Why Cranberry Bogs are Returning to Wetlands

Cranberry farming has played a part in Cape Cod history for decades upon decades, and generations of families are behind the cranberry industry’s bountiful harvest on the peninsula.  Today, there are still cranberry bogs in operation, and visitors are commonly drawn to the region during cranberry harvesting season.

Despite the industry’s successful past, some of those cranberry bogs are now in the process of being returned to wetlands. It’s happening as some farms have ceased operations and local municipalities have purchased the land for preservation reasons.

That’s the case in Mashpee, where town officials recently partnered with an environmental consulting firm to restore two old cranberry bogs at Santuit Pond to wetlands. The Chop Chaque bogs ceased production several years ago. The new restoration project is slated to happen this winter.

Crews plan on removing the old vines and extra sand that have been built up over all the years and decades of cranberry farming. They’ll also be removing a culvert that connects the pond to the bogs, taking out a pump house, and filling some artificial ditches.

Funds for the project come from a grant tied to the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. The bogs in Mashpee are being restored for ecological reasons, but they aren’t the only ones on Cape Cod that are being transformed.

In Marsons Mills, a larger bog restoration is planned. This particular project aims to improve water quality in the area of the bog, and downstream. Some say returning the old bogs to wetlands will be good not only for water quality in the future, but could also help restore ecosystems and benefit wildlife, such as wood frogs, box turtles, and mole salamanders, some of which are currently threatened.

It could also help waterfowl and help native vegetation grow. There are other sites that could be restored too, including other bogs in Mashpee, although the Chop Chaque bogs are the first such projects to get underway in the town.

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