Ground broken for Eel River Headwaters Restoration Project, Plymouth
Ground is broken for Eel River Headwaters Restoration Project, Plymouth
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (October 30, 2009) -- Local, state and federal
officials gathered to dig the first scoop of earth and plant the first of 17,000
Atlantic White Cedar trees at the site
where dramatic improvements will be made to wetland and riverine habitat in the
headwaters of the Eel River, a small spring-fed system that drains to Plymouth
River and wetland restoration activities are now underway that
will result in new and more abundant fish and wildlife, help the local ecology
be more resilient in the face of future stress, and enhance public use of
conservation land now and for the future.
The project area includes approximately 40 acres of retired cranberry bogs,
as well as the Sawmill Pond Dam, a small stone dam and impoundment located
downstream of the bogs. Now known as the Eel River Preserve, the area is managed
by the Town of Plymouth for public use and benefit.
Restoration activities in the bogs will include reconstruction of a natural
stream channel, placement of in-stream habitat features, filling of artificial
side channels, removal of berms and water control structures, and replacement of
undersized culverts to enhance fish passage. Sawmill Pond Dam will be
re-configured to allow fish passage, and a restored river channel and floodplain
will be rebuilt in the existing impoundment.
Rare wetland plant communities will also be reestablished. Over 24,000 plants
including more than 17,000 Atlantic white cedar trees will be planted. This is
the first large scale restoration of this rare wetland type in Massachusetts.
Project partners include the Town of Plymouth, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the
Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game's Division of Ecological Restoration,
the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, The Nature
Conservancy, American Rivers, and the Corporate Wetlands Restoration
Partnership. NRCS is providing technical assistance and partial funding through
the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
"Not only does this site have environmental importance, but it’s also part of
the rich history of the Town of Plymouth and the cranberry growing region of
Southeastern Massachusetts," said Beth Schreier, NRCS WRP program manager in her
remarks at the event. "We’re pleased to have provided more than $300,000 in
federal funding for conservation easements and a portion of the restoration
costs for the Eel River Preserve through WRP."
Past agricultural activities resulted in the removal of trees, modification
of the stream channel, and construction of upland berms and water control
structures. The downstream dam is a barrier to fish migration and the
impoundment affects habitat, water quality and natural riverine processes.
The Eel River Headwaters Restoration Project will improve fish passage,
promote a healthy coldwater fishery, improve water quality, establish rare
wetland communities, and provide the public with recreational and educational
opportunities. The increased biological diversity in the headwaters area will
improve ecological resilience.
As a cold-water fishery, the restored stream will
provide suitable habitat for temperature-sensitive species, such as brook trout.
The restored landscape will be connected to other conservation land, providing
migration corridors for a variety of species while also becoming part a
recreational trail that interprets the historical use of the area. The project
will also provide conservationists with valuable information that will guide
other wetland restoration efforts. And, future generations will inherit and
enjoy the Eel River Preserve.
The Eel River Preserve was historically a wetland known as “Finney’s Meadow.”
The river once flowed uninterrupted to the ocean and supported an array of
wildlife. In the early 1800s, a series of mills and dams were constructed.
Cranberry farming began in the late 1800s and continued until 2002.
In 2006, Plymouth’s Community Preservation Committee purchased cranberry bogs
from the Phoenix Cranberry Corporation. This land abutted other town-owned
property purchased with CPA funds from cranberry grower Ashley Holmes.
A partnership including the the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern
Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, the USDA Natural
Resources Conservation Service, the Nature Conservancy, the Hornblower
Foundation, the Sheehan Family Foundation and local residents funded
conservation easements, the land purchase and some of the restoration costs. The
town converted the entire area to public conservation land.
The majority of site restoration activities are expected to be completed by
2011, with follow-up monitoring and planting for several additional years as
For more information:
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Eel River Headwaters
Restoration Project Fact Sheet