The Herring Run
News and Information about the
HERRING RIVER RESTORATION PROJECT
September 2021
Senator Ed Markey Stresses Need, Opportunities for Herring River Restoration Project
Roughly 30 community leaders and project team members met with Senator Ed Markey at the Chequessett Neck Road dike to discuss the regional and national significance of the Herring River Restoration Project. Photo courtesy of Laurie Warner
Rep. Sarah Peake led Town and Seashore officials and project team members in welcoming Senator Ed Markey to the Chequessett Neck Road dike on his recent visit to Cape Cod. The Senator toured the dike, which is set to be removed and replaced as part of the Herring River Restoration project, and talked with local officials about how the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package could help fund the climate resiliency project.

The Senator observed that the stresses facing Herring River reflect the broader challenges facing Cape Cod as a region at the front lines of climate change and sea level rise. The Senator noted that there are billions of dollars of funding in legislation that is currently before the Congress that could soon be available for infrastructure and resilience projects such as the Herring River Restoration Project.

Selectboard Chair Ryan Curley spoke to the project's potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the restoration of tidal marsh grasses, which sequester carbon. Currently, ponded freshwater wetlands in the Herring River system emit methane, a heat-trapping gas much more potent than carbon dioxide.

Bill Biewenga, a project abutter and Chair of the Herring River Stakeholders Group, remarked that the project will bring extensive benefits to land in the Cape Cod National Seashore, and so an investment in this project is also an investment in America.

County Commissioners Sheila Lyons and Mark Forest, and Selectboard members Helen Miranda Wilson and Janet Reinhart were also on hand to show their support for the project, along with other regional and local leaders.
It was all smiles behind the masks! Starting left: Philip Tabas, Bill Biewenga, Geoff Sanders, Superintendent Brian Carlstrom, Jackie Fouse, Carole Ridley, Dale Rheault, Rep. Sarah Peake, Sen. Markey, Selectboard Chair Ryan Curley, Martha Craig, Christine Odiaga, County Commissioner Sheila Lyons, Selectboard member Janet Reinhart. Photo courtesy of Laurie Warner
Executive Council Adopts Initial Tide Gate Management Policy
On July 15th, the Herring River Executive Council adopted a tide gate management policy to guide the first three years of restoration implementation. The conservative approach allows a significant amount of restoration to occur with ongoing monitoring and data collection. Figure prepared by Tim Smith, Cape Cod National Seashore Restoration Ecologist
Once tidal restoration begins, the configuration of tide gates at the proposed Chequessett Neck Road bridge and water control structure will be the primary means of regulating tidal exchange and the pace of habitat restoration. 
 
As part of the project's Adaptive Management Program, alternative tide gate configurations were evaluated to determine which configurations best fulfill the project’s restoration objectives over time. A specialized Decision Analysis Tool compiled data from models, science experts, and community surveys to evaluate the performance of alternative tide gate configurations.

The Herring River Executive Council (HREC) relied on this information in its selection of an initial tide gate policy to guide the first three years of restoration.
 
The HREC opted for the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 to occur in a gradual step-wise process. With this approach, a significant amount of restoration could still be achieved in a short time. Ongoing monitoring will generate data describing system changes. The data will be used to update models that will inform tide gate management policies for longer-term restoration.

Under the selected policy, the high tide elevation of 1.8 feet at the end of Year 2 is a critical water level threshold where tides overflow stream/creek banks and begin to flood marsh surfaces, allowing restoration to occur. The corresponding storm of record elevation would still be more than one foot lower than the current elevation of the lowest structure and roads in the Phase 1 restoration area.

The policy maintains the 1.8 high tide level in Years two and three. This establishes a stable tidal condition that is significant enough to allow restoration to proceed, while also limited enough to facilitate vegetation clearing and other marsh management measures needed to enhance restoration. 
Friends Awarded Additional State & Federal Funds
The Baker-Polito Administration, through the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), has awarded Friends of Herring River $500,000 for permitting and design completion for the Herring River Restoration Project.
 
This grant is part of the Administration’s issuance of $4 million in grants to strengthen community preparedness for large storms, improve climate-ready infrastructure, protect fisheries, wildlife, and river habitats, and restore floodplain habitat and flood storage capabilities.
 
Friends of Herring River also received an additional $591,391 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center this year, bringing the current NOAA grant total to $1,301,539 over three years, to design and permit the Herring River Restoration Project.

These awards will continue DER and NOAA’s investment in the design, permitting, and preparation for construction of the Herring River Estuary Restoration Project. When complete, this project will restore natural tidal flow to approximately six miles of waterways and up to 1,000 acres of severely degraded estuarine habitats. The project will also improve Wellfleet Harbor water quality, enhance migratory fish access to hundreds of acres of spawning ponds, restore a significant area of shellfish habitat, and increase coastal resilience to the effects of climate change and sea level rise.
P.O. Box 565
South Wellfleet, MA 02663
508-214-0656