State Environmental Officials Announce Federal Grant to Improve Ecology and Public Safety in the Deerfield River Watershed

BOSTON – December 12, 2016 – State environmental officials today announced that the
Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) was
awarded a $179,620 Forest and Rivers Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation (NFWF). The grant will enable DER to increase the pace of replacing
undersized culverts in the Deerfield River watershed, improving stream connectivity
and reducing roadway and flood hazards.

«This grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will help towns in the
Deerfield River watershed to vastly improve the network of undersized culverts in
the region and to protect critical cold water habitat,» said Energy and
Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. «This project demonstrates the kind
of practical approach to increase the resiliency of our infrastructure and wildlife
habitat that will support the state’s climate adaptation goals under Executive Order
569, and we look forward to working with municipalities to improve road
infrastructure and habitat conditions in cold water rivers.»

DER’s Stream Continuity Program helps municipalities replace undersized culverts
with better designed structures that meet ecological and public safety criteria,
ultimately resulting in improvements to stream connectivity and a reduction in
roadway and flood hazards.

The grant from NFWF will help DER continue to develop and deliver a culvert
engineering and design, permitting, and construction toolkit with associated
trainings to help municipal staff better design and build culverts that meet the
required Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards. The grant, in conjunction with
other DER funds, will immediately advance the design and/or construction of up to
six culverts in the Deerfield River watershed and in time will lead to many more
replacements.

«The Deerfield River watershed has some of the best cold water fisheries habitat in
the Commonwealth, and we are pleased to partner with the cities and towns in the
region to improve habitat for fish and wildlife and roadway infrastructure,» said
DFG Commissioner George Peterson.

The funding received from the federal government also builds upon the Baker-Polito
Administration’s strong leadership to mitigate and adapt to climate change by
improving the resiliency of our infrastructure and wildlife habitats. Earlier this
year, in a continued effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change, Governor Baker
signed an Executive
Order
which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate
change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth.

«This project is a win for fish and a win for the community,» said Amanda Bassow,
Northeastern Regional Director at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. «It is
terrific when we can support projects like this that improve habitat for wildlife,
while also reducing risks from flooding for the community.»

Nearly half of Massachusetts’s estimated 30,000 culverts are undersized and barriers
to fish and wildlife. Undersized culverts are also a serious risk to public safety,
as increased rainfall amounts cause roads to overtop and washout. Replacing culverts
to meet the Stream Crossing Standards allow streams to flow more naturally, which
allows for fish and storm waters to pass more easily. Recent studies also show the
culverts that meet the Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards are less expensive
than traditional culvert replacements over the life of the replacement.

«The work DER is doing with DPWs in the Deerfield River watershed and around the
state is a blessing,» said Deerfield DPW Director Kevin Scarborough. «The Stream
Continuity Program has been extremely helpful to our small town, and it is great to
work with them.»

«Reconstructing our culverts to better manage our waterways provides for long term
sustainability of our eco-system and protects public safety,» said Senate President
Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). «These funds will help improve the management of the
Deerfield River Watershed while conserving an important resource for Western
Massachusetts.»

«Protection of our waterways from pollution and erosion is critically important to
maintaining natural habitats and building healthier ecosystems,» said State
Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). «This grant funding for the Deerfield
River enhances efforts to improve access and safety on the river, and to help
preserve it as one of our great natural resources in western Massachusetts.»

«The cooperative efforts of both our state and federal government to obtain this
grant will assist our local communities’ efforts to provide safe and efficient
infrastructure and enhanced fish and wildlife habitat for all to enjoy,» said State
Representative Gailanne Cariddi (D-North Adams).

«This grant represents an important investment in the future of the Deerfield River
watershed,» said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). «I am grateful to the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for this funding which will allow us to take a
necessary step in maintaining and improving the natural stream patterns of our
ecosystems, avoid erosion, and halt the build-up of debris. I look forward to
working with the EEA to ensure Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards.»

The mission of the Division of Ecological
Restoration (DER) is to restore and
protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands, and watersheds for the benefit of
people and the environment.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is
responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth’s
natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife
habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and
ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG
promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills
workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access
to the Commonwealth’s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.