State Awards Over $95K to Protect Buzzards Bay Watershed

Massachusetts State House.

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration has awarded over $95,000 in federal grants for land protection and water quality projects in the Buzzards Bay watershed.

The $95,419 of federal funds will help the Towns of Rochester and Gosnold protect critical habitat and allow the Town of Mattapoisett and its partner, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, to continue important water quality monitoring in Buzzards Bay.

The three grants are being matched by $79,540 in private contributions and in-kind services that will support the protection of important habitat in the region.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting local efforts to protect natural resources and promote sustainable outdoor recreation, and these grants provide needed funding and leverage to secure important local projects,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides.

“This local, state and federal partnership ensures the protection of Buzzards Bay, improves water quality and habitat health, and provides the public access to enjoy this beautiful area.”

The grants are being awarded by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (NEP) through the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The following grants were awarded:

The Town of Gosnold, and its partner the Buzzards Bay Coalition, will receive $20,419 toward the permanent protection of over 300 acres of undeveloped land on the island of Cuttyhunk. The funding will help match other state grants to acquire and protect 79 acres of privately owned, undeveloped land and secure a permanent conservation restriction on approximately 230 additional donated acres.

“Cuttyhunk is a hidden coastal gem of Massachusetts. It’s size and isolated nature make it all the more important to preserve the land, coastlines, and water sources that sustain the local residents as well as the environment and marine ecosystems,” said State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth).

“We thank the administration for prioritizing these projects and preserving this natural beauty for future generations to come.”

The project area contains designated habitat for rare species. This project will also protect more than five miles of coastal shoreline and the island’s only drinking water supply.

“The Town of Gosnold has always been environmentally conscious when it comes to conservation of its islands and this holds true for Cuttyhunk,” said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro).

“This beautiful island hosts a nature preserve full of piping plovers, least terns, Massachusetts’ American oystercatchers, White-tail deer and various New England wildflowers. The island’s ecosystem and unique coastal shoreline will be further protected with the land that today’s grant will help acquire.” 

Mattapoisett and its partner, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, will receive $30,000 to continue the Baywatchers monitoring program, which measures nutrient pollution in Buzzards Bay. For 27 years, this long-term monitoring program has collected basic water quality, nutrient, and algal pigment information at over 200 locations around Buzzards Bay during the summer months.

“I have always worked to protect the watershed and the water quality of Buzzards Bay starting with my work on the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission years ago. Preserving this important natural resource can continue with these timely grant awards,” said State Representative Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett).

The program also educates the public on their local water quality. The data collected is used by both state and local natural resource managers to make informed water quality related decisions.

The Town of Rochester and its partner – the Rochester Land Trust, will receive $45,000 to purchase and permanently protect 20.9 acres of undeveloped land in the Mattapoisett River aquifer, which provides drinking water to four communities in the Buzzards Bay watershed.

The property, which is mostly wooded with a perennial stream, contains designated habitat for rare species. Once acquired, the land will be owned and managed by the Rochester Land Trust, which will provide access to the public for passive recreational activities.

“Congress declared Buzzards Bay an estuary of national significance more than 30 years ago to protect and restore its vital natural resources,” said Congressman Bill Keating.

“These grants meet that goal by protecting habitat and providing data from citizen scientists to help formulate science-based solutions at the local level. Ensuring that funding is available for the National Estuary Program, and the Southern New England Program, have long been one of my top priorities in Congress. These grants will help to continue the work of restoring Buzzards Bay to its pristine state.”

The Office of Coastal Zone Management is EEA’s lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues. Created in 1985, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program provides grants and technical assistance to Buzzards Bay watershed communities to protect and restore water quality and natural resources in Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed and is one of 28 similar programs designated by the EPA.

By TIM DUNN, News Center 

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