BOURNE – July 24, 2015 – At an event at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today announced $480,568 in grants from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) for projects to protect and restore rivers, watersheds, and wildlife across the Commonwealth.
“The Environmental Trust has been investing in the waters of Massachusetts for over twenty-five years,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our coastal regions and rivers are just some of the natural resources that make Massachusetts such a great place to live and visit, and these grants will continue to improve these incredible resources.”
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 provide a wide array of environmental services, 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.
“The grants being awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration will help to open miles of rivers to fish, improve water quality, and provide new recreational opportunities,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This funding has been made possible because over 40,000 drivers in Massachusetts choose to purchase one of the three environmental license plates, and I applaud our state’s residents for their continued commitment to the Commonwealth’s environmental well-being.”
The grants will help support twelve projects in Arlington, Barnstable, Belmont, Bourne, Boxford, Chilmark, Falmouth, Hanover, Milton, Pittsfield, Wareham, and Wellfleet.
“This award will help the Berkshire Environmental Action Team implement a visionary partnership with local college students focused on protecting Berkshire County’s most valuable natural resources,” said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield). “The Massachusetts Environmental Trust has funded such initiatives across the Commonwealth for decades, and I am pleased to see the Baker Administration continue to support these important environmental protection efforts.”
“I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration, and Secretary Beaton, for their continued engagement with the important environmental issues facing us in the 1st Barnstable District,” said State Representative Timothy Whelan (R-Brewster). “The grant funding from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust will further assist the Three Bays Project examine innovative and less expensive ways to address water quality on Cape Cod.”
“Protecting and improving our waterways is an imperative part of a healthy environment,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). “I was proud to be the Senate sponsor of legislation that provides these funds for the Massachusetts Environmental Trust through the first environmental license plates. The plates generate roughly $1,000,000 annually for worthwhile projects such as this. I look forward to seeing the Weweantic River benefit from these resources as it continues to serve the communities of southeastern Massachusetts.”
This grant serves the dual purpose of providing an educational opportunity for our MMA students while, at the same time, gathering important information about the seabed that is needed to plan for the area's environmental stability,” said State Representative Randy Hunt (R-East Sandwich).
The grants awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration include:
Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Inc. (Pittsfield) - $35,682 has been awarded to develop a program for training citizen scientists to survey stormwater outfalls during dry weather conditions. The proponents will create a digital survey form for mobile phones that can be used in the field and take photos that will be geocoded and downloaded at the end of the survey. A GIS layer will be created with attached photos and forms documenting the size, material and condition of the pipe, and note any problems associated with each outfall. When dry weather flows are found, trained personnel will sample the flows and the samples will be tested by a certified lab and by Berkshire Community College students for a new water quality course.
Buzzards Bay Coalition (Wareham) - $45,000 has been awarded to restore the Weweantic River and its estuary by removing the physical barrier that restricts the natural movement of important migratory fish and the tides at the site of the Horseshoe Mill in Wareham. The grant award will be used to conduct additional sediment testing and hydraulic modeling, develop conceptual designs and graphic renderings, prepare preliminary engineering designs and cost estimates, and complete a final feasibility report.
Cardinal Cushing Centers (Hanover) - $40,000 has been awarded to remove Tack Factory Pond dam. The dam is the first dam in the Third Herring Brook system, a 5.5 mile long tributary to the North River estuary. This project will restore Third Herring Brook from a series of impoundments to a self-sustaining river resource and support migratory and resident fish populations. This is the second of three dams to be removed on the river.
Friends of Herring River (Wellfleet) - $40,000 has been awarded for the Herring River restoration project rare species monitoring. This project will collect baseline data on state-listed freshwater species to evaluate their composition in response to tidal restoration and/or rising sea levels associated with the Herring River Restoration Project. To better plan, evaluate, manage and monitor effects of tidal restoration on freshwater marsh species, analyses of species occurrences will be conducted.
Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (Belmont) - $30,000 has been awarded to create and make available a free online, on-demand course for brand new conservation commissioners that will orient them to essentials such as purposes, roles, and responsibilities of conservation commissions, the Wetlands Protection Act, the Conservation Commission Act, Open Meetings Law, the Public Records Act, ethical considerations and requirements, and how to access and use resources to assist in their work.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Bourne) - $40,000 has been awarded to map 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.
Mystic River Watershed Association (Arlington) - $60,405 has been awarded to develop a Mystic River recreation flagging system. The Mystic River Watershed Association and Tufts University will develop a system in the watershed to alert recreational users to safe or unsafe conditions. The project will increase understanding of conditions of Mystic and Malden Rivers; protect public health; increase attention to sources of pathogen contamination; and increase recreational use of the Mystic River.
Neponset River Watershed Association (Milton) - $20,000 has been awarded to begin the process of removing two small dams and modifying a third to benefit native brook trout populations. The project will pilot an innovative, low-cost approach to addressing smaller structures using a combination of watershed association staff and in-kind labor and expertise provided by academic partners and private engineering firms. Project partners include the Neponset Watershed Association, the Wentworth Institute of Technology, Wellesley College, and the MA Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership.
Parker River Clean Water Association (Boxford) - $44,000 has been awarded for head-starting Blanding's Turtle hatchlings in the upper Parker River. The project will calculate head started hatchling Blanding’s Turtles home range, movement patterns, and survival rates and monitor nesting areas within the Parker River Watershed. Head starting and research on Blanding’s Turtle hatchlings will help offset the unnatural decline of this state-listed threatened turtle species.
Sheriff's Meadow Foundation (Chilmark) - $40,000 has been awarded to restore a section of the Mill Brook in Chilmark where fish passage has been impeded by an earthen berm and two undersized, improperly sited culverts. This stream restoration will benefit the native brook trout population and the threatened American brook lamprey. This project will be the first such stream restoration effort on Martha’s Vineyard and will take place on conservation land that is open to the public.
Three Bays Preservation Inc. (Barnstable) - $25,481 has been awarded to quantify impacts of oyster aquaculture on estuarine nitrogen related water quality. Oysters have been investigated for use in improving nitrogen related water quality impairment through the removal of water column nitrogen and enhancing sediment denitrification. However data and studies to quantify how much nitrogen removal can be expected from expanded aquaculture are lacking. This study will help quantify those amounts and inform the planned use of aquaculture as a nutrient removal tool.
Town of Falmouth - $60,000 has been awarded to remove Lower Bog Dam on the Coonamessett River and begin active restoration of Lower Bog. Removal of the dam will actively restore the 17 acres of Lower Bog to support a diverse riverine ecosystem. The local community will benefit from an enhanced fishery, improved recreational value in a restored Coonamessett River greenway, opportunities to increase environmental education, and reduced nitrogen loading into Great Pond.
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.