Watershed Partners NAWCA Grants for Bouchard No. 120 Oil Spill fines

NAWCA grants and the Bouchard No. 120 fines

Since 2004, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has partnered with the citizens group The Buzzards Bay Coalition, and other environmental groups, to develop proposals to be funded by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The Bouchard Transport Company was fined $9 million for Clean Water Act violations relating to their spill of 98,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel in April 2003. Of this total, $7 million was directed to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s NAWCA program. The NAWCA program prioritized the use of this money for protection and restoration projects in Buzzards Bay.

In 2006, the third and final round of funds were awarded (see NAWCA award summary), including land acquisition projects developed by the Coalition and their land trust partners, and restoration projects developed by the Buzzards Bay NEP in partnership with Ducks Unlimited.


On Friday, November 19, 2004 a federal judge announced that a $10 million guilty plea criminal settlement agreement had been finalized between the Bouchard Transportation Company and the federal government (read the New Bedford Standard Times story from 11/19/04 , “Bouchard pleads guilty, agrees to $10M fine” to learn more). Of the $10 million, $7 million would go to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) fund, $2 million would go to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (for the cleanup of spills where the responsible party is unknown), and $1 million will be suspended while the company completes a three-year probation requiring certain actions. Go to our Settlement Information page for more details on that topic.

In anticipation of the NAWCA funds becoming available, a group of 27 bay organizations called the “Buzzards Bay Watershed Partners” was organized, originally by Massachusetts Environmental Trust. After the first two meetings it was agreed that the Citizen group, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, would take the lead and prepare a grant application for the fall 2004 deadline for the NAWCA funds. The Buzzards Bay NEP participated in the effort, and prepared the maps and evaluated land use and habitat that were used in the grant application.

Summary of 2006 NAWCA grant projects

In September 2006, the USFWS announced it would fund the following projects, and provided these descriptions. Note that some of the projects (like “Inner Bay and Edmunds”) contain multiple restoration sites.

Project: Dike Creek. (Dartmouth, MA)
Partners: The Buzzards Bay Coalition, The Trustees of Reservations, Westport Land Conservation Trust, Town of Westport Conservation Commission, Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Bristol County Mosquito Control, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, and Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program.
Grant: $1,000,000. Matching Funds: $1,887,000.
Description: Dike Creek is part of the larger Buzzards Bay Watershed, which contains habitat critical to waterfowl and wetland-associated migratory birds. The wetland habitats that partners in this project will permanently protect along Dike Creek will continue to help filter pollutants, aiding the bay in its oil-spill recovery. Protecting these wetlands also safeguards them against conversion to residential development–another primary threat to the area’s habitats and wildlife. Partners will acquire easements on three tracts totaling 199 acres; acquire fee title on a 39-acre tract; and receive a fee-title donation on a 14-acre tract. Additionally, partners will restore 15 acres of salt marsh at Meadow Shores, adjacent to Buzzards Bay. In total, 267 acres of habitat will be protected or restored.

Project: Inner Bay Restoration & Edmunds. (sites in Bourne, Falmouth, Mattapoisett, and Wareham, MA).
Partners: The Buzzards Bay Coalition, Wareham Land Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Town of Wareham, Town of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration Program, Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, and USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Grant: $800,000. Matching Funds: $1,606,960. Nonmatching Funds: $233,751.
Description: This project’s eight sites are within the larger Buzzards Bay Watershed, which contains habitat critical to 221 species of wetland-associated migratory birds. Project partners will acquire four private parcels totaling 102 acres, permanently protecting a mix of freshwater wetlands, uplands, and 1 mile of riparian habitat in the bay’s watershed. Wareham Land Trust will hold title to acquired lands. Partners also will restore a total of 90 acres of degraded salt marsh habitat at Sippewisset Marsh, Crooked River Marsh, Eel Pond, and Back River Marsh. All project lands will allow public access for recreational and educational uses. By protecting or restoring a total of 192 acres of wetland habitats, partners are helping to safeguard the bay from conversion to residential development and aiding in its post-spill recovery.

Project: Slocum’s River.(Dartmouth, MA)
Partners: The Buzzards Bay Coalition, Koch family (landowners), Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.
Grant: $300,000. Matching Funds: $1,200,000.
Description: Slocum’s River is within the larger Buzzards Bay Watershed, which contains habitat critical to 221 species of wetland-associated migratory birds. More than 900 protected acres along Slocum’s River provide a diversity of intact, coastal habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife. Project partners will acquire a conservation easement on the Koch Family’s 86-acre property — the only remaining unprotected parcel on the river’s west bank. Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (Trust) will hold the easement. Last year, the neighboring Knight Family donated a conservation easement on their 7-acre parcel to the Trust. By protecting this total of 93 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in the Buzzard Bay Watershed, partners are helping to further safeguard the area from conversion to residential development and aiding in the bay’s post-spill recovery.

The map below shows projects funded by the NAWCA program during the past three grant rounds, and projects used to meet the required match for these NAWCA grants.

Summary of all NAWCA grants and matching projects and activities
To see more detail, follow this link to open a print quality resolution map of NAWCA projects (770 kb jpg).


Summary of first two rounds Buzzards Bay Watershed Partner’s NAWCA awards

The Buzzards Bay partners submitted an application to the NAWCA Program in the summer of 2004. The introduction of the 2004 (first year) proposal read:

“The Buzzards Bay Watershed Partners’ objective is to protect and enhance some 1,012 acres of coastal watershed including both salt and freshwater wetlands as habitat for waterfowl and wetland associated migratory birds. The Bouchard 120 oil spill in April, 2003, put approximately 98,000 gallons of No. 6 oil in the Bay, dramatically reducing the habitat quality of Buzzards Bay for migratory birds, resident birds, marine animals, coastal vegetation and coastal invertebrates. To effect some positives from such a negative, the partners, led by The Buzzards Bay Coalition, have applied for NAWCA funds to further land protection efforts across the watershed. These efforts, accomplished through purchase of lands or conservation restrictions, will permanently protect waterfowl habitat vital wetlands and drinking water sources, ensure needed open space, buffer riverine estuaries and further the progress made to upgrade the Bay’s overall water quality.”

The Buzzards Bay Partners proposal presented 9 projects totaling $6.16 million, but only a portion of the sites would be selected for funding. These projects were principally property acquisitions (fee) or conservation restrictions (CR) to protect bird habitat, with little restoration work included in the application. The original nine projects were as follows:


Proj. # Description of all projects proposed in the original 2004 application Acres NAWCA Request
1 CR: Chapin White, Westport (Match Partners: CBB, WLCT, TTOR, MET) 90.0 $1,000,000
2 Fee: Allens Pond, Dartmouth (Match Partners: CBB, MAS, DNRT, MET) 104.0 $853,000
3 CR: Dike Creek, Dartmouth (Match Partners: CBB, DNRT, MET) 153.0 $385,000
4 CR: Nasketucket Bay I, Fairhaven (Match Partners: CBB, WLCT, TTOR, SLT, FALPT, MET) 127.0 $1,000,000
5 CR: Nasketucket Bay II, Mattapoisett (Match Partners: CBB, FALPT, MET, MA CZM, CWRP) 64.0 $285,000
6 CR: Mattapoisett River North, Rochester (Match Partners: CBB, FALPT, RLT, MRVA, MET, Towns of Fairhaven, Marion, Rochester) 165.0 $540,000
7 Fee: Eastover Wetlands, Rochester (Match Partners: CBB, MET, SLT, MLCT, WLCT, Town of Rochester) 99.0 $790,000
8 CR: Agawam River, Wareham (Match Partners: CBB, TNC, MET, WLT) 200.0 $1,000,000
9 Fee: Herring Brook, Falmouth (Match Partners: CBB, WLCT, DNRT, 300 Committee, MET) 10.2 $370,500
TOTALs 1,012.2 $6,160,500

Click on the map below to see a larger version of project locations (red circles). Orange circles indicate properties where non federal expenditures are being used as match for the federal request.

North American Wetlands Conservation Act fund proposed projects for Buzzards Bay
Map of Proposed North American Wetlands Conservation Act fund projects for Buzzards Bay
(80 kb GIF version, opens in new window).

Map of Proposed North American Wetlands Conservation Act fund projects for Buzzards Bay (840 kb detailed zoomable PDF version).

One Project Withdrawn

In October 2004, Massachusetts Audubon received funding for the Allens Pond site (Project #2 above) through another separate US Fish and Wildlife program (National Coastal Wildlife Conservation Grant Project Program), so they subsequently withdrew their request under the NAWCA grant. A total of $600,000 was awarded in this grant. The Buzzards Bay NEP was a partner on this project.

From the USF&WS Press Release on the FY 2005 awards, this project was described as follows: “Great Allens Pond Ecosystem Protection and Restoration Project. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation will protect about 156 acres along Buzzards Bay and restore 7 acres of salt marsh. The project area will become part a contiguous block of 1,000 acres of protected habitats, including salt marsh, coastal oak woodlands, and grasslands. The partners on this project included a private landowner, Buzzards Bay Project NEP/Massachusetts Conservation Trust, Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, Massachusetts Audubon Society, and Natural Resources Conservation Services.

Round 1 NAWCA Awards, March 2005

Of the original list of nine projects, on December 7, 2004, the North American Wetlands Conservation Council selected three wetlands conservation projects that were recommended to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which in turn approved the projects in March 2005. The councils’ recommendation stated: “Subject to the availability of the designated funds, the Council also will recommend the following three projects located in the Buzzards Bay Watershed Area: Chapin White, Nasketucket Bay Field and Marsh, and Nasketucket Bay Vivieros. The three grants total $2,285,000. Partners’ contributions amount to $6,359,553.” Summary information for these projects, and excerpts from the proposal, is as follows:

Nasketucket Bay Field & Marsh Project information from the proposal

The Nasketucket F & M project is in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts in the Buzzards Bay Watershed. This is adjacent to oiled sites along Buzzards Bay including Ram, West and Long Islands in Fairhaven and Mattapoisett. The project proposes to acquire a conservation restriction (CR) on the 64-acre Field parcel on Mattapoisett Neck and to restore a 45-acre salt marsh abutting it to the north. The Neck is a mix of cottage development, year round housing, extensive marsh lands and some farm fields used for hay. The Nasketucket Field tract (named for the owner, Field) is a typical coastal farm with hay fields and woodlot on the higher land. There are 21 acres of salt marsh on the property, which comprises much of the eastern shore of Brant Island a sub-embayment to Nasketucket Bay. The uplands are wooded with white pine and oak. Red Maple is the dominant species in the wooded swamp areas.

The Mattapoisett Neck Salt Marsh Restoration site is the ‘M’ in Nasketucket F & M. The site is a 45-acre Salt marsh abutting the Nasketucket Field tract to the north. The restoration project seeks to restore tidal flows to the salt marsh by repairing a culvert and moving a water line to allow full tidal flows to enter a larger culvert in Mattapoisett Neck Road and, ultimately, into the extensive upstream salt marsh.

HABITAT TYPES AND WILDLIFE BENEFITTING: Nasketucket Bay is in the Buzzards Bay Focus Area of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. The BBW: Nasketucket F & M site is less than 2 miles away from Ram Island Roseate Terns use the surrounding waters of Buzzards Bay as foraging grounds during the spring/fall migration These terns use the area as summer foraging grounds, since roughly 50% of the entire North American population nests on Bird island, Marion and Ram Island, Mattapoisett. Estuaries and protected embayments are extremely important to wintering and migrating waterfowl, including American Black Duck, Greater Scaup, Gadwall, Brant and Canvasback.

Nasketucket Bay is a breeding area for Black Ducks and for wintering populations of other waterfowl, including Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Greater Scaup, and Canvashack Duck. Nasketucket Bay is excellent migration and breeding habitat for birds such as Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, and Eastern Phoebe. as well as tropical migrants such as Black-throated Green Warbler, Veery, Scarlet Tanager, and potentially American Kestrel. Also, there are Northern Harrier, a bird listed as “threatened” under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act.

Salt marsh: although common in coastal Massachusetts, is also a global conservation priority. It is the most productive ecosystem in North America and is essential to the function of our offshore fisheries and shellfish, salt marshes have suffered from filling, impoundment, invasive species, and many other alterations. Additionally, in the context of the nearby farms, swamplands, and yet undeveloped woodlands, this part of Buzzards Bay represents an almost unparalleled amount of contiguous wildlife habitat. Eastern Diamondback Terrapin is a confirmed nester in the Nasketucket Bay area. It is a candidate for the Federal Endangered Species List, and depends on open nesting habitat and undeveloped uplands adjacent to salt marshes.

PUBLIC BENEFITS: Preserving the Field land under a CR protects Brant Island Cove, Nasketucket Bay and greater Buzzards Bay from increased sediment and nutrient pollution associated with housing development, a] preserves upland and wetland habitats. The public will receive permanent protection of scenic Bay shoreline, habitat protection for wildlife, and guided public access for education and bird watching. Similarly, the restoration of the larger Mattapoisett Neck salt marsh as proposed here will greatly enhance the habitat quality of this marsh for wetland dependent birds and wildlife.


Nasketucket Bay Field & Marsh

NAWCA Funds requested: $285,000
MATCHING PARTNERS: The Buzzards Bay Coalition, Town of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts Corporate Wetlands Restoration Program, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, Fairhaven-Acushnet Land Preservation Trust, Massachusetts Environmental Trust, William Field

Easements Acquired – $590,000/ 64 acres Easements Donated – $757,000/ 3.6 acres Restored – $104,853/ 45 acres Other – $20,000 Direct Costs – $10,000

The Nasketucket Field CR (64 acres) will be held and managed by the Mattapoisett Land Trust (MLT) and The Buzzards Bay Coalition (CBB). The property is owned by William Field. The Town of Fairhaven and Fairhaven-Acushnet Land Preservation Trust (FALPT) hold the CR and manage the 3.5 acre Popes Beach. The 45 acres of Mattapoisett Neck salt marsh are owned by multiple public and private landowners. The restoration will be managed by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (MCZM) and the Town of Mattapoisett.

Chapin White

The 90-acre Chapin White parcel includes approximately 3,250 feet of frontage on the east branch of the Westport River in Westport, Massachusetts. The upland portion of the parcel is composed of a mosaic of hay fields (2 acres) separated by shrub scrub areas, hard wood and white pine forest (30 acres of combined forest) and is bisected by a small perennial stream and associated freshwater wetlands. A town-wide assessment of rare species and exemplary natural communities performed by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program highlighted the brackish tidal marsh community along the shoreline of Chapin White and adjacent properties as one of the top conservation priorities for the town. The rich estuarine ecosystem is used by hundreds of birds and marine organisms, including large numbers of American Black Duck and the highest concentration of nesting Osprey in New England.

Vivieros Property

The proposed Nasketucket II CR and fee acquisition is a 127-acre parcel on Sconticut Neck. The peninsula is remote, has little development, extensive marshes, small woodlands and open farm fields used as a dairy cattle pasture. The parcel is characterized by stonewall-bound hay fields, and the coastal environment is comprised of salt marsh, coastal dune and barrier beach habitats.

Round 2 NAWCA Awards, September 2005

After the March 2005 award, the Coalition and Buzzards Bay Partners sought to improve the viability of the remaining projects on the original list. Of these, NAWCA funded the two additional projects in September 2005. These projects have the following summaries:

Project: Nasketucket Bay II.
Partners: The Buzzards Bay Coalition, Fairhaven-Acushnet Land Preservation Trust, Mattapoisett Land Trust, Massachusetts Environmental Trust, and Richard and Vivian Douglass.
Grant: $1,000,000. Matching Funds: $2,210,000.
Description: Towns located in the Buzzards Bay Watershed are projected to grow in population by 30 to 60 percent over the next 20 years. Open space currently is being consumed at a rate 2.5 times that of population growth. To help conserve the watershed’s habitats, partners will use their $1,000,000 grant and $2,210,000 in matching funds to acquire in fee title the 106-acre Walega Tract on Brant Island Cove, a subembayment of Nasketucket Bay. The tract contains 57 acres of salt marsh, 13 acres of wooded wetlands and freshwater marsh, and 36 acres of upland forest. In addition, a conservation easement covering 17 acres, characterized by a small freshwater pond, some wooded swamp, and high-quality salt marsh, will be purchased on the Douglass Farm, situated across the bay. Completing the project, a conservation easement will be donated on the 53-acre Shipyard Farm, containing 23 acres of coastal wetlands and 30 acres of fields and upland forest.

Project: Westport River.
Partners:The Buzzards Bay Coalition, The Trustees of Reservations, The Westport Land Conservation Trust, and Massachusetts Environmental Trust.
Grant: $1,000,000; Matching Funds: $2,335,000.
Description: This project involves the acquisition and donation of perpetual conservation easements, totaling 207 acres along the East Branch of the Westport River in the Buzzards Bay Watershed, an area highly threatened by residential development. The acreage to be acquired includes wooded wetlands (for example, Atlantic white cedar swamp), open fields, shrub lands, and forested uplands. The $1,000,000 grant will be used to acquire the easements. The partners’ matching contributions, including the value of a donated conservation easement, amount to $2,335,000.

Three Round Summary of NAWCA Grants


Summary of Buzzards Bay Watershed Grants funded by NAWCA for the Bouchard 120 oil spill
NAWCA Project Date award
Dike Creek 26-Sep-06 $1,000,000
Inner Bay Restoration & Edmunds 26-Sep-06 $800,000
Slocums River 26-Sep-06 $300,000
Nasketucket Bay II 21-Sep-05 $1,000,000
Westport River 21-Sep-05 $1,000,000
Chapin White 16-Mar-05 $1,000,000
Nasketucket Bay Field & Marsh 16-Mar-05 $285,000
Nasketucket Bay Vivieros 16-Mar-05 $1,000,000
Total $6,385,000



North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants Program

NAWCA Grant Award Summaries Page