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Herring River restoration project gets a hefty $22.67M boost from state

Posted on September 26, 2022

More than a century ago, a dike was built across the mouth of the Herring River at Chequessett Neck, blocking it from freely emptying out into Wellfleet Harbor and hampering the inward flow of salt water with the rising and falling of the tides.

Little did they know then, as they sought to control mosquitoes and create more arable and developable land, the damage that would be done to the estuarine ecology over time.

More:Sen. Elizabeth Warren celebrates Herring River restoration in Wellfleet

Fast forward 113 years. A project to restore the Herring River Estuary is in the works, and this week the $70 million plan got a hefty financial boost from the state.

On Sept. 19, state and local officials gathered at Chequessett Neck Road Dike to celebrate the award of a $22.6 million state grant to help fund the project — appropriately as Climate Week got under way.

Herring River project aims to restore salt marsh, shellfish harvesting

The funding, awarded to Wellfleet through the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration’s Priority Projects Program, joins a $27.2 million grant awarded in April from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

On hand on Monday were Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon, Wellfleet Town Administrator Richard Waldo, state Rep. Sarah Peake, Cape Cod National Seashore Chief of Natural Resource Management and Science Geoff Sanders, and Friends of Herring River Chairman Dale Rheault.

More:Mud to table: Wellfleet oyster farms grow shellfish for your plate. Here’s how.

The Herring River Estuary Restoration Project is touted as the largest estuary restoration ever undertaken in the state, or even the northeast.

“This project will dramatically increase our community’s climate resilience, providing new infrastructure, restoring salt marsh and its potential to reduce carbon emissions, and safeguarding the health of shellfish resources so vital to our local economy,” said Waldo. “We are grateful to the Commonwealth for this significant investment in Wellfleet’s future.”

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