“Our strategy for accelerating the Commonwealth’s economic recovery includes targeting key support toward important sectors in the maritime industry that play vital roles in our coastal communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration remains committed to helping coastal communities leverage their unique assets to continue supporting the local economic activity generated by our maritime industries.”
“By providing a dedicated source of funds for saltwater dredging, the Massachusetts Dredging Program can ensure more projects that are ready to move into construction, can do so,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Recognizing the impact our maritime industries have on the local economy, I want to thank our partner communities for providing matching funds to help advance these critical projects.”
The Massachusetts Dredging Program is administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) and financed through capital funds authorized under the 2018 Economic Development Bond Bill. Applications for the 2021 grant round were evaluated in collaboration with staff at the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and the Seaport Economic Council.
“As we continue our statewide focus on an equitable economic recovery, the Massachusetts Dredging Program reflects both the demand for and the urgency of need,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “By providing funds for construction-ready projects and working in partnership with coastal cities and towns on financing, we can advance more construction-ready projects along a faster timeline.”
Today’s grants will support the removal of nearly 420,000 cubic yards of harbor material, deepening berths or navigational channels in nine communities. Approximately two thirds of this material will be beneficially reused for the nourishment of public beaches in six communities. These projects will expand or preserve the use of over 3,500 moorings and dockage slips, and navigation for more than 200 commercial vessels.
“These dredging resources offer an incredible benefit to those who make their lives in our maritime economy, and nowhere is that more true than in Wellfleet,” said State Senator Julian Cyr. “I am encouraged to see such a longstanding commitment to dredging across all levels of government to ensuring that harbors like those of Wellfleet, Barnstable, Chatham, Dennis, and Harwich remains navigable, clean, and robust for future generations of Cape Codders.”
“I want to congratulate the Town of Wellfleet and the hard working dredging committee and I want to thank Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and especially Secretary Kennealy. I would be remiss if I also didn’t thank former Secretary Jay Ash for the attention and care that he paid to the needs of Wellfleet,” said State Representative Sarah Peake. “I believe that our first meeting with then Secretary Ash, some four or five years ago, is what got the ball rolling to create what is now the Statewide Dredging Program. Since then, I have shown ‘black mayonnaise’ to more state officials than I ever thought possible! This program has proven beneficial to the communities that I represent and I am delighted to see Chatham and Harwich benefit as part of today’s announcement, too.”
“The Town of Wellfleet would like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Dredging Program for supporting this important project for Wellfleet Harbor,” said Wellfleet Assistant Town Administrator Rebecca Slick. “Safe navigation is vital not only to the strength and wellbeing of our local shellfishing industry, but to public enjoyment of the harbor for boating and tourism. Wellfleet is grateful for this opportunity from the Commonwealth, and we look forward to starting this next phase of dredging in the fall.”
Since 2019, the Massachusetts Dredging Program has awarded over $11 million for 13 public dredging projects, tapping into more than $16 million in matching funds. In total, these projects have expanded or preserved the use of over 5,800 moorings and dockage slips, and navigation for over 500 commercial vessels, and the livelihoods of more than 50 private boatyards, marinas, yacht clubs, and other harbor-dependent enterprises.
In addition to these awards, an additional 10 grants, totaling almost $3.6 million, were awarded through the Commonwealth’s 2018 dredging pilot program, the precursor to the Massachusetts Dredging Program, which is the Commonwealth’s first standalone grant program with dedicated funding to support saltwater dredging. All Massachusetts coastal municipalities are eligible to apply. A minimum 50% non-state match is required for any application to be considered.
Learn more at mass.gov/massachusetts-dredging-program.
Massachusetts Dredging Program Grant Recipients
(Communities that are first-time recipients of grants through the Massachusetts Dredging Program are noted with *)
Barnstable Harbor Entrance Channel Dredging Project
The Town of Barnstable will dredge an estimated 3,500 cubic yards of material from the Barnstable Harbor entrance channel and the Blish Point Boat Ramp. Dredging will preserve all-tide navigation through the inner harbor to support three private marinas and a variety of commercial users, including charter fishing boats, shellfishing boats, and whale watching vessels. Barnstable Harbor provides access to Cape Cod Bay and is home to two public boat ramps, over 400 moorings and dockage slips, and more than 90 acres of shellfish farms.
Pocasset River Dredging Project
The Town of Bourne will dredge an estimated 9,000 cubic yards of material from the Pocasset River channel. The river is a recreational destination in the community, supporting both a public and private marina, over 180 moorings and dockage slips, and a 160-acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Dredging will restore all-tide navigation in the channel while also improving water quality for the health of the ACEC. This project builds on the Town’s recent dredging of Little Bay, which links the Pocasset River to Buzzards Bay.
Stage Harbor Entrance Dredging Project
The Town of Chatham will dredge an estimated 25,000 cubic yards of sand from the Stage Harbor entrance channel. Dredging will preserve all-tide navigation in the harbor, which operates as the southern hub of the community’s maritime economy and provides a secondary offloading location for the largest fishing fleet on Cape Cod and the third largest fleet in Massachusetts. Stage Harbor is home to three private marinas, over 50 commercial fishing vessels, and nearly 1,300 moorings and dockage slips.
Sesuit Harbor Maintenance Dredging Project
The Town of Dennis will dredge an estimated 15,000 cubic yards of sand from the Sesuit Harbor entrance channel. Dredging will preserve all-tide navigation for a wide range of recreational and commercial users, including more than 40 commercial and for-hire fishing boats. Sesuit Harbor is home to a public and private marina as well as two public boat ramps with parking for over 200 vehicles. Collectively, the marinas serve more than 350 vessels.
Allen Harbor Dredging Project
The Town of Harwich will remove an estimated 8,000 cubic yards of sand from the Allen Harbor entrance channel. Dredging will preserve all-tide navigation for commercial and recreational users as well as two U.S. Coast Guard rescue assets. Allen Harbor hosts six commercial fishing vessels and is home to a private marina, over 160 moorings and dockage slips, and a regionally significant boat ramp.
Holmes Wharf Dredging Project
The Town of Mattapoisett will remove an estimated 100 cubic yards of material from the Holmes Wharf basin in Mattapoisett Harbor. Dredging will restore all-tide use of the area and allow replacement of an existing cable dock system, which provides slips for up to 30 skiff boats. Mattapoisett Harbor is home to more than 20 charter fishing boats and is a recreational destination in the community, offerings access to five wharves, a public boat ramp, and over 650 moorings and dockage slips.
Plum Island’s North Point Nourishment Project
The City of Newburyport will partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for the reuse of approximately 220,000 cubic yards of sand from the Newburyport Harbor federal dredging project. Current conditions in the harbor pose a navigational hazard for many vessels during low tides and rough seas. Sand removed by the project will be beneficially reused for beach restoration at Plum Island’s North Point, which has experienced severe coastal erosion over the past decade. This new sand will replenish the North Point’s public beach while also reducing the risk of flooding and storm damage for local property and infrastructure.
Plymouth Harbor Dredging Project II
The Town of Plymouth will remove an estimated 22,000 cubic yards of material from the Town Wharf basin in Plymouth Harbor. Current conditions make the basin impassible for many vessels during low tides, restricting navigation and causing boats to rest in mud for long periods. Dredging will restore all-tide access for recreational and commercial users, including numerous charter fishing boats as well as whale watching vessels. Plymouth Harbor is home to over 800 moorings and dockage slips, two private marinas, and a public boat ramp with parking for over 100 vehicles. This project builds on prior federal and local dredging efforts, including dredging of the federal channel, the New T-Wharf, and the berth area of the Mayflower II.
Wellfleet Harbor Maintenance Dredging Project
The Town of Wellfleet will remove an estimated 116,500 cubic yards of material from areas surrounding the Town Pier in Wellfleet Harbor. This project builds on a $2.6 million federal dredging effort completed in 2020 and will address muddy shoaling conditions that make navigation hazardous or impassible for many vessels at low tides. Dredging will restore all-tide navigation for commercial and recreational users while also improving water quality for shellfish propagation. Wellfleet Harbor is home to over 570 moorings and dockage slips and is the number one shellfishing port in Commonwealth, supporting more than 90 private growers, 260 acreages of shellfish farms, and over $7 million in commercial landings each year.