The Town of Wellfleet's recent application to the Cape Cod Commission for review of Phase 1 of the Herring River Restoration Project includes letters of support from a wide range of local, regional, state and national stakeholders.
The far-reaching benefits that result from restoring degraded natural resources, a decade of strong stakeholder engagement, and a strong, science-based plan are among the project features supporters value.
In a jointly-issued letter, Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Sarah Peake wrote:
"A collaboration of local, state and federal partners has been central to the project's success. This partnership has enabled the project to benefit from vast technical knowledge and experience while ensuring that decisions about project design and implementation remain local and responsive to community needs...The Herring River Restoration stands out as one of the most significant projects of its time in the Northeast. It exemplifies the exciting potential of the emerging Blue Economy on Cape Cod, by utilizing modeling and management techniques that are at the leading edge of restoration science."
A letter from Wellfleet Conservation Trust president R. Dennis O'Connell explains why the Trust supports the project:
"We have been impressed with the efforts for transparency, for public awareness, and, especially for the degree of scientific research that has gone into the development of restoration plans. Also, we are impressed by the opportunities to improve the environmental conditions and water quality of the estuary and of the Harbor. We have great confidence in the leadership structure that has evolved. We believe that the leadership team will continue its practice of understanding all aspects of the project and will do what is best for the citizens of the Town of Wellfleet and the interests of the Cape Cod National Seashore, taking into consideration all those who are impacted by the project."
Additional local entities providing letters of support included the Wellfleet Natural Resources Advisory Board, Wellfleet Shellfish Advisory Board, Wellfleet Open Space Committee, and other local citizens and floodplain property owners.
Regional, state and national groups providing letters of support include: Massachusetts Audubon, Association to Preserve Cape Cod, Center for Coastal Studies, Society of Wetland Scientists, and The Nature Conservancy.
Copies of the project application are available for public viewing at Wellfleet Public Library, 55 West Main Street, and the Wellfleet Health and Conservation Department, 220 West Main Street.
The Blue-shaded area shows the extent of restoration at the end of Phase 1
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 60 public meetings and presentations involving hundreds of stakeholders over the past decade. Since last June alone, there have been six publicly posted local meetings where Herring River Restoration Project has been discussed and members of the public could offer comments. This commitment to transparency will continue.
Coming Feb. 11th:
Environmental history of a fragile ecosystem
Tuesday, February 11th 10 am,
at Wellfleet Public Library, 55 West Main Street
Presenter: John T. Cumbler
Co-sponsored by Friends of Herring River and
Wellfleet Historical Society
John T. Cumbler is a Wellfleet resident, retired history professor from the University of Louisville and author of seven books. His talk will focus on the ways humans have altered the environment of Cape Cod over the past 600 years. It covers the relationship between land us, tools and technology, and a variety of energy sources.
Copies of Cape Cod: An Environmental History of a Fragile Ecosystem will be on sale following the event.
Annual Herring Counters Workshop
When: Tuesday, March 17th, 4:30 pm,
Where: Wellfleet Public Library, 55 West Main Street
What: Annual Herring Count Workshop
Join us to learn about volunteering for Wellfleet's Annual Herring Count at Old Kings Highway on the Herring River. Volunteers will get a review of the protocol for counting river herring and helping with clearing overgrown vegetation at the count site. No prior experience is necessary. Bring your calendars! Sign up sheets will be available.
The Workshop will also include information collected from the past 10 years of Wellfleet's herring counts. Other presentations will include 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.