Project Description

Cranberry bogs constructed in the early 20th century are still in production throughout Massachusetts, the #2 cranberry producer in the nation. However, one of the key challenges with traditional cranberry farming techniques is the capture and re-routing of free-flowing streams into carved-out irrigation canals, resulting in excessive sedimentation and obstacles for migrating herring, eel, and brook trout. Below is a summary of two of our cranberry farm restoration projects.

Listen to Inter-Fluve’s Nick Nelson and others discuss aquatic restoration projects (including cranberry bog restoration) on Cape Cod and how these projects will contribute to coastal resiliency and habitat diversity. The program aired on the NPR station for the Cape, Coast & Islands (WCAI).

Tidmarsh Farms River & Wetland Restoration

This project involved concept and final designs for 20,000 feet of stream channel restoration; 250 acres of fen and Atlantic white cedar bog restoration; sphagnum reintroduction; fish passage design; and the removal of a 20-foot-high dam in the headwaters. Over 3,000 pieces of large woody debris were incorporated into the stream channel restoration.

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Aerial image of project site before construction illustrates its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

The project restored 250 acres of recently retired cranberry bogs and supporting upland grassland and forest.

Nick Nelson discusses plans with contractors. (Photo: Living Observatory)

 Over 3,000 pieces of large woody debris were incorporated into the stream channel restoration.

Aerial view of restored wetland. The project involved removing dams, water control structures and thousands of tons of sediment, and installing a culvert to reconnect the hydrology in the Beaver Dam Brook watershed. (Photo Eric J. Helle)

The project was highlighted in the New York Times in June 2017.

Eel River Headwaters Restoration & Sawmill Dam Removals

This project involved reclamation of 40 acres of cranberry bog by recreating pre-agriculture hydrology and restoring the area to native Atlantic white cedar and sphagnum dominated swamp; restoration of over 8,000 feet of stream channel; removal of a 15-ft high stone dam; installation and fencing for 17,000 Atlantic white cedar trees; and installation of 1,000 pieces of large wood in the stream for fish habitat. Inter-Fluve received a Coastal America Award presented to the project designers and partners by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior.

Aerial view of the Eel River project. 8,000 feet of new trout stream channel was constructed.

Following construction, hundreds of Drosera rotundifolia – a carnivorous species of sundew often found in bogs – sprouted throughout the project area.

Both the Eel River and Tidmarsh Farms projects focused on transforming cranberry bogs to native Atlantic white cedar swamps.

Six months after construction was completed, the Eel River began to look–and work–like it did centuries ago. (Photo: Alex Hackman, MA Division of Ecological Restoration)

We replaced older culverts with wider ones to encourage fish, turtle, and mammal passage.

Built in the 1800s, the Sawmill Dam on Eel River powered a now-defunct sawmill.

Moments after Sawmill Dam was removed, brook trout could be seen pushing upstream.

Inter-Fluve and project partners received the National Coastal America Partnership Award for the project.