EPA Providing More Than $335,000 to Massachusetts for Wetlands Projects
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced $335,559 in grants to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and two non-governmental organizations for programs and projects that will protect, manage and restore wetlands across the state. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) received $122,001 in grants and the governor's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs received $35,185. The University of Massachusetts Amherst received $125,000 and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control received $53,373. EPA expects to award a second round of these grants in the same amounts later this year.
The funds were provided through EPA's Wetland Program Development Grant program, which enables state, local and tribal governments to conduct a range of projects that promote research and pollution reduction efforts related to wetlands. In 2019, EPA awarded $1,323,000 in Wetland Program Development Grant funds across the six New England states.
"Wetlands provide a range of important benefits to ecosystems and local communities across New England, including critical habitat for various species of wildlife and natural buffers against flooding," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "These grants exemplify EPA's commitment to helping our state and local partners further their wetlands research and protection programs that will have lasting impacts for decades to come."
"Wetlands protect our shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "These federal grants will improve our customer service and deliver environmental results by helping our communities design cost-effective infrastructure repairs and upgrades to achieve more resilient communities."
Information on the funded projects:
MassDEP received funding for a project for facilitating river and stream crossing improvements in the Commonwealth. The project will develop tools that will help facilitate wetland permitting of river and stream crossing replacement projects to improve aquatic organism passage for fish and wildlife statewide and promote resiliency for future flood flows.
The Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs received funding for a project on salt marsh sustainability that will inform the commonwealth's comprehensive salt marsh management strategy. The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management will assess, manage protect, and restore coastal wetlands by detecting trends in marsh microhabitats; provide outreach on a salt marsh vulnerability metric and assess sediment dynamics; and evaluate dredging practices to inform best practices for maintaining the availability of sediments for salt marshes.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst received funding for a project to develop more effective metrics related to assessing ecological integrity of salt marshes using unmanned aerial systems technology. The university will use unmanned aerial systems to collect data at critical times in the tide cycle and test the potential of using various sensors to assess vegetation health and stress, flooding dynamics, and physical characteristics of salt marshes. The goal is to use unmanned aerial systems technology as part of a nested approach to remote sensing to assess vulnerability to flooding and the physical and biological condition of salt marshes.
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control received funding to provide logistical facilitation of and support for the New England Biological Assessment Wetland Work Group by providing overall support for wetland programs to establish, improve or refine wetlands monitoring and assessment methods, including biological assessment.
For more information on the Wetland Program Development Grants, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetland-program-development-grants-and-epa-wetlands-grant-coordinators.