Conserving the Nature of America
June 14 Meeting to Launch Upper Neponset River Watershed Restoration Planning
Environmental Agencies Seek Natural Resource Restoration Ideas

May 12, 2016


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Fall river photo

A fall photo of Fowl Meadow, wetlands that help manage water levels from the Neponset River. Image from Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: User BostonPhotoSphere/Bill Ilot
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Residents living near the Upper Neponset River are encouraged to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), represented by the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) develop a $1 million plan to restore wetlands, streams and groundwater resources in the watershed. MassDEP and the Service will present an overview of the restoration process and opportunities for public involvement on Tuesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at the Walpole Public Library at 143 School Street.   

The restoration plan will compensate for injuries to migratory birds, fish and their habitats caused by contamination from the 22-acre Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund site in Walpole. The operation of various industrial facilities dating back to the 19th century contaminated the site with asbestos, arsenic, lead and other hazardous substances. The Departments of Justice and Interior secured $1 million in 2011 from former owners and site operators to fund natural resource restoration projects.

At the public meeting, agency representatives will describe 1) the natural resource injuries that led to the monetary settlement; 2) the types of restoration projects eligible for inclusion in the restoration plan; 3) the process by which restoration project ideas will be evaluated; and 4) the timeline for drafting, finalizing and implementing the restoration plan.   

The agencies will evaluate project ideas suggested at the public meeting – as well as those suggested by natural resource management experts, municipalities and other stakeholders – and develop a draft restoration plan. The draft restoration plan will then be released to the public for review and comment.

MassDEP, representing EEA, and the Service, representing the Department of the Interior, comprise the Natural Resource Trustee Council for the Blackburn and Union Superfund site settlement. Through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program, trustee councils identify the natural resources injured, determine the extent of the injuries, recover damages from those responsible, and plan and carry out natural resource restoration activities. The primary benefit of the program is that injured natural resources can be restored at no cost to the American taxpayers. Instead, the parties responsible for the injuries pay for the restoration. 

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