Winchester fish ladder will aid herring migration 11-16-16

Winchester fish ladder will aid herring migration

By Melissa Russell
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Work has begun on a fish ladder in downtown Winchester, and if works as designed, it will begin to remedy ecological damage stemming from the industrial age.

The fish ladder, under construction in the Center Falls dam, will aid Alewife herring as they travel from the Atlantic Ocean to spawn in Horn Pond in Woburn.

John Kilborn, a Winchester resident who has advocated for the project to town officials, said the Mystic River Watershed Association has seen spikes in fish populations in the area where fish ladders have been installed between the Upper and Lower Mystic Lakes.

Two years ago, when the dam system was opened during construction at the Jenks Center, thousands of the fish could be seen navigating the waters for the first time since the Civil War.

"These fish were in the Aberjona for thousands of years, but development blocked them," Kilborn said.

The Mystic River Watershed Association estimated at that time nearly 500,000 Blueback and Alewife herring migrated into Winchester's tributaries, doubling the number passing through Winchester in 2014, and making it further upstream than anyone could recall. Wildlife sightings, including heron that feed on the fish, were also reported, Kilborn said.

The fish ladder, when completed later this fall, will allow the fish to enjoy unimpeded passage to their breeding grounds and back again, Kilborn said.

"The hope is that the fish will use the ladder to get to Wedge Pond, travel through Horn Pond Brook and to Horn Pond," he said.

Beth MacBlane, outreach and communications director for the MRWA said the fish ladder was key in improving the herring habitat.

"We're excited about the prospect. It is an important connection to the rest of the watershed and we look forward to seeing bigger runs in the future."

The construction includes an observation area for passersby to view the migration, and a webcam trained on a resting pool that will allow students to help the MRWA count fish.

Current flood mitigation work will continue next spring, meaning although the ladder will be complete, it will not be operable until that construction is completed, Kilborn said.

Kilborn said the $500,000 project is being funded by parties involved in clean up efforts of the Industri-Plex Superfund site in Woburn. That site, according to the website of the Environmental Protection Agency, was contaminated by chemicals and byproducts associated with various industries including animal tanning from 1853 to 1969.

From Forum

Herring Public Forum Exemption to Wetland Act for herring protection
DaveC > 25-July-2016

Herring Run Counts 2015 Herring Counts
DaveC > 25-July-2016

Herring Management Town Brook alewives get a free ride to Billington Sea
KnightofNi > 29-April-2016

Herring Public Forum River Herring Migration Series at WHOI
KnightofNi > 30-April-2015

Eels Fines Increased for Herring Poaching
Jones River > 15-April-2015

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