Gloucester lands $310K state grant for fish habitat 12-10-14

Gloucester Times
Gloucester lands $310K state grant for fish habitat

Posted: Monday, December 8, 2014 5:00 am

By Arianna MacNeill Staff Writer

Restoring a portion of a natural habitat is part of the premise behind a $310,000 grant that the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs has extended to the city of Gloucester.

The award is part of the Coastal Zone Management Coastal Resilience Grant Program, which made $1.5 million in grants to seven municipalities — including the town of Manchester — throughout the state, according to an announcement from the office of Gov. Deval Patrick. The award to Gloucester is the single largest allocation in the package.

The project calls for removing structural as well as fill concrete near the West Gloucester water treatment plant, while also creating additional salt marsh habitat and helping to restore a floodplain.

The salt marsh "will buffer the shoreline from future storm damage and improve the habitat for native species in the Little River estuary," city officials said.

Gloucester Shellfish Constable David Sargent said the project is very important for three species of marine life — the alewife, American eel, and the rainbow smelt — all of which spawn and spend part of their lives in the nearby fresh water of Little River and Lilly Pond before heading for salt water.

A concrete fish ladder is currently in place to help them migrate, Sargent said, but a natural one will soon replace it with the help of the grant dollars.

A natural ladder is better for the marine life, he said, noting that migration is easier. But ridding the area of the concrete fish ladder is also a benefit to the surrounding area, Sargent added.

"When there's concrete, any time we got a fair amount of rain, it floods over the concrete fish ladder," he said, adding that this causes problems with the water treatment plant as well as some street flooding along Essex Avenue.

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