...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders
CRMC funds 9 habitat restoration projects
March 15, 2011, WAKEFIELD – The RI Coastal Resources Management Council has awarded funding for nine habitat restoration projects through its RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund.
The Council approved the funding at the March 8 semi-monthly meeting in Providence. Projects approved for funding include two marsh restoration projects, five fish passage restoration projects, one eelgrass project, and one shellfish restoration project.
“This year, the eighth year of funding, the CRMC is pleased to have been able to fund all of the restoration projects that were submitted,” said CRMC Chairman Michael M. Tikoian. “The Trust Fund’s competitive selection process has procured the best of the best in the state’s habitat and other restoration projects. Rhode Island’s coastal and estuarine habitats continue to be improved by our partners, through this great program."
The Council awarded $55,000 to Save The Bay and the Rhode Island Eelgrass Mapping Task Force for the acquisition of aerial imagery and performance of field work to update the inventory of eelgrass beds in Narragansett Bay. Save The Bay will collaborate with other members of the task force to acquire and interpret new aerial photos, and to ground-truth eelgrass information. This work is critical to many town planners, state environmental agencies, federal resource agencies and even coastal developers. Mapping eelgrass is a first step toward its management and restoration.
The Council also awarded $27,089 to The Nature Conservancy for the Goosewing Beach Salt Marsh Restoration project, which will restore the ecology of the salt marsh at Quicksand Pond in Little Compton by managing the colonization and spread of the invasive plant, Phragmites australis. The restoration will improve the habitat quality of mudflats and maintain native shoreline plant communities for shorebirds and other wildlife.
The town of South Kingstown received $25,000 in funding for the Factory Pond Bypass Fishway in South Kingstown. The project will restore more than 35 acres of alewife spawning and nursery habitat, as well as American eel rearing habitat in Green Hill Pond. Both the dam and outflow channel at the site were heavily damaged during the floods in 2010. The town plans to repair and reconstruct the dam in 2011, and as part of this work, the bypass stream outlet will be stabilized while also providing diadromous fish passage.
The RIDEM Division of Fish & Wildlife received $20,000 for fish passage improvements to the Palisades fishway in Peace Dale. The department also received $45,000 in partial funding for similar improvements to the Main Street Dam and Fishway in Wakefield. These projects will rehabilitate river herring and American eel access to approximately 300 spawning and rearing acres of the Saugatucket River.
The Council also approved $8,000 in funds toward the Shady Lea Mill Fish Passage and Dam Assessment in North Kingstown. Save The Bay, RIDEM and the Mill at Shady Lea plan to study dam removal options and begin design on a river restoration project to enhance riverine and anadromous fish habitat. A project there would restore two acres of the Mattatuxet River and open up a half mile of stream habitat for fish passage.
Hog Island Incorporated was awarded $2,300 in funds toward the Hog Island Salt Marsh Restoration project in Portsmouth. The project will restore tidal flushing to the southeastern salt marsh complex on Hog Island. The barrier beach there has migrated inland over the last several decades, blocking a tidal creek that led to the western side of the mars. The creek blockage has resulted in restricted tidal flow to half of the complex and impounded water in the high marsh, which has allowed Phragmites to grow.
The Trust Fund also provided $1,580 to the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum for the Gilbert Stuart Fish Ladder and Eelway Adjustments project. The museum plans to remove the fish ladder on-site and construct customized modifications to the dam to accommodate a redesigned fish ladder, which will improve the passage of river herring. The project will rehabilitate river access to approximately 60 acres of spawning habitat in the Narrow River, as well as American eel rearing habitat.
The Nature Conservancy was awarded $41,031 in partial funding for a shellfish restoration project in Ninigret Pond. This is a pilot project that will test the effect of enhancing substrate (material to which oyster seed must adhere in order to grow) in the pond on oyster recruitment and growth.
Habitat restoration projects are funded through the RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund and are selected from recommendations by the RI Habitat Restoration Team, established by CRMC, Save The Bay and the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program in 1998. Members of the team serve as a technical advisory committee for the CRMC as required by law. Funds for the program come from the state’s Oil Spill Prevention Administration and Response Act (OSPAR), established by the legislature following the 1996 North Cape oil spill. Each year, the Trust Fund and CRMC receive $225,000 from the OSPAR account to fund habitat restoration projects in the state.
To date and including this year, the Trust Fund has awarded $1.87 million for 67 projects, which have leveraged more than $18 million in matching funds.
The full 2010-2011 Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund report will be available on CRMC’s web site at http://www.crmc.ri.gov/habitatrestoration.html. Photos of the projects are available upon request.