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CRMC funds six habitat restoration projects
March 18, 2019, WAKEFIELD – The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has awarded funding for six habitat restoration projects in the 16th round of its RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund (CEHRTF).
The Council approved the funding at the March 12 semi-monthly meeting in Providence. Projects approved for funding include two salt marsh restoration and resilience enhancement projects, two projects involving fish passage or riverine habitat improvements, and one urban pollinator habitat project. As with the previous 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.
Bristol County Water Authority and its partners were awarded $75,000 from the Trust Fund for the first phase of a project to remove the Upper Kickemuit River dam in Warren. The work to be done includes design, engineering and permitting of a project that will restore 16 acres of anadromous fish habitat and freshwater wetlands. In 2007, DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and its partners constructed a fish ladder at the Lower Kickemuit River dam, but the river herring population has not recovered since that time partly because of check valves on the flow outlets of the upper dam. The dam’s removal will be the first step in abandoning this vulnerable drinking water supply and will enhance river connectivity, improve fish passage into the upper river, increase freshwater wetland habitat and reduce infrastructure flooding.
The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island received $60,000 in Trust Fund monies for improving fish passage at the Hamilton Fish Ladder in North Kingstown. Project partners aim to improve upstream and downstream passage for the diadromous fish runs in the Annaquatucket River Watershed by installing a small concrete weir on the dam’s apron, and modifying the staging pool to raise water elevation via a rock weir at the downstream end of the pool. The project aims to increase the size of the anadromous fish population and eventual supply of forage species to recreational and commercial fish in the watershed, Lower Narragansett Bay, and Rhode Island Sound. Work is slated to begin at the dam in late summer to early fall of 2019.
This was the second year of funding for the salt marsh restoration and enhancement project in Quonochontaug Pond, with $50,000 awarded to CRMC for a collaborative project with partners Save The Bay, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] and the Town of Charlestown. The project includes restoring approximately 30 acres of salt marsh and eelgrass habitat, and will raise the elevation of the Quonochontaug marsh using material dredged from the pond. The project is similar to the successfully completed restoration and enhancement project at Ninigret. Dredging and distribution of the material onto the marsh surface was completed in January 2019. The Save The Bay is planning planting efforts for this spring. The Trust Fund monies will go toward the planting, as well as grading adjustments, creek excavation, and invasive plant management.
A total of $18,100 was awarded to the Watch Hill Conservancy for enhancing ecosystem resilience at Napatree Point. The project includes invasive species management in restoration sites and other sensitive parts of Napatree, and directing visitors away from closed trails and plant restoration sites using cedar fencing that will not impede sand movement. The WHC found 25 different sites along the point that need invasive management, and the work will be completed in the spring and late summer to fall of 2019 (to be completed by December 2019). This project received Trust Fund monies in 2015 and 2017.
The Trust Fund awarded $16,900 to the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council for the construction of the San Souci Drive Separated Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility along the river, in Providence. The project will add green infrastructure, and enhance local habitat value – includes construction of a bicycle and pedestrian greenway. Trust Fund monies will be used for native and pollinator-friendly plantings to enhance the habitat value of the green infrastructure practices, buffers and riverbank areas. Construction is slated to begin in spring of 2019.
Save The Bay received $5,000 for salt marsh adaptation and migration facilitation along Hundred Acre Cove in Barrington. Save The Bay and the Town of Barrington are using the results of the Rhode Island Salt Marsh Assessment and CRMC’s Sea Level Rise Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) Report to identify adaptation sites and migration corridors along Hundred Acre Cove. The partners have identified a northern site on the west side of Route 114 near the town line, and a southern site just west of Route 114. Adaptation techniques will be used on the sites, mosquito breeding habitat will be assessed, and each site will have a marsh adaptation plan.
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.
“Because they serve many functions, from shoreline protection to improving water quality, restoring and enhancing natural areas and habitats is a very cost-effective way to increase Rhode Island’s resiliency to climate change and sea level rise,” said Grover Fugate, executive director of the CRMC.To date and including this year, the Trust Fund has awarded $3.4 million for 127 projects, which have leveraged more than $27 million in matching funds. In its 16 years, the Trust Fund has helped to restore over 300 acres of coastal and estuarine habitat. Photos of the projects are available upon request.