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DAM RIGHT: Hathaway Pond fish ladder donations transferred to Beaton's Inc. 7-30-14

DAM RIGHT: Hathaway Pond fish ladder donations transferred to Beaton's Inc.

The region's largest cranberry grower found a new stream of funding through a sportsmen's organization with a symbiotic relationship to the waterways that feed the grower's bogs.

Wicked Local Rochester
Chris Reagle
Community Editor
Posted Jul. 30, 2014 @ 6:00 am

ROCHESTER – The region's largest cranberry grower found a new stream of funding through a sportsmen's organization with a symbiotic relationship to the waterways that feed the grower's bogs.
Alewives Anonymous Inc. President Arthur Benner, at the club's April 27 annual meeting, handed over $10,000 raised privately to Douglas Beaton, of East Sandwich, the state's largest cranberry grower for the purpose of maintaining a crucial conduit to local herring spawning grounds. Beaton, who owns 55 acres of bogs in Rochester, including bogs fed by the waters of the Sippican River, which flows into Hathaway Pond.
"The dam still needs some repairs and I believe some of that money will be used for those repairs," Beaton said in thanking Alewives Anonymous and others responsible for the donation. "Last night's meeting was a classic example of when grass roots America organizes, cooperates and performs to get it done. I'm looking forward to working with AA, the Rochester community, and others to eventually have river herring spawning in Hathaway and Leonard's ponds."
A lot of water has gone over the Hathaway Pond Dam since the Buzzards Bay Coalition acquired the Hampson property in 2011 in Rochester where the dam is located. At that time, their plan was to remove the dam and restore the area to its natural state as it was before the dam was built in 1804,which lowered the pond to a stream bed.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Office of Dam Safety had previously classified the dam as being in an unsafe condition and a potential threat to life and/or property downstream. To resolve the unsafe conditions, several options were proposed in the Hathaway Pond Dam Feasibility Study prepared by Inter-fluve Inc. for the Buzzards Bay Coalition, which ultimately bough the property and dam. Those options were to complete restoration of the dam, a partial restoration of the dam, and removal of the dam and earthen berm with construction of a pedestrian bridge. Cost estimates ranged from approximately $650,000 to $227,000 respectively. The Buzzards Bay Coalition's decision was to complete removal of the dam.
That proposal was met head on with resistance from property owners on the pond, agricultural interests that depended on the water resource for maintaining ground water levels, irrigation, frost control and harvesting cranberries and Alewives Anonymous Inc. that viewed Hathaway Pond as the primary spawning area for herring in the Sippican River as the recently installed ladder at Leonard's Pond had not yet proven effective for fish passage into the pond, Benner said.
Efforts were started to "Save Hathaway Pond." Rochester cranberry bog owner Greenwood "Woody" Hartley III began circulating a petition seeking signatures of the landowners, farmers, environmentalists, taxpayers and citizens of Rochester, Marion and the surrounding towns that wanted the dam at Hathaway Pond to remain and be repaired as the pond and its surrounding ecosystem provided a healthy and important environment to the citizens and wildlife of the area. Approximately 450 signatures were gathered.

State Rep. Bill Straus, D-Mattapoisett, speaking at a public meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission, pointed out both the historical significance and socio-economic issues associated with preserving the dam and pond, supporting the neighborhood, local farmers and Alewives Anonymous.
The issue of the unsafe classification of the dam was brought forward to be re-evaluated. Hartley-Rhodes Inc. contracted with GeoEnvironmental Inc. to perform a study of the Sippican River watershed. GeoEnvironmental Inc. compiled and released the Hazard Classification Assessment of Hathaway Pond Dam pointing out in its findings that the impact of the dam's failure, even during the most unusual weather events, would be minimal, Benner said. Their opinion was that Office of Dam Safety should consider downgrading the hazard/unsafe classification of Hathaway Pond dam to "low hazard." With that report and the recommendation, Hartley-Rhodes submitted an application to change Hazard classification to Office of Dam Safety.
The state Office of Dam Safety determined that it would change the classification of the dam to "low hazard" in December 2011. In February 2012, Office of Dam Safety additionally ruled that the dam property is indeed "land in agricultural use" and exempt from their rules and regulations.
Beaton's Inc. received deeded water rights to the pond along with authority to maintain and repair the dam for agricultural purposes when they purchased the Hiller cranberry property.
Negotiations between Beaton's Inc. and Buzzards Bay Coalition were initiated to reach an amicable agreement. The eventual outcome was that ownership of the dam property would be transferred to Beaton's Inc. and also, among other things, improved fish passage would be incorporated into the dam.
The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries provided a section of aluminum Alaskan steep pass fish ladder.
Beaton contracted with EA Engineering, Science, and Technology from Warwick, R.I., to design plans for the new fish ladder to be installed in one of the spillways of the dam. Other dam maintenance and improvements were also planned.
The framework and supporting structure for the ladder were fabricated at Beaton Inc.'s workshop.
Alewives Anonymous established the Hathaway Pond Dam Ladder Fund to help offset expenses of the new ladder. The AA members, the many supporters of the "Save Hathaway Pond" campaign, the environmentally minded citizens of Rochester as well as those from our surrounding communities and local business responded with a financial commitment to help the project along.
The required hearings were held and permits from the Rochester Conservation Commission were granted in early 2013. Construction was started in March of 2013. Part of the installation was completed before the anticipated herring migration started but conditions didn't allow for completion until August 2013.

During the Alewives Anonymous Inc. annual meeting, April 27, it was announced that Alewives Anonymous would transfer to Beaton's Inc., the donations collected, AA monies earmarked specifically for Sippican River improvements and additional monies totaling $10,000.
Benner said Beaton has been supportive in all things herring and has helped AA wherever possible in any of the projects that have come up.
"As President of Alewives Anonymous, Inc. and on behalf of the board of directors and the AA membership, I would like to express our gratitude and deepest appreciation to Mr. Beaton, Beaton's Inc. shop crew and everyone else they had involved in the project to install the new aluminum steep pass fish ladder at the Hathaway Pond Dam in 2013 and the many individuals and businesses that supported this project financially," Benner said.
Buzzards Bay Coalition installed and operated an electronic fish counter in the ladder during the 2014 herring migration season to monitor the fish population entering Hathaway Pond. AA installed and operated an electronic fish counter in the ladder at Leonard's Pond. The counts from both counters on the Sippican River for this year were very low. Adjustments to the water flow in the ladders were made and will serve as a guide for next year when we hope to start seeing improved results for the herring population in the Sippican River.
Alewives Anonymous Inc., The Herring Helpers, are dedicated to the preservation and increase of the alewife fishery resources in the Mattapoisett River and the Sippican River in the towns of Rochester, Marion and Mattapoisett.
"We invite you to please join and help support our efforts," Benner said.
Annual membership is $10 per person. For more information, call Art Benner at 508-763-2024 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . They can also be reached by regular postal mail at: Alewives Anonymous, Inc., P.O. Box 42, Rochester MA 02770.

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