Monatiquot River restoration project flows past another hurdle 2-24-17

Monatiquot River restoration project flows past another hurdle
Wicked Local Braintree
Posted Feb 24, 2017 at 5:35 PM

The Monatiquot River is one step closer to being restored as a herring run, according to the Fore River Watershed Association, which announced the completion of a feasibility study regarding the removal of Armstrong Dam.

By Bradford Randall
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The Monatiquot River is one step closer to being restored as a herring run, according to the Fore River Watershed Association, which announced the completion of a feasibility study regarding the removal of Armstrong Dam.

The watershed association said the study, which was funded by grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, demonstrated that the dam's removal is feasible because of gathered information that river-watchers hope will lead to permits being issued.

A 2009 study of the entire Fore River Watershed identified the 12-foot-high Armstrong Dam as the "major obstacle for fish passage" on the Monatiquot River that has prevented alewives from reaching their native spawning habitat.

According to the Fore River Watershed Asociation, the smaller Ames Pond Dam was also involved in the most recent feasibility study and has been targeted for removal.

The river restoration project has also obtained a provisional status on a priority project list with the Division of Ecological Restoration.

Voices from the association, like Carl Pawlowski, have previously said the removal of Armstrong Dam could lead to the Monatiquot River becoming the largest herring run in Massachusetts.

Pawlowski, an environmental engineer with Mass. Water Resources Authority, said the number of river herring that eventually run up the Monatiquot River could be triple the numbers in Weymouth's herring run once the dam is removed.

The Weymouth Herring Run, which supports over half a million of the aquatic species each year, is now considered the Bay State's largest and begins when the water begins to warm with spring temperatures.

For some, however, those hopes have been hampered by the ongoing debate over Spectra Energy's plan to build a compressor station in North Weymouth along the banks of the Fore River.

Jodi Purdy, also of the Fore River Watershed Association, said the compressor station may repel the alewife environmentalists hope for alewives to return to Braintree in large numbers by scaring them from entering the Fore River and, eventually, the Monatiquot.

"The compressor station will be very loud, it will cause vibrations," Purdy said to The Forum in December. "That is something that can deter fish from passing by.'

River herring, or alewives, once migrated from the ocean to Great Pond en masse every spring to mate and lay eggs before returning to the sea a few months later, according to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

The alewives begin their journey northward from the mid-Atlantic off the Carolina coast in late March through mid-May.

Local leaders praised the recent completion of the feasibility study of the dam, owned by Messina Enterprises.

"Restoring the river to its natural state shows our commitment to beautify Braintree and sensitize everyone to the importance in supporting commercial and recreational fisheries," Mayor Joseph Sullivan said.

State Sen. Walter Timilty, D-Milton, said restoration of river herring to Great Pond will have substantial ecological and economic benefits, and would enhance the quality of life in Braintree.

Timilty's colleague, state Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy, also spoke highly of the efforts to restore the Monatiquot.

"This has been a great collaboration between individual citizens, community groups, private sector leaders, and town officials to help restore our natural resources," Keenan said. I'm happy to be involved and look forward to continued progress on this project."

The next step, according to the watershed association, will be seeking grant funding for design and permitting to remove the dam with the town, Messina, and the Division of Marine Fisheries.

Follow Bradford Randall on Twitter @randalljourno.

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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