iBerkshires.com  reports the town of Windsor has been awarded $165,000 to replace a culvert on the East Branch of the Westfield River. Windsor's grant is largest of 16 awards targeting culvert replacement and river health and totaling $932,000.
Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides announced the grants at an event last week at Windsor State Forest, then visited the sites of two culvert projects in Windsor and Cummington that received grants. Also receiving funds were Clarksburg and Sheffield.
Windsor will replace an undersized and deteriorated culvert on the East Branch with a larger, safer structure that meets road-stream crossing standards. The upper Westfield River and tributaries provide some of the best cold water and fluvial fish communities in the commonwealth.
Clarksburg received $41,000 to conduct field data collection and analysis, design and engineering, and permitting for a culvert replacement on Bear Swamp Brook. Upgrading the culvert allows cold water species to access to critical cold water streams, particularly important as the climate warms and stream temperature increases. The road also serves a primary emergency access route.
Sheffield received $54,000 for final engineering and design and permitting for a culvert replacement on Dry Brook. The current structure results in frequent roadway flooding and repair costs. Upgrading this culvert will improve Sheffield’s infrastructure and storm resilience, reduce maintenance costs, and improve passage for fish and wildlife, including the federally listed bog turtle.
And Cummington got $80,000 to complete design and engineering tasks for the culvert replacement on the North Branch of the Swift River. Upgrading the culvert will enhance public safety, resiliency, and ecological conditions and maintain economic connectivity. The North Branch Swift River is a tributary to the Wild & Scenic Westfield River, a cold water stream that provides critical habitat for state-listed fish only found in Massachusetts in the upper tributaries of the Westfield River.
Nearly half of Massachusetts' more than 25,000 small bridges and culverts act as barriers to fish and wildlife because they are undersized or poorly positioned. Undersized culverts can also present a serious risk to public safety.
Fourteen of the 16 grants were provided through the Division of Ecological Restoration's Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance Grant Program, which helps municipalities replace undersized and deteriorating culverts with crossings that meet improved design standards for fish and wildlife passage, river health, and storm resiliency. Grants to the town of Boxford and Trout Unlimited/town of Chester were procured separately by the DER.