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Tides Flow Free Again in Brewster, Massachusetts

At the end of November, NOAA, the Town of Brewster and its partners, including the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod, Mass Bays Program, and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, completed major construction on the Stony Brook Salt Marsh and Fish Passage Restoration Project.

The project, which received $1.36 million in Recovery Act funds through NOAA, replaced a failing undersized culvert a state road with a much larger culvert. The new 18-foot concrete box culvert was sized to restore natural tidal flow to a 20-acre degraded salt marsh and enhance fish access to 386 acres of ponds. Completion of this project also marks a major milestone for proactive coastal restoration in the state of Massachusetts -- more than 1,000 acres of wetlands restored.

Historically, Stony Brook was a stream with extensive surrounding salt marsh. Human development altered the habitat: the first water-powered grist and woolen mill in the country was built on the brook in the late 1600s. Downstream, roads and culverts divided the salt marsh and constricted water flow between the Cape Cod Bay and Stony Brook.

“Salt marsh continues to be one of the most critical coastal habitats under the greatest threat from water pollution, antiquated infrastructure, development, invasive species and sea level rise,” said John Catena, Northeast Regional Supervisor of the NOAA Restoration Center. “We are thrilled that the Story Brook project helped push Massachusetts past the 1,000-acre mark for restored wetlands.”

Stony Brook is an unusual watershed on Cape Cod in that it supports both a large coastal wetland as well as a very large fish run, with 386 acres of spawning habitat for river herring, and habitat for American eels. The watershed also contains four rare species, more than 900 acres of protected open space, and the historic Stony Brook mill.

Through its Community-based Restoration Program and the Recovery Act, NOAA works to restore wetlands and reconnect tidal flow throughout the coastal United States. Our restoration specialists work to restore the flow of water to coastal systems, floodplains, and habitat along rivers. Learn more about tidal hydrology restoration, or view our new Tidal Hydrology Restoration Manual.

Deep-Sea Coral
The new, larger culvert at the Stony Brook Recovery Act project