Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lower Shannock Falls Dam removed

The Lower Shannock Falls Dam in Richmond was removed today as part of a larger river habitat and fish passage restoration project on the Pawcatuck River. The Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association (WPWA) and project partners including Save The Bay, are working to provide fish passage at the three dams on the upper Pawcatuck River: Lower Shannock Falls, Upper Shannock (or Horseshoe Falls) and Kenyon Millpond Dam. The project will allow access to 10 miles of the Pawcatuck River and will open up an additional 1,300 acres of spawning habitat including Wordens Pond. This dam, which no longer served its intended purpose, prevented access to migrating fish such as American shad and river herring. The dam was originally built in the 1820s as part of a textile mill. The mill site next to the river is being redeveloped into a public access and riverfront park by the Town of Richmond.

Project partners include the NOAA Restoration Center, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Trout Unlimited, American Rivers, Town of Richmond, RI CRMC and RI DEM. Partial funding came from the ARRA federal stimulus package. Save The Bay supported this project through our partnership with Restore America's Estuaries and NOAA.

This project is one of several large dam removal projects that Save The Bay is working on in partnership with local river groups and state and federal agencies. These include Paragon Dam on the Woonasquatucket River in Providence, Pawtuxet Falls dam on the Pawtuxet River, State Hospital dam on the Mill River in Taunton and Barstowes Pond dam on the Cotley River in Taunton. See the video below of today's removal!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Culvert Installed at Labor in Vain Salt Marsh

Save The Bay first identified the Labor in Vain salt marsh system in Somerset, MA in 1996 as part of a bay-wide assessment of potential salt marsh projects. The site was also included in the Massachusetts Tidal Restriction Atlas and became a project of mine at the Massachusetts Riverways Program in 2004. Many years later, the upper marsh is coming back to life. A new culvert was installed last week that will allow tidal flushing into a section of marsh that was long inundated with fresh water and frozen in the winter to allow ice skating. A small pipe culvert and tide gate allowed very limited influx of salt water.

Skating weather had been harder and harder to come by in recent years, and the town eventually agreed to give up that use and restore full tidal flushing to this marsh which was gradually filling in with Phragmites. When I visited this new culvert yesterday, the channel was absolutely full of tiny young of the year mummichogs (small fish that are born and live their young lives in salt marshes). We also saw fresh animal tracks in the marsh. It was amazing to see this abundance of life in the newly formed tidal creek. Many project partners put in years of work on this project including the Town of Somerset and the Massachusetts Wetland Restoration Program. More work will hopefully be done on the downstream tidal restrictions in future years.