The Town of Mashpee hosted an informational session on May 31st to address the Barnstable County Dredge this season. There were about 75 residents in the room, and additional 100 on Zoom. In case you missed the meeting please watch the recording here and read the Mashpee Enterprise article posted here. The Town explained that dredging is a complex operation involving time of year permit restrictions, weather, staffing, and mating & endangered species protection acts to navigate. The dredging of the Approach Channel benefits mariners, replenishes sand onto Popponesset Spit that erodes each winter, and supports the flushing of the Bay to help water quality. The Town has heard the voices of the community and presented a short term solution.
What is the Town/County doing for a short term solution?
The Harbormaster has installed shoaling buoys in the Approach Channel to better alert mariners. The Town is working with Barnstable County to seek approvals from the US Army Corp. of Engineers and National Heritage to dredge the Approach Channel. We should know shortly if this alternative is feasible. If approved, the dredge could be here by late June/early July. Once operational, the dredging work could take approximately 10 days to complete with the sand being placed on the Popponesset Spit.
Everyone involved is working with Mass Audubon as there are several new chicks and nests at the tip end of the Spit. Reminder, these birds are Federally protected so there are limitations to what can be done. Mass Audubon is a fantastic partner with the Town, the County, and Save Popponesset Bay and are doing what they can to make this possible. We will keep you updated as we hear word from the Harbormaster and the Town/County on updates. Please continue to exercise caution as you and your neighbors enter and exit the bay, this continues to be a safety hazard and all should proceed with caution.
What is the Town doing about a long term solution?
The Town has a grant to establish a Harbor Management Plan for the entire Town including Popponesset Bay. You can read more on their site here and the March meeting presentation deck here. Please attend the public meeting on July 13, 4-6pm at New Seabury Country Club regarding this topic to voice your input and ideas.
Save Popponesset Bay has been working on a long term solution for the past ~6 years. Our solution is the Longer, Wider, Deeper Project which has been in partnership with the Town of Mashpee, Barnstable County, Woods Hole Group, and Mass Audubon with permits pending at the Army Corp. of Engineers. The projected cost of this project will run ~$2M. Once approved, SPB and the Town will apply for State and Federal grants, however the majority of this capital campaign needs to be funded by private donations. The project will improve the channel by making it Longer (by 250 ft), Wider (by 50 ft) and Deeper (by 2ft) and installing a catch basin along part of the channel to collect shifting sands. This project will put ~45,000 cubic yds of sand back on the Spit and prepares us for more sustainable annual dredging. Read more here.
Please consider making a donation to SPB to support our annual efforts and the Longer, Wider, Deeper Project, and attend the Harbor Management Plan meeting to invest in the longevity of our Town & ecosystem.