Forty-four Massachusetts companies are contributing $1 million and a half dollars worth of support to projects dedicated to restoring Massachusetts wetlands.

Massachusetts' environmental officials see great potential for tapping the skills of the private sector on public projects to restore ecologically-important wetlands and migratory fish passages. Speaking at an event in Boston, DEP Commissioner Bob Golledge recognized companies exemplifying environmental stewardship in action. At the same meeting, James Stergois, EOEA Undersecretary for Policy, underscored the efficiencies gained on projects where private firms voluntarily lend technical expertise and financial support to get a project underway. The event highlighted the achievements of the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP), a non-governmental organization. Through the CWRP, 44 Massachusetts companies are contributing $1 million and a half dollars worth of support to two dozen projects stretching from Gloucester to Eastham.

Massachusetts firms Alpha Analytical Laboratories and ICF Consulting were among firms honored for volunteering professional services on environmental projects. Alpha Analytical helped advance a salt marsh restoration project in Chelsea by providing lab analysis of sediment samples.

The CWRP is currently involved in restoring over 500 acres in Massachusetts at numerous locations, including several coastal wetlands projects on Cape Cod. Besides cash donations, companies have donated employee time and resources to the variety of tasks required in restoration work such as field surveys, hydrologic modeling, engineering, and construction activities (excavation, channel and culvert work, design of fish passage). CWRP partners assist local project sponsors, usually municipalities and environmental organizations, that want to bring back the state's wetland heritage, re-open former fish passages, and increase the biodiversity in these productive natural areas.

Four years ago, the EPA, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, and The Gillette Company, originated the idea of inviting the private sector to collaborate on publicly sponsored projects in order to advance more projects. The value of CWRP donations are used as a match for three times that amount in federal funding from various Coastal America agencies* such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA, and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Started in Massachusetts, CWRP chapters have expanded to nine other states, including Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Alaska, California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and most recently, Georgia.

The Massachusetts CWRP operates as a private sector initiative, working with the federal Coastal America agencies and state agencies. An independent board selects the projects to support; and allocates company donations to approved projects. The practice of wetland restoration returns a wetland to a close approximation of its condition prior to being disturbed by roads or land development that restricted the tidal flushing in coastal areas, or altered the hydrology in the case of filled freshwater wetlands.

Companies honored at the event in Boston included: Alpha Analytical (Westborough); Alton Engineering (Sterling); Eastern Topographics (Wolfeboro, NH); Goodwin Procter LLP (Boston); ICF Consulting (Lexington); and Metcalf & Eddy (Wakefield). Also recognized were two non-profit organizations: Thompson Island Outward Bound Center (Boston); and the Urban Harbors Institute (Boston).

Source: Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, March 31, 2004