New England WSC seminar series Hackman 20190404

Science Center Objects

The abandonment of cranberry farmland in southeastern Massachusetts presents an opportunity for wide-scale protection and ecological restoration of coastal wetland systems.  Potentially thousands of acres of Massachusetts’ historic wetlands are now in transition, and there is a state-level political focus on the plight of the cranberry industry. 

Date/Time: Thursday, April 4, 2019, 12:00 pm

Title: Ecological restoration of abandoned cranberry farmland: Science, practice, and next steps

Presented by: Alex Hackman, Restoration Ecologist/Cranberry Bog Program Manager, Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration

Location: USGS, Massachusetts Office, Northborough, MA

Abstract: 

The abandonment of cranberry farmland in southeastern Massachusetts presents an opportunity for wide-scale protection and ecological restoration of coastal wetland systems. Potentially thousands of acres of Massachusetts’ historic wetlands are now in transition, and there is a state-level political focus on the plight of the cranberry industry. Meanwhile, a burgeoning ecological restoration practice exists in Massachusetts to leverage this opportunity while mitigating the risks of inaction -including permanent wetland degradation from legacy agricultural impacts (e.g. fill over native soils, ditching, dams) and other development pressures facing these lands.For the past decade, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) and partners have been restoring wetlands in abandoned cranberry fields, affording a vision of what is possible. During that time, we have developed and refined a practical, process-based framework to guide restoration actions, successfully completed several pilot projects (including Tidmarsh Farms, the largest freshwater wetland restoration project to date in Massachusetts), helped transition private farmland to protected open space, and established a learning collaborative to assess outcomes and improve practice over time.This talk will provide overall context, summarize these developments, and describe the formation a new state program dedicated to this type of wetland restoration work. The talk will end with a call for new collaboration with USGS, as evidence is urgently needed to assess outcomes (e.g. N removal) and improve restoration practice.