DU Partnering on Historic New England Estuary Restoration
Ducks Unlimited is proud to partner with Friends of the Herring River to help restore one of the largest and most productive salt marsh estuaries in New England.
Spanning more than 1,000 acres and six miles of waterways, the Herring River in Wellfleet and Truro, Massachusetts, once supported a vibrant, important wetland and coastal river ecosystem in the Gulf of Maine and hosted one of the most important fish runs on Outer Cape Cod.
But construction of a dike across the mouth of the river in 1909 and other alterations to the river’s hydrology effectively eliminated tidal flow, drained the salt marshes and transformed the estuary into one of Cape Cod’s most degraded natural resources.
Federal, state, local and non-government partners have spent 30 years documenting the ecological damage caused by these alterations. Under a 2007 memorandum of understanding between the Seashore and the Towns of Wellfleet and Truro, the Herring River Restoration Committee was established, which developed an environmental impact statement and report and a detailed restoration plan to restore tidal flow to the estuary.
The $44 million project involves constructing a bridge with tidal control gates to replace the present dike at Chequesset Neck Road; additional water control structures to protect private properties in the Mill Creek and Pole Dike Creek Basins; removal of 1,000 feet of abandoned road across the interior marsh, elevation of more than 1.7 miles of public roads above restored tidal elevations and implementation of flood mitigation measures to protect several low-lying structures from higher water levels.
Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and conclude in 2020. Once completed, tidal exchange will be managed and increased over time.
Sarah Fleming, DU’s manager of conservation programs in Massachusetts, said Ducks Unlimited is a project partner and at this phase is offering technical assistance. She is looking forward to further helping the project as it gets closer to construction. “This is a huge wintering area for American black ducks, one of our species of concern in this region,” she said.
Friends of Herring River was established in 2009 to promote the restoration of the estuary and support the restoration efforts in cooperation with the Towns of Wellfleet and Truro and the Cape Cod National Seashore. Visit the website for more project details.