EPA Honors NWF and Partners for Post-Sandy Project

Boston, MA – The National Wildlife Federation today was presented by the New England office of the US Environmental Protection Agency with a 2017 Environmental Merit Award for their work leading the Great Marsh Resiliency Partnership in a large project to increase the resilience of New England’s largest saltwater estuary. NWF accepted the award in a ceremony at Faneuil Hall, along with representatives of major partners in the Great Marsh Resiliency Partnership, including Mass Audubon, Ipswich River Watershed Association, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, Boston University, University of New Hampshire, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and Office of Coastal Zone Management. The project was funded through the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency program and the Department of Interior.

“This award recognizes more than sixty partners working together in the Great Marsh to engage communities and holistically address the many threats facing this tremendous natural resource,” said Chris Hilke, National Wildlife Federation Senior Program Manager, who directs the project. “This project will protect Great Marsh communities from increasingly powerful storms and sea level rise while also protecting critical wildlife and habitat resources. Hurricane Sandy showed us that our coastal communities are ill-equipped to handle severe storms and flooding,” said Hilke. “With climate change expected to bring more of these mega-storms to our shores, it is imperative we do everything we can now to bolster our natural defenses for the future.”

The Merit Award annually recognizes outstanding environmental advocates and organizations for their significant contributions toward preserving and protecting natural resources.  
Project results over the past two years have been significant. To date:

The invasive species Pepperweed and Common reed have been fully eradicated from 400 acres of saltmarsh across the project geography.
Roughly 3,000 linear feet of dunes were established in front of vulnerable coastal infrastructure in Salisbury, MA, which included 3.5 acres of dune plantings and dune fencing (5,000 Iinear feet). Dune plantings were used as an opportunity to engage 350+ youth, 28 educators, hold 25 community trainings & community planting events.
Community resiliency Planning Teams have been established across the six shoreline communities. The Planning Teams have identified vulnerable high priority assets and the National Wildlife Federation & USGS have completed vulnerability assessments for each community and associated suite of vulnerable assets. Over 100 community-specific adaptation projects have been identified and prioritized.
The community vulnerability analyses and adaptation strategies are being integrated into a comprehensive Great Marsh Coastal Adaptation Plan due for completion in August 2017.
1200 hydro-barriers (dams, water crossings, culverts etc.) have been assessed and prioritized for retro fits and upgrades. Draft design specifications have been developed for the top 100 priority barriers.
Boston University (data inputs) and Woods Hole Group (model development) have developed a sediment transport model for the marsh (in partnership with numerous other entities) to inform future project implementation.

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