Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Muddy Creek Restoration Project underway to restore habitat and enhance natural defenses against storm surge

January 28, 2016


Eric Derleth, FWS New England Field Office

603-223-2541 ext. 6417

David Eisenhauer, FWS Public Affairs


Initial removal of the MA Rte. 28 road surface and roadbed. Credit: USFWS

Chatham and Harwich, Mass. – The towns of Harwich and Chatham in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have begun construction on a tidal marsh restoration project to enhance natural coastal defenses against storm surge.

The project aims to restore a mix of estuarine and subtidal wetlands, improve water quality and restore passage for fish that migrate between fresh and saltwater. This includes removing twin undersized stone culverts under Massachusetts Route 28 and replacing them with a new 94-foot span bridge and open channel.

The $5.2 million project is supported by $3.3 million in federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery and a $1 million National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant administered by the FWS with the remaining funds provided by the towns, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Improved tidal flow under the new bridge will restore a diversity of wetland types, improve water quality, restore shellfish habitat, and improve passage of fish and wildlife from Pleasant Bay to Muddy Creek for species such as the alewife and American eel,” said Eric Derleth, FWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife coordinator for Massachusetts. He added that the new bridge with a restored tidal channel and saltmarsh will have a greater ability to withstand future coastal storm events.

“Muddy Creek drains nearly 60 acres of salt marsh,” said Congressman Bill Keating, D-MA. “The removal of the outdated culverts will make this habitat available for the spawning of American eels and alewife, which provide a basic food stock for many species of the Cape’s commercial fisheries.  The restoration of the tidal flow to the Muddy Creek Marsh will improve water quality in Pleasant Bay as well as making this area more resilient against the onslaught of record storm surges. I commend Fish and Wildlife Service and the Towns of Harwich and Chatham for their commitment to restoring yet another of the Cape’s restricted waterways to its natural state.”

Derleth noted the project is the culmination of more than a decade of study undertaken by the towns of Chatham and Harwich, FWS, Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, Pleasant Bay Alliance, Cape Cod Conservation District and Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Construction is expected to take about 4 months, during which time Route 28 will be closed to traffic.

To read more about the Muddy Creek restoration project, click here. To read more about other FWS Hurricane Sandy projects in Massachusetts, click here. To view photos, click here. To learn more about other FWS Hurricane Sandy recovery and resilience projects, visit the Hurricane Sandy Recovery website.

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