Removing high-risk barriers improves resiliency for nine communities and wildlife in Massachusetts

Last edited 09/05/2019
Contact Information

Contact: Rob Blumenthal (NFWF),, 202-595-2457

A $4.48 million project to remove seven high-risk stream barriers will create jobs, increase flood resiliency for nine communities in Massachusetts and improve wetlands and streams.​    

In June 2014, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) awarded $4.48 million to the Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration (MA DER) to remove seven high-risk stream barriers, design three barrier removal plans, and identify 10 additional high-risk barriers throughout Massachusetts. The following communities will receive flood resiliency benefits from this project: Andover, Taunton, East Bridgewater, Ipswich, Scituate, Freetown/Fall River, Middleton, Pittsfield and Pepperell.       

Six of the barriers are in poor condition, while all of the high-risk barriers are threatening homes and businesses, multiple bridges and railroad bridges and several commuter roads. Removing these barriers is key to reducing flooding and infrastructure damage for nine communities by providing 57 acres of floodplain storage capacity. Additionally, this project will create 75 jobs, provide training for the next generation of stream barrier removal specialists and open 123 miles of fish passage. 

This October, Pepperell will be the project’s first community to increase their resiliency when their Nissitissit River barrier, Millie Turner Dam, is fully removed. Eliminating this safety hazard will save $2.8 million in repair costs, and will improve safety and resiliency for 11,500 residents, native brook trout and other wildlife. The Nissitissit River is also home to the only known population of endangered brook floater mussel in the Merrimack Basin. MA DER is also working on two additional barrier designs and permits that will be completed by December 2015.  The following year, 2016, will be busy with the removal of six barriers and identification of 10 future barriers to be removed.  

Funding for this project was provided through the Department of Interior’s Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 


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Credit for Flickr and factsheet: Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration

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