Traphole Brook Receives Grant

Projects Will Improve River Health and Increase Community Resilience to Climate Change

August 22, 2019

Baker‐Polito Administration Helps Cities and Towns Upgrade Road-Stream Crossings

WINDSOR – The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $932,000 to support 16 local culvert replacement projects that improve municipal infrastructure, river health and resilience to climate change. Secretary Kathleen Theoharides announced the grants today at an event at Windsor State Forest, then visited the sites of two culvert projects in Windsor and Cummington that received grants.

“Helping municipalities address their vulnerabilities is an important part of our administration’s strategy to prepare for the impacts of climate change,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Replacing culverts with larger, safer structures is a common-sense, nature-based approach to restore river health and make cities and towns more resilient to storms.”

“Municipalities across Massachusetts are eager to replace undersized and failing culverts with larger, climate-ready structures, but they lack the technical knowledge and financial resources,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration is proud to provide cities and towns both the funding and technical assistance to complete these important projects.”

Fourteen of the 16 grants were provided through DER’s Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance Grant Program, which helps municipalities replace undersized and deteriorating culverts with crossings that meet improved design standards for fish and wildlife passage, river health, and storm resiliency. Grants to the Town of Boxford and Trout Unlimited/Town of Chester were procured separately by DER.

“Deteriorated and undersized culverts can result in road failures during storms, preventing residents from getting to school, work, and medical services. These culverts also prevent fish and wildlife from getting to high-quality habitats, which are critically important as the climate warms,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides.  “By helping cities and towns replace culverts, we can help protect our infrastructure, residents and natural resources from the impacts of climate change.”

Nearly half of Massachusetts’ estimated over 25,000 small bridges and culverts act as barriers to fish and wildlife because they are undersized or poorly positioned. Undersized culverts can also present a serious risk to public safety. As high intensity rainfall becomes more frequent and severe due to climate change, culvert bottlenecks can cause flood waters to overtop roads, resulting in washouts and road closures. Installing culverts that meet the Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards allows rivers to flow unrestricted and with lower risk of flood damage. Recent studies have found that culverts designed to meet these Standards are often less expensive than in‐kind culvert replacements over the lifespan of the structure.

“Every town in Massachusetts is dealing with undersized or failing culverts, which threaten the integrity of our roads and damage sensitive river habitats,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “River restoration through culvert replacement improves water quality, expands habitat for cold water fish and other aquatic life, and enhances fishing opportunities for anglers.”

The following grants are being awarded by DER (see additional towns at end of page):

Sharon, $95,000 The Town of Sharon will conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering, and permitting for a culvert replacement. Traphole Brook is a designated coldwater fishery resource and one of the best remaining natural brook trout streams in the Boston Metro area. Upgrading this culvert will benefit the community by reducing flood risk, improving climate resilience, and reconnecting fish and wildlife passage into protected conservation land in an important natural resource area. The source of the grant funds for this project is the Blackburn and Union Privileges Superfund Site Natural Resource Damage (NRD) settlement.

Walpole, $32,000 – The Town of Walpole will conduct field data collection and analysis for a culvert replacement project on Traphole Brook, a designated coldwater fishery resource. Washout or failure of the culverts would result in the extended closure of a critical transportation corridor. Upgrading this culvert reduces ongoing maintenance burden and ensures safe travel along a critical transportation corridor and improves fish and wildlife passage and water quality. The source of the grant funds for this project is the Blackburn and Union Privileges Superfund Site Natural Resource Damage (NRD) settlement.

The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration is to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment. DER’s Stream Continuity Program helps municipalities replace undersized culverts with better designed structures that meet ecological and public safety criteria, ultimately resulting in improvements to stream connectivity and a reduction in roadway and flood hazards.

Governor Baker filed the Resilient MA legislation to support municipalities and help protect Massachusetts residents, communities, economy, natural resources and infrastructure from the adverse effects of climate change, through an increase in the excise on real estate transfers to fund a substantial and sustained investment in climate change adaptation through programs like MVP. The revenue would be directed towards investments in resilient infrastructure to help make communities safer, keep vital services online, reduce the long-term costs of climate-related risks and protect the value of property across the Commonwealth. The proposal is estimated to generate $1.3 billion over 10 years which would be deposited into the Commonwealth’s Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund to support municipalities and regional municipal partnerships through loans, grants and technical assistance to implement priority adaptation projects.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth’s natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth’s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

Read about the Traphole Brook Project and other ways that NepRWA is working to improve the health of the Brook.

NepRWA staff measured culverts this summer.

Additional towns outside of the Neponset River Watershed that received grants:


Attleboro, $28,500 – The City of Attleboro will conduct field data collection for a culvert replacement on the Chartley Brook. Upgrading the culvert will improve public safety by reducing the risk of failure in storm events and improve passage for native fish and wildlife.

Boxford, 25,000 – The Town of Boxford will replace an undersized culvert on a tributary to the Parkers River on Valley Road with a structure meeting improved stream crossing and engineering design standards.  DER and the Town will lead a training session at this site for road managers on construction techniques and practices to upgrading culverts to meet the stream crossing standards.

Braintree, $26,000 – The Town of Braintree will conduct field data collection for a culvert replacement located on Smelt Brook, a tributary of the Monatiquot River. Upgrading the culvert will reduce flooding risks and improve the health of Smelt Brook and spawning habitat for rainbow smelt. This project complements a downstream daylighting project that will restore an anadromous fish run into Smelt Brook.

Chester (Trout Unlimited), $30,000 – Trout Unlimited, the Town of Chester and other project partners will use the grant funds to construct a structure that meets improved stream crossing and engineering design standards. Replacing this undersized and failing culvert on Kinne Brook Road with larger, safer structures will allow full upstream and downstream movement of aquatic species, including native eastern brook trout, and reduce the risk of road damage and failure in flood conditions.

Clarksburg, $41,000 – The Town of Clarksburg will conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering, and permitting for a culvert replacement on Bear Swamp Brook. Upgrading the culvert allows coldwater species to access to critical coldwater streams, particularly important as the climate warms and stream temperature increases. The road also serves a primary emergency access route.

Cummington, $80,000 – The Town of Cummington will complete design and engineering tasks for the culvert replacement on the North Branch of the Swift River. Upgrading the culvert will enhance public safety, resiliency, and ecological conditions and maintain economic connectivity. The North Branch Swift River is a tributary to the Wild & Scenic Westfield River, a coldwater stream that provides critical habitat for state-listed fish only found in Massachusetts in the upper tributaries of the Westfield River.

Essex, $41,000 – The Town of Essex will conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering, and permitting for the replacement for replacement of a culvert on a tributary to the Essex River. This is a particularly important access route during coastal flooding events that close State Highway, Route 133. Upgrading this culvert will improve public safety and fish and wildlife passage.

Holyoke, $67,500 – The City of Holyoke will conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering, and permitting for the replacement of a culvert on Broad Brook. Broad Brook is a designated cold-water fishery beneath Keyes Road. Upgrading the culvert will reduce risk of failure and allow for fish and wildlife passage to upstream overwintering and breeding habitats.

Leominster, $35,000 – The City of Leominster will conduct field data collection and analysis for the replacement of a culvert on Toad Mill Brook. Upgrading the culvert will improve infrastructure resilience for a nearby commercial and retail area and improve access for fish and wildlife to a rare coldwater ecosystem located close to the downtown.

Leverett, $50,000 – The Town of Leverett will conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering, and permitting for the replacement of a culvert on a tributary to Roading Brook, a coldwater fishery.  Upgrading the culvert eliminates the risk of collapse, protecting infrastructure and access between Amherst and Routes 202 and improving fish and wildlife passage.

Pepperell, $86,000 – The Town of Pepperell will conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering for the replacement of a culvert on Sucker Brook. This culvert replacement complements a downstream restoration project restoring stream connectivity. Upgrading this culvert protects infrastructure and improves passage for native brook trout, rare and endangered mussel species and other aquatic species.

Sheffield, $54,000 – The Town of Sheffield will conduct final engineering and design and permitting for a culvert replacement on Dry Brook. The current structure results in frequent roadway flooding and repair costs. Upgrading this culvert will improve Sheffield’s infrastructure and storm resilience, reduce maintenance costs, and improve passage for fish and wildlife, including the federally listed bog turtle.

Uxbridge, $76,000 – The Town of Uxbridge will conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering for a culvert replacement on Farrel Brook. Upgrading this culvert provides access to coldwater habitat, improves public safety, storm and climate resiliency and reduces ongoing maintenance costs.

Windsor, $165,000 – The Town of Windsor will replace an undersized and deteriorated culvert on a tributary to the East Branch of the Westfield River with a larger, safer structure that meets road-stream crossing standards. The upper Westfield River and tributaries provide some of the best coldwater and fluvial fish communities in the Commonwealth.   The new culvert will enable fish and wildlife to access these high-quality habitats.  Upgrading this culvert enhances public safety, storm resiliency and ecological conditions.  The grant will fund construction work.

Thank you to Massachusetts Environmental Trust for providing NepRWA with the necessary funds to support and help implement these critical culvert replacement projects.

To learn more about Mass Environmental Trust and their environmental license plate, click here.


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