DNR: 2009 in review

The Brewster Natural Resources Department includes shellfish propagation and management, harbormaster duties (boats and moorings), and management of public lands, including coastal beaches, flats, and ponds. We also work with various town and county committees and boards related to Brewster's natural environment.

The department includes:
Chris Miller, Director
Ryan Burch, Natural Resources Assistant/Assistant Harbormaster
Jim Gallagher, Conservation Administrator/Natural Resources Assistant

The department samples public bathing beaches weekly in season (for bacteria). We also monitor the nutrient/pesticide and herbicide use at Captains Golf Course and the Freemans Way Recreation Fields on a tri-annual basis.

Working with the Brewster Pond and Lake Stewards, we sample the ponds in town, monitoring water quality.

We host an AmeriCorp individual placement each year; this year we are working on publishing information on improving Brewster's pond water quality.

AmeriCorp also assisted us with group days, providing a dozen eager volunteers to take on some more advanced projects in town, including sorting oysters in our propagation areas; clearing brush and downed trees in our fire management areas of the Punkhorns, and helping to maintain the field habitat project at Wings Island.

We run an active summer intern program. This year we had an independant study on water quality and suitability for shellfish growth in Freemans Pond. We also had a regular group of high school interns working with us on shellfish, land management, and other duties.

We also have an active volunteer program for adults. This year we had one intern come in weekly for several hours, who could work independantly on several vital projects. We also have a core group of volunteers who assist with shellfish work, including oyster propagation, and stocking quahogs in our summer area off Saints Landing. Without this additional help we could not offer the level of service the town has come to expect.

We have begun work on replacing the undersized culverts on Stony Brook under Rt. 6a as part of a federal ARRA stimulus grant. We expect to spend countless hours on this during 2010, culminating in the culvert replacement in fall 2010.

The undersized culverts are failing; and they prevent much of the tide waters from flooding the salt marsh south of Rt. 6a. The larger culverts will restore over 20 acres of salt marsh, and will help several rare plant species in the Stony Brook Valley.

Stony Brook is also one of the best herring runs in the state, and improving this culvert is part of our efforts to maintain and improve this fish run.

Part of this project includes work on the Lee Baldwin Trail at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, as the larger culverts will allow more salt water onto the marsh south of 6a. This will flood out the trail at certain tides; as mitigation, we will be reworking portions of the trail.

This has been a great public/private partnership between the Town, NOAA Restoration Center (the funding source), the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History (the landowner for the marsh restoration area), the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (co-project manager), Coastal Zone Management/Wetland Restoration Program, and Division of Marine Fisheries (project management and sponsorship), MA Highways (owner of the roadway and culvert), Brewster Alewife Committee, and countless others.