Selectmen Chairman Mark Mathison pointed to a spot on the table to illustrate areas in Nauset Estuary during a discussion with Geoff Sanders, Cape Cod National Seashore’s chief of natural resource management and science. Their chat continued after the Jan. 13 meeting of the Nauset Estuary Dredging Stakeholder Group. ED MARONEY PHOTO

MA - Studies, Consultations Offer Encouragement For Nauset Dredging Project

Recent studies of sediment types and shellfish resources, and preliminary consultations with regulatory agencies, have not dredged up any issues that would stall efforts to improve navigation in Nauset Estuary, a stakeholder group learned Monday.

Woods Hole Group senior coastal geologist Leslie Fields said core samples identified areas that were primarily sandy, which would mean dredged materials could be used directly to renourish beaches and dunes, and those that included percentages of silt, which would have to be separated hydraulically before such use.

Fields told the Nauset Estuary Dredging Stakeholder Group that a shellfish survey sample of the channel proposed to be dredged and the zone surrounding it found four bay scallops, 24 blue mussels, two soft-shell clams, 31 surf clams, and 269 quahogs. Based on the abundance of that creature, she said, regulators are “will likely want us to do mitigation in advance of dredging, maybe some relays outside of the channel.”

Preliminary conversations with regulatory agencies brought up some matters that must be addressed. Fields said MassWildlife’s National Heritage and Endangered Species Program wants information on alternative disposal sites (Eastham and Orleans are considering creating a dewatering basin just north of Nauset Beach), restricting the size of the basin and its frequency of use, and a close look at the overall impact of the project.

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