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CRMC funds 10 habitat restoration projects
April 25, 2013, WAKEFIELD – The RI Coastal Resources Management Council has awarded funding for ten habitat restoration projects through its RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund.
The Council approved the funding at the March 26 semi-monthly meeting in Providence. Projects approved for funding include five salt marsh restoration projects, two freshwater restoration projects and two anadromous fish passage projects .
The Council awarded $56,401 to the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council for the Manton Pond Dam Nature-Like Fishway Construction project in Johnston. This project will construct a nature-like fishway at the dam to complete the group’s long-running project to restore diadromous fish passage at different points along the Woonasquatucket River. Once this final obstruction is removed, the river will offer spawning habitat in both the river and Manton Pond for 40,000 river herring. The fishway will allow migratory fish access to nine acres of pond habitat and open up nearly a mile of river.
The Council also awarded $40,000 to Save The Bay for the Shady Lea Mill dam removal project in North Kingstown. A previous Trust Fund award allowed for the hiring of a contractor to assess the dam’s structure and the sediment built up in the impoundment. Now the partners will examine the extent of the dam removal necessary and develop a design, in addition to a sediment management plan for the estimated 1,700 cubic yards of sediment in the impoundment. The long-term plan is for removal of the dam, which will restore two acres of diadromous fish access and a half-mile of stream habitat.
The Group to Save Long Pond received $25,000 in funding for the Long Pond Habitat Restoration Planning effort for Long Pond in Little Compton. The group plans to study the pond and adjacent natural habitats, totaling 165 acres and including 50 acres overrun by invasive Phragmites australis, the primary focus of the restoration. The group plans to submit a management plan to the CRMC and to RI DEM as part of permitting.
The Council also approved $23,000 in funds toward the restoration of northern Coggeshall salt marsh on Prudence Island in Portsmouth. The Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NBNERR) plans to restore the ecological structure and function of the section of marsh by removing Phragmites, cleaning out existing clogged creeks and extending the creek and pool network, and removing all portions of an artificial berm to enhance tidal flow. The area will be monitored over a multi-year period.
Save The Bay was awarded $19,730 for its Rhode Island Salt Marsh Assessment: Phase 2 effort. Save The Bay began assessment in 2012 of Rhode Island’s salt marshes to assess the extent of die-off in the high marsh in response to sea level rise, higher tides and heat/drought; to assess the extent of die-off along the low marsh edge in response to herbivore grazing; and to identify any restoration or adaptation opportunities. The group’s next goals will be to implement all three tiers of their previous assessments (GIS, field and detail and research-based assessments) and begin adaptive management planning. Save The Bay will also continue Tier 1, 2 and 3 work and still plans to seek other partners for broader assessment and application.
The Cocumscussoc Association was awarded $18,590 for its Cocumscussoc Brook and Meadow Brook Wetlands Restoration project at Smith’s Castle in North Kingstown. The group plans to conduct a study to examine ways to restore and enhance declining wetland features within the national landmark Cocumscussoc Historic Site, 11 acres along Mill Cove. Two freshwater streams flow through the site and empty into Mill Cove. Phragmites is a problem in the wetland areas, and the coastal buffer also contains a number of invasive species. Areas of Cocumscussoc Brook have also been overtaken by invasive plants and erosion has jeopardized the integrity of two culverts. The funding will go toward detailed study of these problems, with an eventual restoration plan and project.
The RI Department of Environmental Management received $6,000 for its Flail Mower equipment. This low ground pressure equipment is used statewide for mosquito abatement and control and wetland restoration.
The Rhode Island School of Design was awarded $4,600 in funding for its Barrington Beach Salt Marsh Adaptation project. The beach salt marsh is a back barrier marsh owned by the school. A culvert that historically provided tidal flow has filled in, leaving only 4 acres of the total 16-acre marsh open water. The project will restore tidal flow to the blocked section of marsh and reduce impounded water on the marsh surface. Adaptive management measures will restore the natural system, and assist the marsh in adapting to rising sea level and migration of the barrier beach.
The Rocky Hill School also received $3,186 toward the Potowomut Salt Marsh Restoration project in Warwick. Over time, the creek has clogged, water is now impounded and short form Spartina alterniflora is prevalent. The restoration project will reduce the amount of impounded water by excavating the clogged creek and allowing the marsh surface to drain. The long-term goal is to create conditions allowing the marsh surface to accrete. An additional benefit is the opportunity for school students to observe conditions in the marsh, using it as a living classroom.
The Council approved $28,493 in partial funding to The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife for saltmarsh erosion control and habitat enhancement in Narrow River. The project partners will test a variety of treatments to evaluate their impact and effectiveness on erosion control. The techniques include using coconut fiber or coir logs and bags of shell anchored to the river bottom to help dissipate vessel generated waves (VGW) that can erode the marsh edge. The restoration sites will span approximately 200 feet of shoreline, and each treatment (40-foot sections) will be tested repeatedly at different sections of the river.
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 allocates $225,000 from the OSPAR account to habitat restoration projects in the state.
“This is the tenth year of funding, and the CRMC is pleased to have an outstanding pool of applications,” said CRMC Executive Director Grover Fugate. “The Trust Fund’s Technical Advisory Committee continues to utilize a competitive selection process to procure the best habitat restoration projects. Rhode Island’s coastal and estuarine habitats continue to be improved by our partners through this great program, and the state dollars provided continue to leverage millions more toward this important work.”
To date and including this year, the Trust Fund has awarded $2.3 million for 87 projects, which have leveraged more than $23 million in matching funds.
The full 2012-2013 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.