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Massachusetts Awarded Over $375K to Boost Wetlands Protection
Release Date: 01/09/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017
(Boston, Mass. – Jan. 9, 2009) – More than $375,000 of EPA grant money will help Massachusetts advance projects to protect wetlands.
The Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) and the Mass. Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) will share the EPA funding, designed to assist the state with two projects: expanding freshwater and coastal wetlands monitoring and assessment methodologies; and refining mapping and characterization of the state’s coniferous forested wetlands.
“Wetlands are incredibly important to the health and well-being of our environment, and provide tangible benefits to our communities,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Wetlands help store floodwaters, purify and increase our drinking water supplies, provide habitat for wildlife and recreation for citizens. We’re proud to work to improve wetland protection here in New England.”
For nearly two decades EPA has awarded Wetland Program Development Grants to state agencies, federally-recognized Native American tribes, local governments, and interstate associations seeking to improve wetland protection though research, training, mapping, and other mechanisms. In recent years, EPA identified three priority areas for grant applicants to address in their proposed projects: developing a comprehensive wetland monitoring and assessment program; improving the effectiveness of wetland compensatory mitigation; and refining the protection of particularly vulnerable wetland types, such as vernal pools.
Mass DEP will develop a site-level methodology to assess the ecological health of freshwater wetlands, and then use that method to calibrate its broader landscape scale assessment method to better predict ecological integrity. The DEP also will adapt its wetlands monitoring and assessment methodology to include coastal wetlands. The Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management office joins the DEP as a new partner and will manage the coastal aspects of this project.
The Massachusetts NHESP will better document the range and variations of the state’s conifer-dominated forested wetlands. Using an existing state GIS wetlands database, the NHESP database and state forest cover types, NHESP will locate and visit many of these conifer wetlands. Vegetation and condition data will be collected and permanent plots established, and these efforts will improve classification and characterization of the community types to improve the ability of the state and municipalities to better protect these wetland resources.
The Massachusetts grants are part of a region-wide funding pool for wetland grants in New England totaling more than $1.7 million. Other wetlands projects are being funded by EPA in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
More information: Wetlands issues in New England (epa.gov/ne/topics/ecosystems/wetlands.html)
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