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Contact: Carrie Phillips, Chief of Natural Resources Management, 508 349 3785
Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent George Price and Herring River Restoration Committee Chairman Gary Joseph invite the public to participate in two upcoming meetings to provide input on the Herring River Restoration Project. The first meeting will be held Thursday, August 14, 2008 from 2 PM to 4:30 PM at the Wellfleet Senior Center, and the second meeting will be Wednesday, September 24, 2008, from 7 PM to 9:30 PM at the Wellfleet Senior Center.
The Herring River is the largest estuary on outer Cape Cod. It stretches four miles from its headwater kettle ponds in north Wellfleet to its mouth at Wellfleet Harbor. The river's floodplain encompasses more than 1,100 acres of degraded wetlands occupying a complicated network of five valleys. The Chequessett Neck Road dike, built in 1908, along with smaller dikes, culverts, and ditches upstream have impeded natural tidal flows and effectively drained the normally saturated soil. The once expansive and thriving salt marshes have been transformed into almost impenetrable stands of non-native, invasive plants, shrubby thickets, and forests. The old salt marsh peat, deprived of the tides, has decomposed and compressed, effectively sinking the surface of the floodplain. The decaying peat also releases sulfuric acid which can leach into the river and kill fish and other aquatic life. At times, water in the Herring River is as acidic as vinegar. In addition to high acidity, low summertime dissolved oxygen - also caused by the lack of tidal flushing - makes survival tough for aquatic life.
In 2005, Cape Cod National Seashore and the Town of Wellfleet formed the Herring River Technical Committee to evaluate the feasibility of restoring tidal flows to the Herring River. The Technical Committee's work culminated in a Conceptual Restoration Plan that demonstrated restoration is feasible.
Inspired by the work and findings of the Technical Committee, Cape Cod National Seashore, the Town of Wellfleet, and the Town of Truro have joined with Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service to restore tide to the Herring River. Together, these entities have formed the Herring River Restoration Committee to guide to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for restoration of the Herring River.
These public input meetings are known as "scoping meetings." Scoping is the first step to involve the public in the environmental impact analysis process. The meetings will provide an opportunity to learn about the project and provide input on the issues, information, and alternatives that should be considered during development of an EIS/EIR. Because the EIS/EIR will analyze many complex ecological and social issues, your participation is encouraged and needed.
In addition to oral comment at the public meetings, written comments can be provided electronically at http://parkplanning.nps.gov (select “Cape Cod NS” and follow the link to the Herring River Restoration EIS) or by e-mail to e-mail us. Written comments may also be submitted by mail or hand delivery to Superintendent, Cape Cod National Seashore, 99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet, MA 02667.