Restored Mass. cranberry bogs offer value

Foothills Preserve during restoration in September 2020.

© L. Watts

Foothills Preserve during restoration in September 2020.

Ducks Unlimited is actively helping several partners in Massachusetts restore former cranberry bog farms for waterfowl and wildlife.

The cranberry is Massachusetts’ official state berry, and cranberry bog farms have taken root in the economy and culture surrounding Plymouth, Massachusetts for 200 years. Historic farms often replaced coastal wetland, and the valuable migrating bird habitat these wetlands offered. Ducks Unlimited and its partners look for opportunities to turn retired farms back into coastal habitat.

Ducks Unlimited recently completed a project at Foothills Preserve (also known as Tidmarsh West), a former cranberry bog now owned by the Town of Plymouth. The project restored 45 acres by reconnecting the site to the flood plain and back to the ocean, which will restore natural habitat.

DU is part of a new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to protect retiring cranberry farmland as open space and implement wetland restoration actions on these lands.  Over the next five years, the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife will advance the RCPP that includes more than 20 sites containing 1,800 acres of land protection and 900 acres of wetland restoration.  The long-term benefits of the project will improve fish and wildlife habitat, address water quality concerns, and provide long term resiliency in a critical coast marsh system. DU is one of many partners helping advance the program goals.

A new study offers great insight as to the benefits of restoring these former cranberry bogs. The Living Observatory, a public interest learning community founded in 2011 to complement the comprehensive stream and wetland restoration at Tidmarsh Farms, summarized these benefits for the state:

Read The Living Observatory report here.