Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced state funding for five dredging projects on the Cape last month, she made her announcements from Stage Harbor. Boaters and fishermen will benefit from the $500,000 grant the town of Chatham received thanks to the Massachusetts Dredging Program and the Seaport Economic Council. The grant will fund the dredging of the entrance to Stage Harbor where an estimated 30,000 cubic yards of silt and debris will need to be removed.
The towns of Dennis, Truro, Harwich, Wellfleet and Newburyport (on Cape Ann) also received grants totaling $3.2 million with non-state support totaling $3.6 million. These projects will ensure that the harbors are passable at all stages of the tide allowing for safer passage for all. Low tide passage is impossible currently in a few of these locations. “These grants enhance the blue economy,” Polito said.
State Rep. Sarah Peake said talks between legislators and the administration about the need for regular and reliable funding for dredging projects started years ago, even before the dredging program was established in 2018. In the years since its inception, the Massachusetts Dredging Program has handed out nearly $20 million and arranged for an additional $25 million in funds to make these projects possible throughout the commonwealth. “Of the state’s 78 coastal communities, 54 have received at least one grant”, Polito said.
“We made the connection between the vitality of the economy in ports throughout coastal Massachusetts, and here on Cape Cod,” Peake said. “If boats can’t get in and out at low tide, that affects commercial and charter fishing, recreational boating, and public safety. If there’s an emergency outside of the harbor and the harbormaster and first responders can’t get there, we rely on the Coast Guard from Provincetown or Chatham to help.”
Wellfleet netted $2.5 million to remove 130,000 cubic yards of material from the South Anchorage. Dredging is also expected to restore water quality for the 90 shellfish harvesters working 260 acres in Wellfleet Harbor. Dennis received $87,000 for maintenance dredging of Sesuit Harbor. An estimated 15,000 cubic yards of sand will be removed from the harbor entrance channel. The money represents the fourth grant Dennis has received. All of them have been used for maintenance dredging at Sesuit Harbor. Dennis Harbor Master Dawson Farber IV said the dredged material will be used for beach nourishment at Cold Storage Beach.
Allen Harbor in Harwich will reel in a $48,000 grant which will allow the removal of 8,000 cubic yards of sand from the entrance channel. Truro received $25,000 to remove 5,000 cubic yards of sand from the approach to Pamet Harbor, its only harbor. Shoaling has built up navigation hazardous during low tide. The harbor supports 20 acres of shellfish farms, 73 moorings and a state boat ramp with parking for 130 vehicles. And Newburyport received $40,000 for its dredging project.
“All of these harbors are important, all of them are little economic engines,” Peake said.