Mitigation on the Mudflats – The Provincetown Independent

Mitigation on the Mudflats – The Provincetown Independent


By The Independent

Meetings Ahead

Most meetings in Wellfleet are remote only, but some are held in person. Go to and click on the meeting you want to watch, then follow the instructions on the agenda. 

Thursday, Jan. 26 

  • Board of Assessors, 9:30 a.m.
  • Local Housing Partnership, 4 p.m.
  • Nauset Regional School Committee, 6 p.m.
  • Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 30 

  • Shellfish Advisory Board, 6 p.m. 

Tuesday, Jan. 31 

  • Select Board, 7 p.m.

Conversation Starters

Mitigation on the Mudflats

Select board member John Wolf presented an update on the $20-million dredging project at the Wellfleet Harbor mooring field during the board’s Jan. 17 meeting.

The final phase of the project is slowly inching forward after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conceded at the Jan. 4 County Assembly of Delegates meeting that the mooring field to which it had previously attached a mitigation value of $14.5 million isn’t a productive mudflat for marine life.

The federal Clean Water Act requires projects that disturb a natural ecosystem to offset the environmental damage with money or conservation land — this is known as “mitigation.”

This means the mitigation requirements of the project could be reduced to a far more manageable figure, said Wolf.

The Army Corps has asked Harbormaster Will Sullivan to work with its consultants to outline what the town believes to be a reasonable mitigation value for the mooring field, Wolf said.

Members of the dredging task force at its Jan 9 meeting discussed protecting 30 acres below and 30 acres above the dike on the Herring River as possible mitigation, given that the Army Corps has determined the federally funded Herring River Restoration in the area does not disqualify it from eligibility for conservation.

Protecting these 60 acres as conservation land would mean, however, that they could not be used for what the Army Corps refers to as “commercial exploitation” — and that would include commercial shellfishing.

Whether recreational fishing and wild harvesting would be banned is still unclear, Wolf said.

Wolf said time is of the essence when it comes to deciding on an area of land for mitigation. The town has a pending $2.5-million grant from the state if a dredging contract can be signed by June 30.

If all goes according to plan, the dredging will begin in October, Wolf said.

Open Space Survey

The town is updating its Open Space and Recreation 5-Year Plan and is looking for community input through an online survey. The survey will be used to “identify the needs and concerns of the community regarding Wellfleet’s open space and recreation resources,” the survey’s description reads.

An approved OSR plan will qualify the town for reimbursement programs to offset costs related to open space projects.

Find the survey at —Sam Pollak