2011 ended with some encouraging news regarding river restoration efforts in the Ipswich River Watershed. In December IRWA learned that the Ipswich Mills Dam Evaluation in Ipswich and the Curtis Pond Dam Removal in Middleton were added to the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER)’s list of Priority Projects. These two dam related river restoration projects along with a salt marsh restoration project in the nearby Castle Neck River were among the select group of eleven projects across the Commonwealth that were approved into the Priority Projects Program this year. A third dam project IRWA has been involved with, the South Middleton Dam Evaluation, was already on the Priority Project list.
Priority Projects are selected based on careful consideration of the expected ecological, social and economic benefits they will provide to Massachusetts. That we now have three of these projects underway in the watershed underscores the regional importance of the Ipswich. It also highlights the opportunity we have to restore some of the river’s valuable functions that have been impaired or lost over the years. Priority status helps raise the profile of these important efforts and also allows DER’s experienced staff to work more closely with the project partners to increase the likelihood of completing them and realizing restoration success.