Improving Duxbury Bay: Bay management study committee provides update

Written by Gillian Smith
 | Thursday, 31 July 2014 19:23


Selectmen approved an updated Duxbury Bay Management plan last week and will work with the committee to improve bay access and ecology.



The Duxbury Bay Management Study Committee was appointed in 2002 and completed the first bay management plan in 2005. Included in the plan was the recommendation to establish a Bay Management Commission. The charter for the committee includes updating the plan every five years.


Davenport highlighted several areas of progress since the last bay management plan and included updates on the shellfish management plan, Island Creek restoration and emergency management plan.


The shellfish plan was re- viewed by the Bay Management Study Committee and feedback and suggestions were given on the plan, per the request of the Shellfish Advisory Committee. At Island Creek, the restoration of the herring run has made a significant impact in the ecosystems in the area, Davenport said. At the herring run, the Bay Management Study Committee and the Conservation Commission worked to clean out the herring run, build a ladder and put more herring back into the area, all of which have had a positive impact on the area.


“It’s been pretty successful,” he said. “A lot more fish have been quoted in the area this year than in any other year.”


The committee has also been working with the harbormaster to put into effect a storm management plan that details what to do in the event of a storm or a hurricane.


“It is a very detailed and orchestrated plan for how to evacuate boats and trailers from the area in the event of an emergency,” he said.


Davenport also presented a revised bay management plan that included water quality, shell fishing, boating and safety and mooring updates. The new recommendations for the bay management plan included establishing a program for monitoring and addressing water quality issues. Davenport suggested designating one person to oversee the programming and to establish procedures to identify problem sources.


The revised plan included a recommendation to identify and prioritize activities that threaten shellfish populations and human consumption that should be monitored. He suggested collaborating with other committees to initiate a capacity study and to explore the feasibility of a municipal shellfish propagation program. Propagation is the process of creating new plants — in this case, shellfish, — from a variety of sources such as seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plant parts.


There are currently efforts to utilize aquaculture buoys to identify cage structures and mark grant boundaries, but Davenport said he thinks more can be done to ensure consistency in markings and increase educating the boating community. He suggested adoption by the Harbormaster of regulations that formalize existing limits on the number of moorings in designated anchorings.


The updated bay management plan also outlined a recommendation to develop and publish a waterways guide for bay users including the location of public access areas, such as landings and ramps; information on tides in the bay, such as spring versus neap tides; a description of aquaculture lease areas, practices and laws; delineation of “caution areas;” and safety information, such as locations and phone numbers of emergency personnel and resources.


In Davenport’s updated plan for bay access, he encouraged the Harbormaster to evaluate a reconfiguration of the basin mooring grid to minimize shoaling problems from gradual silting between dredging. He recommended conducting a shoreline access survey to inspect structures that have been identified as causing obstruction to public passage.


With regards to restoration, Davenport suggested establishing a central resource of information to facilitate public education about the marsh ecosystem. Also on the list was a recommendation to support acquisition efforts by the Conservation Commission, the Community Preservation Act Committee and non-profit organizations to preserve the views of the bay and its estuaries.


Davenport said the two most important aspects of the updated plan are ecology and bay access. Looking forward, he said the committee will focus on prioritizing initiatives from the plan and working with other town committees to start putting plans in motions.