grant funds,» said
State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). «This project will not only save the town
money, but will restore important river habitats, revitalizing another great natural
resource for area residents to enjoy. I want to thank Governor Baker, Lieutenant
Governor Polito, and Secretary Beaton for their support of this project.»

«I am happy to see money raised through the purchase of environmental license plates
flowing back into western Massachusetts,» said State Representative Paul Mark
(D-Peru). «I am grateful to the administration and Secretary Beaton for remembering
how important a grant like this is to rivers and outdoor areas in our most rural
counties.»
MET, established by the Massachusetts Legislature as a state trust in 1988, is
governed by a nine-member board of trustees appointed by the Secretary of Energy and
Environmental Affairs.