Amherst, Mass., October 4, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $10 million to restore and protect water quality on Cape Cod. Some 16 individual projects that will include installation of fish passages, stormwater remediation and salt marsh restoration will be funded as part of the Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project.
The Cape Cod project is one of 48 new, multi-year projects and activities that aim to build vital infrastructure while conserving natural resources in 20 states through the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program. NRCS works with local groups to help prevent floods, protect watersheds, improve agricultural water management and enhance wildlife habitat through this program.
"Water quality is a major concern on Cape Cod, particularly its effect on salt marshes, shellfish beds and herring runs," said Christine Clarke, NRCS State Conservationist for Massachusetts. "The Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project is a strong, locally led partnership of federal, state and local agencies. This funding will result in significant long-term benefits Cape-wide."
The Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project watershed plan and environmental impact statement was authorized in 2009 and included 76 projects across Cape Cod. These projects would restore 1,500 acres of salt marsh, protect 7,200 acres of shellfish beds through improved stormwater management and create fish passages that will provide anadromous fish with access to 4,200 acres of spawning habitat.
Twenty three of the projects originally identified in the Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project Watershed Plan were completed between 2010 and 2013. Work on several of the new sites is expected to begin as early as next spring. Completion of all 16 projects is expected by fall 2019.
Nationwide, NRCS will invest $150 million in watershed projects, working with project sponsors, such as conservation districts, local governments and American Indian tribes. The projects take place in smaller watersheds that cover 250,000 acres or less.
In Massachusetts, project sponsors are the Cape Cod Conservation District, the Barnstable County Commissioners, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and all 15 Cape Cod towns. NRCS worked with these sponsors to identify project sites.
NRCS serves as the primary technical adviser to project sponsors because of its engineering and environmental expertise and ability to deliver science-based technology and knowledge about the watershed's natural resources and ecosystem.
Since 1947, the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program has helped communities address critical needs on flood control, water management, watershed protection and development. This strong federal, state and local partnership has resulted in the construction of more than 2,000 watershed projects that help communities in every state in the nation and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. These watershed projects reflect a federal investment of about $6.2 billion and deliver an estimated $2.2 billion in average annual benefits nationwide.
Diane Baedeker Petit, Public Affairs Officer
413-253-4371, cell 413-835-1276