...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders
CRMC funds 6 habitat restoration projects
March 4, 2016, WAKEFIELD – The RI Coastal Resources Management Council has awarded full funding for five habitat restoration projects, and partial funding for one project, through its RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund (CEHRTF).
The Council approved the funding at the February 23 semi-monthly meeting in Providence. Projects approved for funding include a coastal adaptation project, creation of a statewide oyster restoration guidance document, an extensive fishway project, a coastal habitat restoration project, fish passage improvements, and one equipment request for the RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).
As with the previous year, in its request for proposals the CRMC put special emphasis on projects that would enhance the resiliency of Rhode Island’s coastal habitats to climate change and sea level rise. One of the funded projects, Grinnell’s Beach coastal adaptation project, exemplifies these goals. The Town of Tiverton’s Conservation Commission received $3,750 to restore a coastal buffer of warm season grasses, native shrubs, and beach grass. The restoration will restore the dune and coastal shrub habitat and create pollinator habitat, and the buffer restoration will create a dune where there is currently parking lot, which will increase the resiliency of the beach by moving the parking area inland and removing infrastructure that floods during king tides and is a hazard during storms.
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management, along with other partners, was awarded $25,377 conduct oyster monitoring, assessment, and development of a R.I. Oyster Restoration Guidance Document. The areas of study include the South Shore coastal ponds, the Great Salt Pond, and select locations in Narragansett Bay, and will provide essential guidance for future oyster restoration projects, including a prioritization of potential sites for restoration and enhancement, as well as best techniques for reef creation. Project partners include The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via the USF&W Sportfish Restoration Program.
The largest award this year – $110,873 – will go to the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC) for the Manton Pond Dam nature-like fishway construction. This project, which had previously been awarded funding in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013, will allow migratory fish access to the nine acres of pond habitat in Manton Pond. It will also open approximately 0.7 river miles from Manton Pond Dam to the next upstream impoundment at Lyman Mill Pond Dam, bringing the total available spawning habitat from 4-6 to 5.3 river miles. This award will see the realization of the multi-year project to open a significant segment of the Woonasquatucket River to fish passage. Prolific damming of the river, mostly to power textile mills, has greatly impeded diadromous fish passage on this river for more than 150 years. To-date, extensive work has been done through the WRWC to re-open the river. The Rising Sun Mills (the first dam on the river) Denil fish ladder was constructed in 2008; a partial breach of Paragon Mills (second dam) was completed in September 2010; a Denil fish ladder was completed at Atlantic Mills (third dam) in May 2009; the dam at Dyerville Mills (fourth dam) was removed in October 2009; and the fifth and final dam on the lower part of the river, Manton Pond Dam, is 90 percent design-complete and ready for construction. Project partners include USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and RIDEM Division of Fish & Wildlife.
The Nature Conservancy received $70,000 for improving fish passage at Bradford Dam in Westerly/Hopkinton. TNC and project partners plan to remove the dam as part of a larger, ecosystem-wide restoration program for the Pawcatuck River Watershed, including dam removals and fish passage restoration at White Rock, Potter Hill, and Bradford Dams. For this project, TNC plans to partially remove the right side of the dam and adjacent fish ladder, and in place of the dam to construct six raised arched stone weirs with a low flow notch in the center for fish passage and recreation boat passage during lower river levels.
DEM was also awarded $5,000 for the purchase of an excavator. This low ground pressure equipment is used statewide for mosquito abatement and control and wetland restoration.
The Taylor Point Restoration Association received partial funding – $10,000 – for their project to restore the point by eliminating the invasive plant species and re-vegetate with native ones; to protect existing native species; to improve degraded footpaths to provide safe public shoreline access; and maintain existing views of Narragansett Bay. The long-term goal of the project is the establishment of an ecologically robust coastal area and native buffer zone, which will serve as a valuable aesthetic and recreational resource. The funding will also go toward creating base maps and collecting biological data to add to the restoration planning process.
Habitat restoration projects are funded through the RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund and are selected from recommendations by the fund’s Technical Advisory Committee. Program funds 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 CEHRTF advisory committee, with approval of the CRMC allocates $225,000 from the OSPAR account to habitat restoration projects throughout the state.
“The CRMC is pleased to support this year’s suite of habitat restoration and coastal adaptation projects, and recognizes the important role that these projects play in improving the resilience of our coastal areas to climate change and sea level rise,” said CRMC Executive Director Grover Fugate. “We are also glad to see the final piece of the Manton Pond Dam project come to fruition.”
To date and including this year, the Trust Fund has awarded $3 million for 110 projects, which have leveraged more than $23 million in matching funds. In its 13 years, the Trust Fund has helped to restore over 300 acres of coastal and estuarine habitat.The full 2015 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.