Tag Archives: Gulf of Maine

It takes many hands to make our waters better for fish and people

Today we’re sharing a shout-out from one of our partners – Fish passage relies on partners! Thanks Garrison, and you couldn’t be more right. We’re fortunate to have incredible partners both in Maine and across the Northeast Region that are helping reconnect waters and install improved structures that benefit fish and preserve the roads and other infrastructure that communities depend upon.

Our staff out of the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program worked with the Town of Whitefield to replace an undersized culvert on Finn Brook in the Sheepscot River watershed that was causing severe road erosion and blocking fish passage. Culverts allow water to flow under roads, but when they aren’t the appropriate size, or are in need of replacement, they can lead to flooding and erosion and block any movement of fish or other animals in the waters. 

Undersized culvert

Sometimes you have to see it to believe it. Not much can fit through there, right? Imagine what happens when lots of water tries to flow through and instead erodes the land supporting the road. Not good for the road, or fish either. Credit: USFWS

We more than tripled the space for water flow by replacing a failing 3.5-foot metal culvert with a 12-foot concrete arch. Now the stream can function more naturally, more as if the road didn’t cross it at all. Fish, such as Atlantic salmon and brook trout, and other animals can pass right through it. We conducted stream simulation surveys, oversaw construction, developed restoration plans and helped the town win a grant from the Maine Water Bond for $74,000. Additional funding was provided by The Nature Conservancy, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Midcoast Conservancy.

whiculvert-4-2-color

Now this is more like it! A stabilized road and way more space to accommodate wildlife and water. Credit: USFWS

Fish Passage Relies on Partners
November 1, 2016 at 2:43 pm

To the editor (Lincoln County News):
Many Lincoln County residents have no doubt noticed the increased attention being given to dam and culvert projects in the region. None of these projects have happened without community support and tremendous partnerships across many sectors and agencies.

We always strive to ensure those partners are recognized for their contributions. Particularly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made outstanding contributions to assist the town of Whitefield in the recent culvert replacement on Vigue Road.

Not only did U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff travel regularly to Whitefield from their office in Falmouth,many staff added weeks of work to this project in construction planning, design, and implementation.

Their staff completed the in-depth permits for the Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service,researched and designed much of the application submitted to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection by the town of Whitefield, reviewed engineering plans, and supervised and guided construction, teaching all of us along the way.

Beyond the Vigue Road project, Fish and Wildlife Service staff have provided untold weeks of work toward our local water resources, assisting in nearly every other project which involves creating healthy, beneficial water systems.

All of this work has been, and continues to be provided at no direct cost to those they serve, contributing services to the Vigue Road project that would have otherwise easily cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.

These are the cases where government truly works to serve and support the many communities in which they work. We are forever grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for contributing to these projects, and look forward to continued future partnerships.

Garrison Beck
Wiscasset

Garrison is the watershed protection specialist at the Midcoast Conservancy in Maine.

This summer, 4th through 6th graders from the River Valley Charter School help pull invasive pepperweed plants from the salt marsh at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Pulling the Pernicious Pepperweed Plant

This summer, 4th through 6th graders from the River Valley Charter School help pull invasive pepperweed plants from the salt marsh at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Last month, 4th through 6th graders from the River Valley Charter School helped pull invasive pepperweed plants from the salt marsh at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Credit: Frances Rodriguez/USFWS

The pernicious perennial pepperweed plant is a fun tongue twister (repeat it 10 times), yet this coastal invader is no laughing matter. Native to Europe and Asia, it is classified as a noxious, invasive weed in 15 states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, and outcompetes native salt marsh grasses, which help to filter stormwater pollutants, buffer against storm damage, provide habitat to fish and wildlife and support recreational and commercial activities for local towns.

Since 2006, The Great Marsh Perennial Pepperweed Eradication Project has worked with numerous volunteers who have pulled thousands of pounds of pepperweed, or Lepidium latifolium, from the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and surrounding areas. With the help of many local partners such as Mass Audubon and local schools, more than 70 sites have been restored and counting.

Two students from the River Valley Charter School fill a garbage bag with invasive pepperweed plants, allowing native salt marsh grasses a chance to regenerate in the salt marsh at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Two students from the River Valley Charter School fill a garbage bag with invasive pepperweed plants, allowing native salt marsh grasses a chance to regenerate and create a more resilient salt marsh at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Frances Rodriguez/USFWS

Nancy Pau, wildlife biologist at the refuge, says supplemental recovery funds from Hurricane Sandy cover treatment of almost 100 percent of the pepperweed, where past funds only covered between 60 to 70 percent of the treatment needed.

For the past two years, the River Valley Charter School has helped Parker River National Wildlife Refuge staff battle dense stands of this aggressive mustard family plant, pulling pepperweed from 4.7 acres along the Plum Island Turnpike and along Plum Bush Down, a small residential area along the Great Marsh in Newburyport.

Lauren Healey (pictured above) and other team members from Gulf of Maine Institute and Newburyport High School removed 14 bags full of invasive pepperweed from the Great Marsh last month.

Lauren Healey (pictured above) and several other team members from Gulf of Maine Institute and Newburyport High School removed 14 bags full of invasive pepperweed from the Great Marsh last month. Credit: Lauren Healey/Gulf of Maine Institute

Last month, nearly two dozen 4th, 5th and 6th graders from the school held a repeat performance from the year before, pulling 15 large garbage bags full of plants from six areas where pepperweed control is badly needed.

“While the kids are having a good time and learning how to identify and properly pull the weeds, they are also turning the Great Marsh into a more resilient natural barrier that will help sustain wildlife and their own communities from future storms.” – Frances Toledo Rodriguez, Invasive Species Coordinator at Parker River Refuge

And that’s a perfectly good reason to publicize the peeps pulling pepperweed.

Related blog post: Restoring the Great Marsh

More about the Sandy-funded Great Marsh restoration project

More about the Great Marsh Pepperweed Eradication project

Meet the new leader of the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program!

Meet Jed Wright, the new project leader for the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program in Falmouth, Maine. Jed has worked with the Service for over 10 years. Learn more in this blog interview about him, his experience and goals for managing the program.

Photo courtesy of Jed.

Photo courtesy of Jed.

What is your professional background and experience with the Service?

Before joining the Service in 1994, I completed various graduate degrees and worked in Washington, D.C. and Southern Africa. Somehow I kept on ending up in countries that were in the midst of civil wars. I went to Bates College and always thought that Maine was a very special place–when a chance arose to move back to the state, I took it.

I began working for the Service in a position that was shared between Fisheries and Ecological Services programs and focused on habitat mapping for Atlantic salmon. Over the years, my work evolved to a broader focus on habitat assessment, protection and restoration projects. I really enjoy working with a diverse set of partners and I’ve worked hard to build capacity within agencies and conservation groups.

I’ve enjoyed working with Service staff throughout the region and nationally and always learned so much from other’s experiences.

What are your goals as the new project leader?

I’m really excited about my new role and the great opportunities ahead for the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program. The Coastal Program has a unique role and I look forward to building stronger linkages with other Service programs. I also look forward to reaching out to the next generation of conservation leaders by increasing internships, details, and fellowships that we offer.

There is a strong movement in Maine focused on restoring aquatic connectivity and I see our office continuing to play a large role in that arena.

Habitat protection and restoration efforts will play a role in the future at conserving not just present-day trust resources, but also in the ability of coastal ecosystems to respond to change and support coastal resources of the future and advance long-term conservation of critical habitat and species. I think it will be important for us to develop tools to assess how our habitat protection, restoration and management actions are contributing to resilience of coastal ecosystems in Maine.

Many of our local conservation partners don’t have access to facilities like the National Conservation Training Center and I’d like to see our office increase its focus on developing and hosting technical workshops.

Can you share a story about one of your greatest accomplishments at work so far? What you’ll bring from that experience to your new leadership role?

Managing the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund, a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation program, was a dynamic and rewarding experience. With a small amount of initial funding and a great deal of work from partners, I helped to permanently protect thousand of acres of riparian habitat, strengthen local conservation organizations, and develop innovative restoration approaches.

I see the lasting impact of the investments that we were able to make throughout Maine, especially in the area of aquatic connectivity. We recently completed a project in the Sandy River watershed in partnership with a small town. The town manager and road commissioner ended up committing their entire annual road budget to fix a serious fish passage problem. They spoke eloquently about their desire to be good stewards to the environment and their hope to restore fish passage throughout their watershed.

It’s clear that if you connect to people on an individual basis and look for shared values all sorts of great things are possible.

Check out this time lapse: Helping a town repair its road and improve fish habitat! A culvert on a busy town road in Phillips, Maine, was failing. The site was a priority for restoring Atlantic salmon and brook trout habitat. The folks at Jed’s office partnered with other organizations to secure enough funding, complete surveys and design and construct the new crossing, which was finished this month. The town is very happy with the results, and we hope that this project will serve as a model for additional municipal projects across Maine! Video credit: credit Alex Abbott (GOMCP)

Anything else you want to share with the community?

My interest in rivers and things aquatic stemmed from a childhood playing in our backyard stream. Many afternoons were spent racing sticks down through the currents or searching for fish. There were a few less benign activities including building numerous dams and once I and a cousin caused an avulsion that cut off a meander bend. My mom was not pleased with our radical change to the landscape.

I feel very lucky to have this job, to work with such a great group of colleagues and partners, and to be able to make amends up for all the impacts I caused to that small backyard stream.