MassDEP Rejects Premiting Appeal Allowing for Dead Neck Sampson’s Island Restoration

COTUIT – A project to restore Dead Neck Sampson’s Island between Cotuit and Osterville is one step closer to getting underway after a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection presiding officer rejected an appeal from residents.

The project, which is a collaboration between Mass Audubon and the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, would move 150,000 cubic yards of sand from one end of the Island to the other.

“Moving it to the other end of the island will create a habitat that is much more amenable particularly to piping plovers – that’s the main protected bird,” said Zenas Crocker, the executive director of the Coalition.

“There’s other birds like oyster catchers and others that use this area.”

Among the benefits of the restoration, water quality is expected to improve in Cotuit Bay by 3 to 7 percent.

Crocker said the restoration is needed due to the east to west current.

“When the Wianno cut was put in, when the change was made to allow a deep water access to some of the harbors in and around Osterville, it created a situation where you constantly have sand being pulled from one end of the island and deposited in the other end of the island.”

The movement of sand led to the constriction of the Cotuit cut.

“An area that used to be 1,400 feet wide when I was a kid is now a little bit over 200 feet wide,” Crocker said.

The project which will be completed in three phases required six permits.

The permitting process took six years and cost over $1 million.

The DEP commissioner now has 30 days to adopt and certify the decision. Permits allow for the first phase of the project to begin on October 15.

A small group of about a dozen residents in Cotuit challenged the permits for the project.

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