The Restoration Project will bring the Muddy River back to health. Long-term success will require commitment to a concerted maintenance program.

Photo: Thomas O'Connor

About the Project

Two Phases of Work

The Muddy River Restoration Project is a large-scale engineering and historic park restoration effort. A collaboration between federal, state, local governments, institutions, organizations and private citizens, the Project addresses long-standing concerns about flood risk, ecosystem degradation, and historic preservation along the historic 3.5-mile urban waterway.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), City of Boston, and Town of Brookline are working together (along with a number of sub-contractors) to improve climate resiliency and recreational use of the Muddy River and its parks. The most visible work involves dredging approximately 90,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment from the River, removing invasive plants, and restoring the historic park shoreline. 

Project Phase 1 focused on “daylighting” a quarter-mile stretch of river that had been buried underground and establishing the new Justine Mee Liff Park, named for the former City of Boston Parks Commissioner and beloved champion of urban parks. This work began in 2014 and was completed in 2016.

Project Phase 2 is currently under way. It involves dredging for flood mitigation, invasive species removal, and habitat restoration along the length of the Muddy River from Leverett Pond to Charlesgate. This phase began in 2020 and is expected to continue through 2023, with additional landscaping work and annual maintenance to follow.

Once complete, the restored Muddy River will reduce the risk of catastrophic flooding and better reflect Olmsted’s vision for an urban greenspace to be enjoyed by all.

Project Partners

Collaborating governments and citizens groups

The Restoration Project is overseen by a cabinet of key project partners who meet quarterly. Cabinet members include representatives from five agencies and organizations.

MMOC: As the formal oversight body for the Project, the chair of the MMOC coordinates cabinet meetings and ensures smooth communication between public agencies. The MMOC also advocates for the interests of a variety of civic groups and advocacy organizations. 

Town of Brookline: Brookline Department of Public Works oversees the parts of the Project that fall within town limits. Brookline also coordinates the restoration of the Carlton Street Footbridge.

City of Boston: Boston Parks and Recreation Department oversees the parts of the project that fall within city limits. Most of long-term landscape maintenance work is the responsibility of BPRD. 

Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation: DCR has jurisdiction over the historic parkways, including the Riverway and the Fenway. The agency is responsible for more than 80 stormwater outfalls that discharge into the Muddy River as well as key sections of forest and lawn. 

Emerald Necklace Conservancy: A nonprofit with three decades of experience working in the Muddy River parks, the ENC advocates for the maintenance of the entire Emerald Necklace and partners with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to oversee private maintenance contracts.

Additional key stakeholder:

US Army Corps of Engineers: USACE staff are the primary engineers of the Project. It oversees the dredging work undertaken by the contractor, Charter Contracting Company.

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs: Several EOEEA secretaries played a critical role in creating the MMOC as the citizen oversight committee and establishing the structure of the Project’s cabinet. Its primary role now is to ensure the cabinet functions as designed and meets its obligations. 

The MMOC looks forward to participating in National Invasive Species Week, International Mud Day, Opening our Doors, Earth Day, National Pollinator Week, our annual Muddy River Symposium in partnership with the Colleges of the Fenway, and more.

Our member organizations support a robust array of environmental causes, from climate resilience and preservation of the urban tree canopy to environmental justice. Contact them for more information. 

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