The restoration of the storm-battered Popponesset Spit received a major boost this week when Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick announced that Save Popponesset Bay has been awarded a $194,188 grant.
The funding will be used to begin the design and permitting of a multi-year project that will involve extensive dune restoration and beach nourishment of the fragile ribbon of sand on Mashpee’s south shore.
The grant awarded to Save Popponesset Bay, a private nonprofit organization that owns most of the spit, a barrier beach separating the bay from Nantucket Sound, was part of $1.5 million in funding from the Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience Grants Program. The program is administered by the Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Office of Coastal Zone Management.
In October, the Mashpee selectmen voted unanimously to provide a letter of support for the grant application.
“This grant is a real shot in the arm and a great first step as we focus on rebuilding the spit,” said John J. Malloy Jr., a member of the Save Popponesset Bay board of advisors.
Mr. Malloy said that while the group will never be able to bring the spit back to its size and stature of decades ago when it was home to a wide beach, a clubhouse, and parking lot, it hopes to rebuild it enough to withstand major storms such as Hurricane Sandy, which smashed into it in October 2012.
The spit was washed over in five different places during Sandy, and it took nearly a year to repair it with sand buildup, dune grass plantings, and installation of protective fencing.
“We want to rebuild the dunes on the barrier beach from a height and width standpoint to give them a lot more mass, as well as widen the spit and build out the beach. This will give the waves room to exhaust their energy before hitting the dunes,” Mr. Malloy said, adding that a rebuilt spit will also benefit homes inside the bay with storm damage protection, as well as improving water quality, navigation, and recreational activities.
Save Popponesset Bay is also working closely with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which owns the outermost portion of the spit, to ensure that the rebuilding process enhances wildlife habitat.
Mr. Malloy estimates the entire design and permitting phase of the project, which is being developed by the Woods Hole Group, a Falmouth-based environmental consulting firm, will cost $277,000. The additional $83,000 not covered by the grant will be raised by Save Popponesset Bay.
The design and permitting phase of the project is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2016, with the actual rebuilding phase expected to take two to three years, depending upon finances and availability of sand renourishment resources.
“We’ll be working very hard in 2015 to move the process forward, as well as to raise additional funds,” Mr. Malloy said.