Cape Cod Commission Grants Approval to Herring River Restoration, Phase 1
The Cape Cod Commission voted unanimously on June 11th to grant Development of Regional Impact approval to the Town of Wellfleet for Phase 1 of the Herring River Restoration Project. The 19-member Commission includes representatives appointed from each Cape Cod town as well as a Native American representative, Minority representative, County Commissioner, and Governor's appointee. A Subcommittee of the Commission had recommended approval of the Project to the full panel following two public hearing sessions and a public workshop to consider permit conditions.
The approval is the first environmental permit to be issued for the Project, and a major milestone in efforts to restore tidal flow to the estuary. Additional permit applications to local, state and federal agencies will be filed in the coming months.
Thank you to all Project supporters!
Attendees of the March 9th Cape Cod Commission public hearing at the Wellfleet Council on Aging.
We would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all citizens, officials, business owners, floodplain property owners, conservationists, shellfishers and grant holders, naturalists, and civic organizations who took time to participate in the Cape Cod Commission public hearing. By an overwhelming margin, you voiced compelling, thoughtful and informed support for the Herring River Restoration Project and why it is so important to our community and region. We look forward to our ongoing dialogue with you as this project moves forward.
Facts about Phase 1 of the Herring River Restoration Project
1. Phase 1 will restore 570 acres of severely degraded estuarine habitat.
Prolonged tidal restriction caused by the Chequessett Neck Road dike has resulted in severe habitat degradation and nearly complete loss of native tidal wetland habitat. As a consequence Herring River is listed as an "Impaired Water" in violation of several Clean Water Act standards, and the Chequessett Neck Road Bridge is a state-designated point source for bacterial contamination responsible for closure of downstream shellfish areas.
2. 95% of the Phase 1 restoration area -- accounting for 540 acres-- is owned by the federal government in the Cape Cod National Seashore. Of the remaining 30 acres in the Phase 1 restoration area outside the Seashore, approximately 11 acres consist of portions of 11 residential parcels where land currently under wetland jurisdiction will experience some tidal influence.
3. All public and private structures are protected from any adverse impact from Phase 1 tidal restoration. Only three residential properties require mitigation work on their property to prevent any potential impact due to tidal restoration. All three property owners are working cooperatively with the project and have signed letters allowing the work on their property to be described in permit applications.
4. Restoration of tidal flow will happen incrementally,
while system responses are carefully monitored. The Project will re-establish tidal flow to the estuary incrementally using a carefully calibrated adaptive management approach. Adaptive management incorporates extensive monitoring--much of which is already underway--to document baseline conditions and, once implementation begins, measure ongoing system responses to restoration of tidal flow.
5. The Project is committed to transparency. Stakeholder engagement has been a priority since the beginning of the Herring River Restoration Project, and is a big reason why so many organizations and individuals support the project. There have been more than 75 public meetings and presentations involving hundreds of stakeholders over the past decade. In the last twelve months alone there have been fifteen publicly posted meetings and hearings where the Herring River Restoration Project was discussed. This commitment to transparency will continue.