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State announces Grants to Restore Rivers, Increase Climate Readiness

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced $97,397 in state grant funds for priority projects in the City of Northampton, and the Towns of Duxbury, Middleton, and West Boylston to remove dams, aid in the restoration of rivers to their natural state, and increase climate readiness.

Benefits of river restoration include increased habitat for fish and wildlife, flood management, landscape development, and an increase in recreational opportunities and access. The grant funds are administered by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). 

“By working with local communities and organizations, the Baker-Polito Administration is able to assist in the removal of aging dams, which will reduce the impact of floods, and improve ecosystems and habitats,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The projects receiving funding benefit local, regional, and state economies by creating and sustaining jobs within the construction, engineering, and nursery industries.”

Locally, work will include Upper Roberts Meadow Brook Restoration and Upper Roberts Meadow Brook Dam Removal in Northampton, to be funded with a $25,000 state grant.

The brook is a cold water stream with a resident trout population. Removal of the 30-foot high dam will provide numerous environmental benefits, including conversion of the dam impoundment back to a free-flowing reach, re-connection of approximately nine miles of upstream habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms, and repair of ecological processes that support a healthy stream system including the movement of sediment and organic matter. This grant will support the city in completing the permitting phase, conducting the bid phase, and beginning the project implementation phase. 

Priority projects are evaluated by DER on their ecological benefit, cost, size, practicality, feasibility, contribution to climate readiness, opportunity for public education and recreation, available program resources, and partner support. They are chosen through a state-wide, competitive process, with selected projects commencing when the DER issues a pre-Request for Responses (RFR). Eligible applicants include municipalities, private property owners, non-profits, and academic institutions. Selected projects are also eligible to receive technical services such as data collection, engineering, design work, and permitting; project management and fundraising assistance from DER staff; and small grants.

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