Restoration Work To Include
Dam Removal, Ladder Repair
and Habitat Restoration
NMFS Northeast Region
N E W SEditors: Photo ops include short comments by federal, state, and local officials; trapping and transfer of river herring; and viewing of pre-restoration habitat and structures
Gloucester, Mass.– Federal, state, and local officials will be on hand in Plymouth Friday to help with the last trap and transfer of river herring at Town Brook in the historic community.
The trap and transfer is required now to move fish around a dam that formed part of the foundation for a mill on Town Brook that burned down in the 1960s. Beginning next spring, the way should be clear for fish to migrate from Plymouth Harbor to Billington Sea without human intervention. Plans call for removing the dam, restoring the habitat in lower portions of the stream, and repairing fish ladders as part of a larger plan to restore native river herring to their historic upstream spawning areas.
Patricia Kurkul, Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, a federal marine agency, Tom Skinner, Director of Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, and David Peters, Commissioner, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement, are scheduled to attend the event, which begins at 2 PM at the Jenny Grist Mill on Spring Street in Plymouth.
“We are excited to be significant partners in the first project in the Commonwealth that removes a dam to improve habitat for migratory fish,” said Kurkul.
Migratory fish such as river herring (blueback herring and alewife, for example) are important to both the commercial and recreational fisheries of Massachusetts, and have historical importance as a diet staple. This restoration is expected to eventually increase the river herring population in Town Brook significantly, as well as eliminate the need to trap, then transfer and release fish upstream to spawn.
The Town of Plymouth received several federal and state grants for the project. Town Brook flows from Billington Sea (a 250 acre freshwater pond) through Plymouth town center and into the harbor. Partial funding, and technical assistance to do the work, are provided through a partnership between the federal NOAA Fisheries Community-Based Restoration Program and the American Sportfishing Association’s FishAmerica program.
During this year, two critical fish passage areas that are now nearly impassable to migrating fish will be restored. The dam at Billington Street will be removed to restore this portion of Town Brook to its former shape and depth. Once the dam is removed, the channel bottom will be regraded using small cobbles and gravel to mimic the upstream and downstream substrates; riparian habitat will be restored by recontouring streambanks and planting native vegetation. The fish ladder at Newfield Street will also be replaced.
The Pilgrim Trail herring restoration, funded at well over $150,000, is part of a larger project to provide access for native river herring to their indigenous spawning waters upstream of the Town Brook. In all, 15 organizations are involved in the project partnership. Other federal agencies involved in the project include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Six agencies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Town of Plymouth, and an engineering firm are the other partners.