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Gosnold seeks permit to excavate tidal openings to Buzzards Bay to reintroduce tidal flushing to Westend, Central ponds

Published Dec. 10, 2013

CONCORD, Mass. – The Town of Gosnold is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the United States in conjunction with excavating to create tidal openings to Buzzards Bay to reintroduce tidal flushing into Westend Pond and Central Pond on Cuttyhunk Island in Gosnold, Mass.


The Town of Gosnold Board of Selectmen is proposing to excavate an opening between the Westend Pond on Cuttyhunk Island and Buzzards Bay and to excavate a tidal opening between Westend Pond and Central Pond. This proposed work is to re-establish the tidal connection between the Westend Pond and Buzzards Bay. The Corps has issued two previous approvals to excavate to connect the waters of Westend Pond to Buzzards Bay but the excavations previously authorized have now filled in naturally. This proposed permit is to allow the Town to attempt to re-establish a new opening and to dredge it annually or as needed to maintain the connection. The excavated material will be placed on nearby upland areas above the high tide line.


The proposed new connection between Buzzards Bay and Westend Pond is 20 feet in width and approximately 170 feet long and will be excavated down to the elevation of mean low water. The estimated volume of material to be excavated is approximately 1,200 cubic yards of gravel and cobbles. The connection between Westend Pond and Central Pond is approximately 237 feet in length, 20 feet wide and also will be excavated down to mean low water. Approximately 950 cubic yards of material will be removed and placed in the nearby uplands.


The work being proposed is to enhance the water quality of these ponds by reintroducing tidal flushing and making the ponds more suitable for salt tolerant aquatic species. The dredged material disposal is proposed for upland areas on the nearby barrier beaches separating the ponds from Buzzards Bay.


The dredging portion of this project will impact approximately 9,140 square feet of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for various species and life stages. It also will reintroduce tidal flushing into these two coastal pond systems. Habitat at this site can be described as a cobbles-and-gravel barrier beach. Due to the creation of new intertidal habitat and the introduction of salt water into these ponds, 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. No adverse impacts to any EFH species will occur as a result of the dredged material disposal.


The application for the federal permit was filed by the Town of Gosnold with the Corps in compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U. S. waters, including wetlands; and with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the United States. The public notice, with additional information, can be viewed on the Corps website at  http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.


Public comments on the work proposed by the Town of Gosnold (file # NAE-2010-938) should be forwarded no later than Jan. 10, 2014 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Brian Valiton), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Brian Valiton at 978-318-8166 or by email to: brian.e.valiton@usace.army.mil.


Tim Dugan

Release no. 2013-119