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


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

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.