This project will make the herring happy in East Bridgewater 10-16-17

This project will make the herring happy in East Bridgewater

By Shannon Gallagher
The Enterprise

Posted Oct 16, 2017 at 7:21 PM
Updated Oct 18, 2017 at 12:04 PM

EAST BRIDGEWATER – The herring will soon run free through East Bridgewater, thanks to a collaborative dam removal project.

Representatives from state, federal, local and environmental advocacy organizations gathered at the site of the Carver Cotton Gin dam in East Bridgewater on Monday as plans to remove the historic dam got underway.

Removing the dam will benefit local migratory fish species and improve environmental sustainability, as well as enhance public safety, officials said.

For decades, the 150-year-old dam has prevented herring from continuing upstream to reproduce each year, threatening the herring population upstream of the dam.

Herring play a major ecological role as an important food source for many fish and wildlife, according to Bill Bennett of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, one of the organizations partnering on the project.

"This is an obsolete damn that's been failing over the years," said Kris Houle of the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration. "With this dam removal, river herring and other species will be able to get all the way from the Atlantic Ocean all the way up into Robin's Pond."

The project will restore about 13 miles of river access and 652 acres of spawning habitat to the herring, officials said.

Additionally, removing the dam will solve public safety concerns for the local community.

The deteriorating dam runs the risk of failing, which would destabilize the Route 106 bridge immediately upstream. A Mass DER evaluation categorized the dam as a significant public hazard.

"If this dam were to fail, it'd have the potential to cause the loss of life and it's in an unsafe condition," Houle said.

On Monday, contractors worked to reinforce the bridge to prepare for the removal of the dam. Officials expect the damn removal process will begin next week.

"This project hits that sweet spot where we're restoring the river but also enhancing public safety for the community," Bennett said. "It's not only restoring the environment but it's also addressing concerns that if this dam fails, this bridge could collapse at some point."

It's important, now more than ever, that organizations take steps to guard against bridge collapses and other hazards brought on by severe weather, Sara Burns of the Nature Conservancy said.

"We're seeing more extreme weather events," said Burns. "With more water, failure becomes. By removing the dam, we're taking away that risk. We're increasing resiliency to climate change and extreme storms."

The project is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, The Nature Conservancy, the Town of East Bridgewater, NOAA Restoration Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Plymouth County League of Sportsmen.

Shannon Gallagher may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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