The Bayview Bogs Wetland Restoration Project, designed to bring 89 acres of abandoned commercial cranberry bogs situated off Bayview Road in West Yarmouth back to its natural state, has moved into the initial data collection and assessment phase.
As a first step, the Cape Cod Conservation District (CCCD), which is partnering on the project with the land’s owner, Cape Cod Hospital (CCH), has contracted with Horsley Witten Group (HWG) to perform a hydrologic study to understand surface and groundwater flow in the bog system, CCCD board chair Mark Forest announced recently. In addition, the CCCD has contracted with Ilex Environmental, Inc. to support background data gathering to understand the site’s history and context within the landscape.
The study will give a better understanding of the water flow and movement on the property,” said Forest. “We need to find the outlets for the water flowing through it.”
The Bayview Bogs Wetland Restoration Project was designated a Priority Project in 2022 by the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). The CCCD is coordinating the restoration efforts with DER and the hospital, and is acting as coordinator for input from stakeholders in the bog area.
A $400,000 grant was awarded to the CCCD by the DER to be used for hydrology studies including surface and groundwater studies, design and engineering, and permitting. The grant will also provide support for community outreach and engagement through the grant period.
“DER is delighted to partner with CCCD, CCH, and the West Yarmouth community on this important ecological restoration project,” said DER Director Beth Lambert. “DER is supporting the project with funding and technical support from beginning through completion. Once restored, Bayview Bogs will improve fish and wildlife habitat, benefit public safety, and offer access to nature for the community.”
Over the winter, project partners have held meetings, initiated outreach, documented existing information on the site and strategized on funding and project timelines. With the hiring of HWG, the project will now move into an active assessment stage, said Forest.
“The good news is the testing and diagnosis work had started,” he said.
All parties involved in the project are hopeful that the bogs can be brought back to a healthy ecosystem that can offer hospital patients and family members a tranquil place for contemplation and healing, a space for passive recreation for neighbors and community members, and possible climate adaptation benefits by restoring the ebb and flow of water into nearby Lewis Bay.
Before that, however, much work is needed to determine the ecological impact of more than 100 years of cranberry farming on the site. Since farming ended there in the mid- 1990s, invasive plants and other non-native species have grown into the altered landscape, said Forest.
“Mother Nature won’t let the bog stay as it is,” he said. “It’s been affected by many forces, including climate change, road water runoffs and various management efforts.”
While the ecological restoration of the bog land is getting the most attention, there are other potential benefits, according to Forest
“The project includes non-ecological factors, such as asset potential for the neighborhood, including public benefits such as safety, recreation and healthy activities for patients, families and visitors at the hospital, and people in the community,” he said.
The goal of this initial phase of the work, which will continue through 2024, is to fully understand the site (both from an environmental and public use perspective – past and present) and assemble a shared vision for its future. The project team then plans to move into the conceptual design phase, followed by project permitting, final engineering, design and construction. Recently, HWG staff has been conducting field work to locate old water level monitoring wells and installing new wells as needed. They have also deployed data loggers in the monitoring wells that will collect water level data over the next six months or longer, and use high-accuracy survey equipment to examine all wells.
The information collected will be compiled into a summary report that will include an existing conditions plan; soil profile logs of surface and groundwater wells; the collected water level data; and a water table map. This data and summary report will support the next phase of bog restoration design planning.
The next steps after the assessment phase, according to Forest, include:
- Restoration options and discussions
- Develop options.
- Obtain input and consensus from all stakeholders, including neighbors, conservation groups, governmental agencies and authorities.
- Develop a restoration plan “where all understand the vision and are actively invested in it.”
For more information on the Bayview Bogs Wetland Restoration Project, visit bayviewbog.com.