...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders
CRMC funds five habitat restoration projects
May 17, 2023, Wakefield —The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has awarded funding for five habitat restoration projects in the 20th year of its RI Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund (CEHRTF).
The Council heard recommendations for funding at the April 24, 2023 semi-monthly virtual meeting from the Fund’s Technical Advisory Committee, which is co-chaired by CRMC and the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Projects approved by the Council for funding this year include a dam removal assessment, fish passage restoration at Rodman Mill Dam and at Hunts Mill, habitat restoration and improvements, and invasive species management. 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.
The Trust Fund awarded $60,500 in partial funding to The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island and its partners to conduct additional assessments, construction and design of fish passage improvements at the Hunts Mill Dam section of the Ten Mile River in East Providence. Following construction of the Hunts Mill Dam fish ladder in 2010-2012 it was determined that rock ledge cut below the entrance to the ladder made the channel impassible to fish at periods of low flow, as well as when water velocity is high, making fish passage challenging. To remedy this, a solution was designed and constructed in 2020 consisting of three step pools and four weirs. The temporary structures were used and studied, leading to the conclusion that they’d be suitable for fish conveyance with some adjustments. The final project will consist of five weirs made of concrete to be built in the side channel on the right side of the river. The Ten Mile River has received funding in years past for a variety of restoration and enhancement efforts.
Ten Mile River Watershed Council in coordination with RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and Save The Bay, received $50,000 for the preliminary engineering assessments of removal of the Ten Mile River Reservation Dam in Pawtucket. The project partners plan to remove the dam to restore fish passage and restore a free-flowing river channel. Removal has been deemed preferable since it will remove a barrier to fish and aquatic organism passage and allow for upstream migration for anadromous fish. The project will also restore the floodplain habitat, replacing the current warm water impoundment with a free-flowing river and improving water quality and river habitat conditions. This project has received previous CEHRTF funding in 2021 and 2022.
The Council awarded $50,000 in Trust Fund monies to the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC) and its partners for the final phase of the restoration and habitat work on the Woonasquatucket River, this time for in-water and bank habitat improvements below Manton Dam in Johnston. WRWC will conduct an in-stream and bank stabilization program, including the addition of native plans and revegetation that will provide significantly improved habitat for small mammals, birds, and pollinators in addition to protecting the fishway. Planting will also occur directly around the fishway and an outdoor classroom at the fishway will be built. This project component is new, but it supports a project that has a long history with CRMC and the CEHRTF, the Manton Pond Dam nature-like fishway, which received funding in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2021 for a variety of project components.
Save The Bay and RIDEM were awarded $40,500 for restoration of legacy agricultural and mosquito control impacts to Galilee Salt Marsh. The marsh became tidally restricted from Point Judith Pond in 1956 with the construction of the Galilee Escape Road, which originally only included one undersized culvert. As a result, the salt marsh has become dominated by Phragmites australis over the next four decades. In 1997 RIDEM installed four self-regulating tide gates, which restored tidal exchange throughout the marsh complex and increased native salt marsh vegetation. Increased inundation has reduced suitable nesting habitat and the inability of the marsh to drain after high tides or storm events increases the chances of nest and chick loss. The funds will be used an equipment operator, the use and transportation of RIDEM’s low-ground pressure excavator and Save The Bay’s staff time to implement the restoration project to create runnels to improve marsh drainage, and to monitor the site.
Save The Bay, the Town of North Kingstown and other partners received $24,000 for assessment of dam removal at the Rodman Mill Dam and associated site improvements to enhance climate resilience on the Annaquatucket River in North Kingstown. Removal of the dam would restore a one-acre millpond to a riverine system and open approximately 2.7 miles of stream habitat for anadromous fish passage. The section of river proposed for restoration was dammed and channelized more than 150 years ago when the Rodman Mill Dam was built to support mill operations at the mill complex, which processed cotton and wool from the 1840s to the mid-1900s.The assessment will help to better understand restoration options and will include a dam removal reconnaissance study.
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.
“The Rhode Island Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund is 20 years old this year, and this year experienced the culmination of multiple years of funding and involvement with efforts like the Ten Mile River and Manton Pond projects, which received six rounds of Trust Fund monies, as well as continued salt marsh improvements like that in Galilee,” said CRMC Executive Director Jeff Willis. “The CRMC is honored to have been a vital part of this work for two decades.”
Rhode Island has greatly benefitted from the OSPAR funding made available through the Trust Fund, and the agencies and organizations involved in the process have worked well together towards this common goal.”
To date and including this year, the Trust Fund has awarded more than $4.5 million for 160 projects, which have leveraged more than $31 million in matching funds. In its 20 years, the Trust Fund has helped to restore over 300 acres of coastal and estuarine habitat, as well as restore fish passage in numerous communities throughout the state. The full report is on the CRMC web site at http://www.crmc.ri.gov/habitatrestoration.html.