West Environmental, Inc. has been contracted to identify freshwater wetland mitigation, restoration, and preservation opportunities in 19 coastal/estuarine communities.
This project has two parts. The first part involves the inventory or preservation, restoration, and creation of opportunity sites. A list will be created of approximately 6-10 opportunity sites (for each of the 19 coastal communities) in the following categories:
- Preservation of Wetland Buffers.
- Restoration of Degraded Wetlands.
- Wetland Creation/Mitigation Opportunities.
A description of each site will include its location (GIS), environmental benefits of a potential project, scope of the work needed for a potential project, and the approximate size of the site.
The methodology and criteria identifying the sites within each category has been developed with the assistance of an advisory committee. A tentative list of the criteria will include:
Preservation of Wetland Buffers: Buffers around prime wetlands, areas with rare or endangered species, important wildlife areas, large wetland systems, multi-town wetland complexes, and proximity to other conservation areas.
Restoration of Degraded Wetlands: Flood-prone areas, severely degraded wetlands, and fill storage areas.
Creation/Mitigation Opportunities: Old gravel pits, opportunities for stormwater cleanup, and wildlife habitat.
The sites will be ranked "high," "medium," and "low" based on features such as feasibility, priority as resources, town versus privately-owned land, natural heritage sites, unique/exemplary communities, and connection with other conservation lands.
Thus far, out of the 19 towns inventoried, there are 121 potential "preservation" sites, 35 potential "restoration" sites, and potential 31 "creation" sites.
The second part involves outreach to the communities. At regional or town-specific meetings, West Environmental will discuss the inventory, advise communities on how best to use the inventory, identify funding opportunities for proactive projects, and introduce model ordinance and state mitigation rules. Together with the list of restoration and protection opportunities, towns will have a comprehensive set of tools for better wetland protection.
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