...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders
CRMC funds nine habitat restoration projects
March 26, 2018, WAKEFIELD – The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has awarded funding for nine habitat restoration projects in the 14th round of its RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund (CEHRTF).
The Council approved the funding at the February 27 semi-monthly meeting in Providence. Projects approved for funding include four salt marsh restoration and enhancement projects, two projects involving restoration of fish passage, one coastal buffer project, and two awards for technical and support services related to habitat restoration.
As with the previous two years, in its request for proposals the CRMC put special emphasis on projects that would enhance the resiliency of Rhode Island’s coastal habitats to climate change and sea level rise. The largest award this year – $92,295 – was awarded to CRMC and its partners (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], Town of Charlestown, and Save The Bay) for salt marsh restoration and enhancement in Quonochontaug Pond in Charlestown. This project includes restoring approximately 30 acres of salt marsh and eelgrass habitat. The back-barrier marshes in the Salt Ponds Region exhibit signs of poor condition associated with sea level rise. The proposed project will raise the elevation of the Quonochontaug marsh using material dredged from the pond. Some of the dredged areas will be designed with depths suitable for eelgrass with the goal of increasing the amount of eelgrass in the pond. The project will be similar to the successfully completed restoration and enhancement project within Ninigret Pond.
The Nature Conservancy was awarded $50,000 for fish passage improvement on the Saugatucket River. The project will improve diadromous (migratory) fish access to 300 acres of spawning and rearing habitat in the river. The goal of the project is to increase the size of the sustainable diadromous fish population and the supply of forage species to recreational and commercial fish in the coastal stream, Point Judith Pond, and Block Island Sound.
A total of $21,405 was awarded to the University of Rhode Island and its partners for the restoration of diamondback terrapin nesting habitat on the Potowomut River in East Greenwich. URI and Rocky Hill School will develop long-term resilience strategies for the terrapins and native salt marsh habitat, and will plant native Spartina alterniflora, a critical salt marsh foundation species.
Save The Bay received $15,000 in Trust Fund monies for the removal of the Shady Lea Dam in North Kingstown. This project, which received Trust Fund awards in 2011, 2013, and 2015, will restore two acres of riverfront area and a half-mile of stream corridor of the Mattatuxet River up to Silver Spring Lake Dam. Shady Lea was upgraded from significant to high hazard after the 2010 floods. The project, which will be undertaken by Save The Bay, RI Department of Environmental Management, NOAA, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, will preserve historic elements of the fish ladder and hydro turbine. The design includes a small stone weir structures below the dam to ensure fish passage during low flow.
The Friends of Tunipus Pond and project partners Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust, The Nature Conservancy (RI), Sakonnet Preservation Association, and the Town of Little Compton Beach Commission received $13,000 for the restoration of Tunipus Pond marsh. Similar, successful projects have occurred at other coastal ponds in Little Compton, including Round Pond, Briggs Marsh, Long Pond and both the southern and northern ends of Quicksand Pond. The partners will restore the marsh and its native plant habitat through removal of the invasive Phragmites australis and monitoring, as well as planting of native plant species.
The Trust Fund also awarded $10,000 to the CRMC for analysis and coastal resilience using MyCoast tools. This project will assess sea level rise impacts on the natural and built environment using photographs submitted by citizen scientists with MyCoast, a web site and smartphone app that allows the public to submit real-time tidal and weather data. This will be used to ground truth STORMTOOLS flood modeling, a product of the CRMC’s RI Shoreline Change (Beach) Special Area Management Plan (SAMP). It will also include a component for training citizens on using the coastal resilience tool of MyCoast for documenting marsh conditions and migration.
DEM’s Mosquito Abatement Coordination Office received $10,000 in Trust Fund monies for the purchase of a mini-excavator for use in salt marsh restoration work. DEM uses two low-ground pressure excavators for numerous salt marsh management and restoration projects, but both are regularly damaged from salt and sand. This new machine will be available for 2019 projects, according to DEM, and will be modified with wide pads, which minimize damage to vegetation when it is used in salt marshes.
The Council awarded TNC $8,500 for salt marsh restoration at Goosewing Beach in Little Compton. The project includes restoration of the salt marsh within the coastal lagoon: the entire shoreline of Quicksand Pond, where it joins with the barrier beach and dune community (Goosewing Beach Preserve). A total of 16 acres extending over 4,000 feet of shoreline at Quicksand Pond will be restored through the elimination of invasive Phragmites and enhancement and protection of native plant communities. The project will build upon work funded by the Trust Fund awards in 2011 and 2015.
Taylor Point Restoration Association and the Town of Jamestown received $4,800 to continue their work on the restoration of Taylor Point through elimination of invasive plant species, and enhancement of native plant communities. This project received Trust Fund monies in 2016.
Habitat restoration projects funded through the RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund are recommended by the fund’s Technical Advisory Committee and approved by the RI Coastal Resources Management Council. Program funds come from the state’s Oil Spill Prevention Administration and Response Act (OSPAR), established by the legislature following the 1996 North Cape oil spill. Each year, the CEHRTF advisory committee, with approval of the CRMC allocates $225,000 from the OSPAR account to habitat restoration projects throughout the state.
“This year the CRMC was able to fully fund all of the proposals it received, including an important marsh restoration and elevation enhancement in Quonochontaug Pond, and ground-truthing sea level rise impacts through the MyCoast app,” said CRMC Executive Director Grover Fugate. “Having such a diverse group of projects year after year has allowed the CRMC and its partners to study impacts to these fragile coastal ecosystems and better prioritize their conservation and protection.”
To date and including this year, the Trust Fund has awarded $3.25 million for 121 projects, which have leveraged more than $23 million in matching funds. In its 14 years, the Trust Fund has helped to restore over 300 acres of coastal and estuarine habitat. Photos of the projects are available upon request.