Windswept Cranberry Bog Restoration Project Gets $1 Million Federal Grant

Nantucket Current •

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A portion of the former Windswept Cranberry Bog pictured on Feb. 7, 2024. Photo by Peter Sutters

The Nantucket Conservation Foundation's ambitious, multi-year project to convert the former Windswept Cranberry Bog off Polpis Road into a wetland area got a major boost this week: a $1 million grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), which is in partnership with the Nantucket Conservation Foundation (NCF), received the seven-figure grant this week for the project that aims to restore and enhance the 231-acre property containing 39 acres of former cranberry bog and 111 acres of natural wetlands.

The NCF's goals for the Windswept Bog Restoration Project include: restoring wetland flow and connectivity; creating natural gradients between restored wetlands and surrounding uplands; maintaining or establishing valuable plant and wildlife habitats; perpetuating and enhancing public access, use, and enjoyment of the Windswept Bog property; educating the public about the importance of restoration work; maintaining Stump Pond (a unique but human-made wetland created to serve as a reservoir for the cranberry operation back in the early 1900’s); and maximizing the restored wetland’s ability to filter excess nutrients to improve water quality in Polpis and Nantucket Harbors.

The NCF's Windswept Bog property was retired from active cranberry farming in 2017. Work associated with the restoration project at the site began in January. The project is the culmination of over four years of research, monitoring, engineering plan development, permitting, and grant writing undertaken by NCF, DER, and Fuss & O’Neill, Inc. engineers.

“The Windswept Bog Wetland Restoration Project benefits both people and nature. The project offers public access for the community and the healthy, self-sustaining wetlands will be home to native plants and wildlife,” said DER Director Beth Lambert. “We applaud the Nantucket Conservation Foundation for their leadership of this regionally significant restoration project and are thankful to the USFWS for this grant award, which helps us get shovels on the ground for construction. We appreciate their investment in restoration and climate resilience.”

NCF has contracted with SumCo Eco-Contracting, a firm that specializes in ecological and environmental improvement projects and has considerable experience restoring wetlands at other retired cranberry bogs elsewhere in Massachusetts. The restoration work at Windswept is scheduled to take place over two to three years, with construction activities happening only during the winter dormant season (from November to mid-March) to avoid impacting rare plants, nesting birds, and breeding wildlife on the property.

“We are so grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of this generous funding opportunity in support of our Windswept Bog Wetland Restoration Project,” said Karen Beattie, Vice President of Science and Stewardship at the Nantucket Conservation Foundation (NCF). “This critically important restoration has been a true partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) since planning began over four years ago. This grant will enable significant forward progress on this project, which will both fulfill NCF’s habitat restoration goals and serve as a model for similar DER projects across southeastern New England.

The award supports the construction phase of the project. The Division of Ecological Restoration has previously awarded nearly $1 million to support pre-construction activities as well as the start of construction services.

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