CONCORD, Mass. – Bret Stearns, Director of the Natural Resource Department of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), on behalf of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), in Aquinnah, Mass., is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in order to dredge Herring Creek and do other work on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. The work is proposed on and adjacent to Tribal Trust Land off of State Road in Aquinnah, and throughout the entirety of the waters of Herring Creek from Menemsha Pond to Squibnocket Pond in Aquinnah.
The proposed work involves the dredging of Herring Creek to depths between -1.5 feet and -2 feet mean lower low water (MLLW) in the stream and -7 feet MLLW in the pools from the existing grades which range from 0.5 feet to 2 feet MLLW in the stream and -3.5 feet MLLW within the pools. The Tribe will hydraulically dredge approximately 1,300 cubic yards from a 20,000-square-foot area within Herring Creek from Menemsha Pond to Squibnocket Pond. The Creek is approximately 1,800 feet long with widths ranging from 5-130 feet.
The dredged material will be dewatered on site in an approximately 1,200-square-foot upland area allowing excess water to flow back into Herring Creek and then transported to uplands on tribal property. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has fishing treaty rights to Herring Creek, which include the ability to manage the Creek for fisheries purposes. The purpose of this project is to maintain fisheries resources by dredging material that has accreted within the channel in order to re-establish a channel and increase flow through the Creek.
Additional work to limit erosion of the channel and maintain the fishway include stabilizing three areas of the bank, placing approximately 580 square feet of fill below the high tide line. The first is approximately 56 linear feet of bank adjacent to and beneath the existing dock encompassing approximately 295 square feet and the other two locations are to the north and south of the box culvert. These two sections are 28 linear feet (approximately 130 square feet) and 31 linear feet (approximately 155 square feet), respectively. All bank stabilization will be constructed using rock toe protection, anchored pre-vegetated coconut fiber rolls, natural fiber erosion control blanket, and live fascines.
The project also includes a proposal by the Tribe to retain and reconstruct fishing structures within the waterway. These structures are used to impound waters for fishing purposes. Work includes replacing an existing 3.75-foot x 3.75-foot culvert structure with a 4.5-foot x 4-foot culvert structure, and retaining a fishing weir and multiple platforms. The culvert and associated features extend from the bank to the opposite bank. The east and west platforms extend approximately 23 feet from MHW and 14 feet from MHW, respectively.
The west platform consists of a trapezoidal 68-square-foot lower platform and a 335-square-foot upper platform that consists of two sections. The weir and east platform on the opposite bank are approximately 15 feet x 6 feet (90 square feet) and are accessed by a 10-foot x 6-foot gangway (60 square feet). The entire structure from east to west bank is supported by 16, 12-inch diameter timber piles. The structures also have a timber fence that stretches the length of the structures, approximately 42 feet bank to bank, minus the fish weir which is approximately 4.5 feet wide.
The dredging portion of this project will impact approximately 20,000 square feet of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). Placing a turbidity curtain will temporarily impact approximately 4.1 acres of EFH. Habitat at this site can be described as fine to coarse sand and gravel with some areas of mucky organic material. Loss of this habitat may adversely affect species that use these waters and substrate. However, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Further consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding EFH conservation recommendations is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.
The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.; and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands. The public notice, with more specifics on the proposed work by the Natural Resource Department of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.
Public comments on this work proposed by the Natural Resource Department of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), (file # NAE-2016-02036) should be forwarded no later than Nov. 9, 2017 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Josh Helms), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Josh Helms at 978-318-8211 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: email@example.com.