Connecticut River tributaries flowing free thanks to removal of Old Dams

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After dam removal in Norwich. Photo provided.

REGION – The Connecticut River Conservancy continued its dam removal and river restoration work in 2018, removing three old dams in Vermont that no longer served a useful purpose. These removal projects opened 74 miles of stream to fish passage, reduced flood elevation levels, and will help improve water quality. CRC has one more removal scheduled this month in New Hampshire.

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Norwich Reservoir Dam before. Photo provided.

CRC worked with the Norwich Fire District to remove the old Norwich Reservoir dam on Charles Brown Brook in Norwich, Vt. The concrete dam was built in 1928 as a water source but became obsolete in 1981. The project – which included removing the concrete dam, 758 truckloads of accumulated sediment, and in-stream habitat reconstruction – was funded by the Vermont Ecosystem Restoration Grant, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Vermont Fish & Wildlife, Patagonia, Trout Unlimited, American Rivers, and the Norwich Conservation Commission. With the dam gone, native Brook trout and other aquatic wildlife can freely move throughout the entire river system from the Connecticut River to the headwaters – a total of 43 miles. CRC and project partners will return to Norwich in spring 2018 to plant native trees and shrubs along the newly shaped riverbank to add additional wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion.

CRC also helped the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission remove a dam on Mill Brook in West Windsor, Vt. Removing the dam opened 26 miles of habitat to fish, improved water quality, and reduced water temperatures. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and a Vermont Ecosystem Restoration Grant helped fund this removal, and CRC hired the Intervale Conservation Nursery of Burlington, Vt. to help restore the site with native tree and shrub plantings post-removal.

In total, CRC contracted with nine different local companies or organizations from Vermont and New Hampshire to help complete the projects. CRC’s dam removal and river restoration work will continue through 2018 with another privately owned dam on Clark Brook in Haverhill, N.H. slated to get underway this month.

Since 2014, CRC has removed eight dams in the Connecticut River watershed of New Hampshire and Vermont, to improve fish passage, wildlife habitat, water quality, sediment transport, flood resiliency, and safety. CRC is a membership based nonprofit working to protect the watershed of the Connecticut River from source to sea through on-the-ground projects, public education, and advocacy. To learn more or to support your rivers, visit www.ctriver.org.

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