$1 Million Received for Saugus, MA, Marsh Restoration

Massachusetts received $1 million in funding to restore the Rumney Marsh in Saugus from the Obama Administration’s U.S Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant Program (NCWCG).

“It is rare that we have the opportunity to protect and restore critical piece of wildlife habitat right in Boston’s backyard,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “This funding will make it possible to restore an expansive marshland that provides habitat for migratory birds, shellfish and other wildlife, as well as recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, walking and bird watching.”

Designated as an
Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC),
the Rumney Marshes
is among the most biologically significant salt marshes north
of Boston.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), in partnership with the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), will conserve 297 acres of salt marsh, tidal creek and upland buffer within DCR’s 815-acre Rumney Marsh Reservation and restore the 33-acre Ballard Street Salt Marsh in Saugus with funding received from the grant.

“A growing number of hikers, sportsmen, sea kayakers and canoeists visit this urban refuge every season and this project reaffirms our commitment to act as stewards to this signature recreational and habitat-rich area,” said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert Jr.

The marshes, which comprise 2,000 acres of extensive salt marsh and tidal creeks that back the beaches in Nahant, Revere, and Winthrop, are the largest contiguous area of salt marsh in the Boston metropolitan area.

Designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the Rumney Marshes is among the most biologically significant salt marshes north of Boston and is vital to the wildlife, water quality, and economy of the Boston Harbor region.

While its conservation value is appreciated today, more than 40 percent of the Rumney Marshes pre-Colonial extent was filled to make way for development over hundreds of years. Additional areas, such as the 33-acre Ballard Street Marsh, are impacted by road crossings, tide gates, and undersized culverts that bisect the marsh and reduce tidal flow.

As part of the project, DCR will reaffirm the permanent conservation of 297 acres within its Rumney Marsh Reservation, leveraging $1 million in NCWCG funding to restore the Ballard Street Salt Marsh. At Ballard Street, relocation of a tide gate and undersized culverts will restore tidal flow to the marsh, while excavation of fill will expose additional salt marsh habitat, increase flood storage capacity, improve drainage, and provide flood protection the adjacent neighborhood along Eastern Avenue in Saugus.

DCR and DER have been working with a broad array of project partners for several years to secure funding, develop engineering design plans, perform preliminary site assessments, and initiate permitting. Funding for restoration from the NCWCG program is a significant advancement for this ambitious project, whose ultimate price tag will exceed $1.7 million for the 33-acre restoration.

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