Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
State and Federal Officials Propose $1.5 Million of General Electric Settlement to Fund 6 Projects in Housatonic River Watershed
Public invited to comment on plan and attend meeting May 1 at Lenox Public Library

April 19, 2019

Contact(s):

Meagan Racey, USFWS: 413-253-8558

Ed Coletta, MassDEP:  617-292-5737



The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) have released the draft restoration plan for the fourth round of funding from the General Electric/Housatonic River natural resource damages assessment and restoration case settled in 2000. Public comments will be accepted through 5 p.m., May 15, 2019. A public meeting will be held May 1, 2019, at 5:30 p.m. at the Lenox Public Library (Welles Gallery), 18 Main Street, Lenox, Massachusetts, to present the restoration plan, answer questions and take public comments. 

MassDEP and the Service, which make up the Massachusetts SubCouncil of the Housatonic River Natural Resource Trustees, put out a grant request for a fourth round of restoration project ideas in 2018 and received 10 submissions with a total request of almost $2.2 million. The MA SubCouncil reviewed and evaluated the submissions and propose to fund six of the 10 projects, for a total cost of approximately $1.5 million. The six projects identified for funding in the draft restoration plan involve working with partners to restore brook trout habitat in Churchill Brook in Pittsfield, implementing an environmental education program focused on the Housatonic River watershed, restoring ecologically significant calcareous wetlands in the Housatonic River watershed, and implementing three land acquisition projects. Due to the sensitive nature of real estate transactions, details about the locations and characteristics of the proposed land acquisition projects will be released in the final plan, in which projects are officially selected to receive funding.

Round 4 makes available the final $1.5 million of a $7.75 million natural resource damages settlement with General Electric to fund restoration projects that restore, rehabilitate, replace, and/or acquire the equivalent of resources that were injured by the release of PCBs into the Housatonic River watershed in Massachusetts. According to Tom Chapman, the Service's New England Field Office project leader, “These six projects will restore a variety of habitats for fish and wildlife in the Housatonic River watershed, improve recreational and environmental stewardship opportunities in the watershed, and also help to reconnect people to the river.”

“The Commonwealth is pleased with the variety and strength of the proposals for this round of funding for the Housatonic River Watershed work,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We believe these projects will restore a variety of habitats that will benefit fish and wildlife populations, as well as recreational users, and provide watershed education programs in several affected communities.”

The plan, Draft Round 4 Restoration Plan and Supplemental Environmental Assessment, is subject to a 30-day public comment period. The document is available online at http://www.ma-housatonicrestoration.org/library.htm and in hard copy at the Lenox Library and other public libraries in the Housatonic River watershed. Written comments can be submitted until 5 p.m. on May 15, 2019 to:

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup
One Winter Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Re: BWSC-NRD-2018-12
Attn: Thomas M. Potter
thomas.potter@state.ma.us

For more information, contact Thomas M. Potter, MassDEP, state trustee representative and lead administrative trustee, at 617-292-5628 or thomas.potter@state.ma.us.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (collectively, the MA SubCouncil of the Housatonic River Natural Resource Trustees) are working together to restore injured natural resources and resource services resulting from the release of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous substances from General Electric’s facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. To achieve this purpose, the MA SubCouncil created a Massachusetts Housatonic River Watershed Restoration Program whereby local groups and citizens from the watershed can participate in planning and implementation of compensatory restoration. Compensatory restoration projects are projects that restore, rehabilitate, replace, and/or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources and/or the services provided by those resources.

The restoration program is structured to achieve restoration through several funding rounds, three of which have been accomplished to-date. Ten restoration projects were funded as part of the Round 1 Restoration Plan / Supplemental Environmental Assessment (RP/SEA) released in October 2007 (Round 1); four habitat restoration projects were funded in the Round 2 RP/SEA released in June 2011 (Round 2); and six restoration projects were funded as part of the two sub-rounds of the Round 3 RP/SEA released in May 2013 (Round3). Approximately $1.5 million is available for funding restoration and/or land acquisition projects in Round 4 of the Restoration Program.

Learn more


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.