Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Largest Salt Marsh Restoration in the Northeast to Bring Back Cape Cod River Herring

June 11, 2024

NOAA and our partners are helping river herring safely reach their historic spawning grounds by restoring a degraded estuary in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

River herring migrating up a Cape Cod stream (Photo: Danielle Weissman/NOAA) River herring migrating up a Cape Cod stream (Photo: Danielle Weissman/NOAA)

After decades of planning, NOAA and our partners are moving forward with the Herring River Restoration Project, the largest salt marsh restoration effort in the northeast United States. NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation awarded $14.7 million to the Town of Wellfleet, Massachusetts through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act for this effort in 2023.

When implementation is complete, river herring, a keystone species in the estuarine food web, will be able to return and spawn in greater numbers to the Herring River. Their migration has been constrained for more than a century due to limited fish passage and poor water quality. River herring include alewives and blueback herring.

In the past, hundreds of thousands of river herring returned to the Herring River each spring to spawn. However, when Chequessett Neck Dike was built in 1909, it severely limited fish passage. Over the decades, this river herring population dropped by 90 percent.

Watch the video below to learn more about river herring and how NOAA and its partners plan to help them reach their spawning grounds.  

Additional project partners include: