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UMass Dartmouth Chancellor announces financial commitment to protecting coastal environment

University partners with private organizations and towns to finance 8 critical estuary reports and launches fundraising campaign to endow scientific work for the long-term

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack was joined today by legislators, Cape Cod community officials, and representatives from environmental and planning organizations, to announce a major commitment by the University to the protection of the coastal environment.

Chancellor MacCormack announced that the University has partnered with the Cape Cod Commission, Three Bays Preservation Inc. LLoyd Center for the Environment in Dartmouth, and Applied Coastal Research Inc. to match town and Barnstable County funding of time-sensitive reports that the towns of Harwich, Orleans, Yarmouth, Dennis and Dartmouth need to continue their wastewater planning efforts under the Massachusetts Estuaries Project. The project is a collaboration between UMass Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Chancellor MacCormack also announced that the University has launched a campaign to establish a $2 million endowment to support the work of its scientists who are devoted to protecting and restoring the Commonwealth's coastal environment.  The goal is to ensure continued support of community restoration efforts throughout southeastern Massachusetts over the long-term.

"Using our scientific expertise to serve the people and communities of the Commonwealth is central to our mission as a university, so we are pleased to make this bold commitment to protecting and preserving our most fragile natural resources,'' Chancellor MacCormack said. "We look forward to continuing this important work in collaboration with the MassDEP and our coastal communities for many years to come.''

"This announcement comes at a crucial time, after the passage of the Massachusetts Clean water act and the availability of roughly $100 Million per year to carry out the clean-up,'' said State Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Cape & Islands. "The Massachusetts Estuaries Project is a critical partner in our efforts to restore our inland and coastal waterways, and I applaud UMass Dartmouth and the School for Marine Science and Technology for their leadership in addressing one of the largest environmental issues in the Commonwealth."

"The Massachusetts Estuary Project is an innovative and important project, providing communities with the consistent, science-based information they need to effectively address nitrogen pollution in their bays and estuaries." stated MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt. "We are pleased that this important work is back on track, and today's investment by UMass Dartmouth is a clear demonstration of the University's commitment to these efforts."

"This action today is a big positive move forward for the region's environment,'' said UMass Dartmouth Prof. Brian Howes, the scientific leader of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project. "It is essential that the science that underpins watershed planning to protect and restore the estuaries and ponds of Cape Cod move forward without further delay. The estuaries and ponds of the region have become impaired at an increasing rate over the past two decades. Without action now, the tremendous effort needed to restore these systems can fade, like in some other coastal areas of the U.S..  The Cape is now at a cross-roads as to what the long-term health of its fragile coastal environments will be. Choosing to restore and protect them will ensure their value for future generations. This unprecedented action by the University and its regional partners to jump-start the Estuaries Project is a clear commitment to the need to support the regions communities in this most important endeavor for both for present and future generations."

By contributing university and private funds, the university will be able to complete work on these critical reports, which form the basis for Town watershed planning.  These reports have been delayed over the last several months as UMass Dartmouth and
DEP worked out issues related to data ownership, access and project management. Last month, UMass Dartmouth and DEP entered into an agreement on those issues, and this week completed a contract to finalize reports on nine other estuaries, previously given to the Towns. The University and DEP are in process of developing a new contract for the next full phase of the project.

The announcement was made at the Board of Selectmen Meeting Room at Yarmouth Town Hall.

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  11-Sep-2008
Department:   SMAST

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