An effort years in the making, it was officially announced that a fishway will be installed on our campus this summer. The following is a news release from The Nature Conservancy that details this exciting project:
Falls River to Benefit from Fishway Construction this Summer
CENTERBROOK, CT (March 12, 2019) – Migratory alewife and blueback herring will soon be able to reach additional high-quality habitat—including the 59-acre Mill Pond in Centerbrook—with The Nature Conservancy’s construction of two fishways on the Falls River this summer.
To be built at the Mill Pond and Dolan Pond dams, the fishways also will benefit migratory American eel and other resident fish and improving overall river health.
The building of a fishway around the 18-foot tall Mill Pond dam, which is slated to begin in late summer, is supported by a generous $250,000 grant from the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation. The Nature Conservancy continues to raise money to round out support for the project.
The Dolan Pond dam fishway project—expected to kick off as early as July—is supported by the Audubon Connecticut In-Lieu Fee Program and Tom’s of Maine. Tom’s of Maine’s support for the Mill Pond dam project is part of a larger contribution of $1.8 million to TNC to help restore and revitalize waterways in need.
There are more than 4,000 dams in Connecticut. Most of these dams were built during the Colonial and Industrial periods and no longer serve the purposes for which they were built. They do, however, block fish migration and impact river health.
“Migratory fish like alewife and blueback herring need access to upstream freshwater habitat to reproduce and rebuild their own populations,” said Sally Harold, director of river restoration and fish passage for TNC in Connecticut. “These dams keep them from getting to that critical habitat.”
Without a robust population of fish like alewife, an entire host of creatures including turtles, otters, racoons, eagles and many marine fish lose a critical food source.
In cases where dams can’t be taken down, fishways—sometimes called fish ladders—provide an alternate approach to opening access to habitat.
Fishways are made up of a series of ascending pools or a roughened chute that allows fish to get over or around a dam. Migrating fish swim upstream through the flowing water that connects the pools, resting in the pools along the way.
At 18-feet tall, the Mill Pond dam—which is only a half-mile upstream from the Dolan Pond dam—is the larger of two projects.
For that project, The Nature Conservancy is working with Centerbrook Architects, the dam’s owner, to develop opportunities for the public to view alewife on their journey upstream through a viewing window that will be incorporated into the fishway wall
The Mill Pond and Dolan Pond fishways will be TNC’s second and third fishways on the Falls River. In 2014, TNC and partners built a fishway downriver at the Tiley-Pratt dam.