Thursday, April 14, 2011

MEET THE STAFF: Abigail Franklin, Anadromous Fish Restoration Project Manager

Abigail Franklin likes to encourage others to see a project from the river herring's point of view.

By Loryn Dion, Public Affairs Intern, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Even when Abigail Franklin was a young girl, building pretend-fish ladders out of couch cushions with her brother rather than forts like the other kids, it was already obvious what her career would be. Now working as the Anadromous Fish Restoration Project Manager with the Cape Cod Conservation District in Massachusetts, anyone can tell that Abigail is passionate about what she does.

Abigail is working on the Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project (CCWRRP), a collaborative project of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Cape Cod Conservation District, and the Barnstable County Commissioners, with cooperation from other federal, state and local agencies.

The project will restore salt marshes, recover fish passage and improve water quality for shellfish beds. The plan identifies 76 sites throughout Cape Cod for possible restoration including 26 stormwater discharge sites, 26 tidally-restricted salt marshes and 24 obstructed fish passages.

As project manager, Abigail’s job involves keeping track of permits and deadlines, answering questions, and resolving issues, sometimes by just putting people in the same room together to discuss construction plans.  “I also like to encourage others to see the project from the river herring’s point of view,” says Abigail.

River herring are a source of food for commercially and recreationally important species like Atlantic Cod and Striped Bass. The CCWRRP has so many beneficial and diverse projects planned, that it’s difficult for Abigail to pick one that she’s most excited about.

“All of the projects are so different and each important in their own way. The Cedar Lake project in Falmouth will replace a deteriorating fish ladder and road culvert to maintain river herring access to spawning grounds. In contrast, at Lower Red Brook in Bourne, river herring are only able to reach a culvert during high tide, which leaves them vulnerable to predators at low tide. Weirs will be constructed to allow the fish to swim to the culvert during more of the tidal cycle,” says Abigail.

The position was Abigail’s dream job and exactly what she was qualified for with her BA in Natural Science from Hampshire College and her MS from UMass Amherst in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation. One of her favorite parts of her job is talking with people out in the field.

 “I love being outside and speaking with natural resource managers and citizens who are enthusiastic and so proud and protective of their herring runs.”

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