A Subcommittee of the Cape Cod Commission will conduct a public hearing on the Herring River Restoration Project Phase 1 on Monday, March 9, 2020, 5:00 p.m. at the Wellfleet Council on Aging, 715 Old Kings Highway, Wellfleet.
In December, the Town of Wellfleet submitted an application to the Cape Cod Commission for review of phase 1 of the restoration project as a Development of Regional Impact pursuant to the Cape Cod Commission Act.
Phase I proposes to re-introduce tidal flow to portions of the Herring River estuary in Wellfleet and Truro to restore approximately 570 acres of coastal wetlands. Phase 1 includes the construction and operation of new or replacement tidal control structures within the Town of Wellfleet.
Anyone wishing to testify orally will be welcome to do so at the public hearing. Written comments may also be submitted at the hearing, delivered or mailed to the Cape Cod Commission office, P.O. Box 226, 3225 Main Street, Barnstable, MA 02630, or emailed to the Cape Cod Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project plans and other relevant documents are available for review at http://www.capecodcommission.org/meetingnotices and also at the Cape Cod Commission office during regular business hours.
Copies of the project application are also available for public viewing at Wellfleet Public Library, 55 West Main Street, and the Wellfleet Health and Conservation Department, 220 West Main Street. The application is available electronically on the
Town's website and
Friends of Herring River website.
Project Neighbors Voice Support For
Herring River Restoration Project
"As a Wellfleet business owner and abutter to the area impacted by Phase One of the Herring River Restoration Project, I enthusiastically support this project...Increased tidal flow would not only enhance the water view from our rental cottages, but more importantly, the restored wildlife habitat will revive an ecosystem that is a jewel of Cape Cod and the backbone of our regional economy."
-Jeffrey Stefani, owner of The Colony of Wellfleet
"We humans have destroyed wetlands at an alarming rate. As awareness of the climate value of wetlands has grown, we have begun to recapture wetland acreage. However, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the gains have occurred in freshwater ecosystems while we continue to lose coastal wetland area. We have a chance to change that for the Herring River. Mitigating climate change happens one ecosystem at a time. We can make our contribution by supporting restoration of the Herring River."
-Jackie Fouse, Wellfleet, owner of property abutting the Herring River restoration site
"My Wellfleet neighborhood abuts the Herring River, which was degraded in 1909 after a dike restricted tidal flow to the once-healthy estuary. Because tidal flow was blocked, water quality deteriorated, resulting in the death of fish and other sea life...I ask all to join me in supporting this project. Once restored, a healthy Herring River Estuary will provide recreational opportunities and seafood to be enjoyed by residents and visitors for generations."
-Mary Ellen Manning, Wellfleet
"I do not consider myself to be a Pollyanna about the project. Because I own property that could be affected, I initially worried about the risks involved with restoring water to a floodplain that has been severely deprived for over a century. Eventually I came to understand that the science underlying the restoration has been checked and reviewed, and checked again. Reintroduction of seawater will happen slowly, over many years, and it will be closely monitored so that tidal flow can always be stopped or adjusted. Restoration will, in time, rehabilitate our herring and other fish and shellfish populations as the floodplain again becomes a healthy salt marsh."
-Gail Ferguson, Wellfleet
These letters and more are available for viewing on the Friends of Herring River website.
Facts about Herring River Restoration Phase 1
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.
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.