The Herring Run
News and Information about the
March 2021
Shellfish Advisory Board Hears Update on Expected Sediment Trends
New sediment transport modeling confirms that the net movement of sediment in Wellfleet Harbor following restoration will be upstream in Herring River. Kirk Bosma, Senior Coastal Engineer and Innovation Director with Woods Hole Group, presented results on his recent work on sediment transport modeling in Wellfleet Harbor to the Wellfleet Shellfish Advisory Board (SAB) during their January meeting. This work was an expansion to the existing hydrodynamic modeling created earlier by Woods Hole Group and was in direct response to the Wellfleet shellfishing community’s request to expand the model to extend throughout most of Wellfleet Harbor, including shellfish grants, the marina area and Mayo Creek. Results from this study are similar to those from the past study: net movement of sediment is UPSTREAM, which will help build up the marsh surface. Sediment particles stay suspended in the water column while circulating through Wellfleet Harbor and do not settle in the harbor. Dr. Mark Borelli, from the Center for Coastal Studies, also presented a new, comprehensive sediment transport study being planned in Wellfleet Harbor this spring which will extend over the next 3 years. More information will be presented to the SAB on that project as data becomes available. FHR and other project partners will continue to work with the SAB and the greater shellfishing community to address their concerns and will continue to use rigorous scientific study as the basis for decision making for the project.

Kirk’s presentation to the SAB can be seen here. (Kirk’s presentation begins around 10:00 minutes)
Design Work Begins on Upper Herring River Culverts
With a project kickoff meeting late last month, work is now underway to produce plans and cost estimates for re-construction of the undersized Herring River culverts at Old King’s Highway and Schoolhouse Hill Road crossings (see map). This work is being funded by a generous grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to the Town of Wellfleet, plus both in-kind and monetary support from the Friends. After reviewing three competitive proposals, the Town of Wellfleet, Cape Cod National Seashore and both staff and board members of Friends of Herring River selected CMA Engineering of Portsmouth, New Hampshire to evaluate alternatives and produce a design for improved fish passage under, and vehicle passage over, these two historic roadways. The goal is to both allow unrestricted river and stream-bank passage for fish and wildlife and ensure safe road crossings for heavy vehicles while maintaining the roads’ woodsy character. Final products of this design step, including construction drawings that meet all requirements for environmental permitting, will be ready by the end of June.

The harm that these small culverts have caused the river’s namesake herring run has been abundantly quantified by a recent multi-year herring tagging and tracking study by Dr. Derrick Alcott of the University of Massachusetts. Herring hesitate for hours before attempting to pass through these narrow culverts – with good reason: they are often occupied by large predatory snapping turtles. With so little space for passage, many fish never make it, and those that do still pay the energetic and reproductive costs of a delayed migration.  It seems likely that removing these restrictions to herring passage will, along with the large estuarine restoration project downstream, help to restore Wellfleet’s once-prolific herring run.

The Massachusetts Environment Trust fund supports projects that restore, protect and improve the quality of Commonwealth waterways through research and public involvement. In particular, the Trust supports projects that advance conservation and understanding of aquatic and marine systems. The Trust is primarily supported through the sale of environmental license plates; see
BLUE CARBON: Herring River Illustrates the Value of Wetlands in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Herring River Restoration Project was highlighted in a recent article in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s How We Respond series. The article examines the role that salt marshes play in storing carbon and how tidal restoration can help combat climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and greater carbon storage. The Herring River is the case study and discusses the research being conducted by project partners including the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the U.S. Geological Survey, Restore Americas Estuaries and others.

To view the full article and video, please connect to the following link:
Save the Date: Herring Count Workshop to be held March 20, 2021 at 10:00 am
Learn about the information obtained from the past 10 years of Wellfleet’s herring counts. We will describe river herring life history and ecology, attempts to repair upper Herring River culverts, and the latest Herring Management Plan from the New England Fisheries Management Council. Volunteers will get a review of the COVID and counting protocols and information about signing up for a count slot and entering data. 

The link to the workshop is provided below.
Or join by phone:
+1-415-655-0001 US Toll
Access code: 182 642 0747
Password: 42767668
Upcoming Spring Events
Photo courtesy of S Broker
April is National Poetry Month
“Voices of the River”: The restoration of the Herring River and the salt marsh is inspiring many poets, painters, photographers and writers. Friends of Herring River will be accepting poems through the month of April to be published in our newsletter in May. Submit your poem to: 

First Annual Herring Run 5K
Friends of Herring River will be holding our first annual Herring River Run 5K in May! This year, due to COVID-19, the run will be held virtually. Additional details will be coming in our next newsletter.
Step into Spring: A Series of Guided Walks
We will be presenting a series of talks combined with socially-distanced walks this Spring. Topics include ecology of the Herring River estuary and problems created by the Dike; the Herring Run to the spawning ponds; ecology of diamondback terrapins; a history of Bound Brook Island and others. More information will be available in the next newsletter.
P.O. Box 565
South Wellfleet, MA 02663