Red Brook Habitat Restoration Continues With Dam Removal
Phase two underway for overall restoration of coldwater stream - home to one of the last native sea-run brook trout populations in Massachusetts
Red Brook, a five mile long coldwater stream that flows from White Island Pond to Buttermilk Bay - along the Wareham and Plymouth town line - supports a variety of fish species including eel, river herring and one of the last remaining native sea-run brook trout populations in Massachusetts. Sea run trout are fish that live in fresh water from spring through fall, and then spawn before wintering in salt water near the mouths of rivers.
"Dam removal provides a unique opportunity to help sustain and improve recreational and commercial fisheries," said Ian Bowles, Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. "Fish like river herring are in decline and improving access to spawning habitat helps ensure that fish will keep returning to our Commonwealth's rivers and streams each spring."
The removal of the New Way dam is phase two of a three-phase restoration of Red Brook, which is being supported by technical services and funds from the Riverways Program, American Rivers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Phase one took place in 2006 and involved the removal of Robbins Dike. Phase three involves the removal of two other water control structures and hundreds of yards of wetland fill. That phase is slated for the summer of 2009.
"The impact of these structures has been to fragment the adjoining floodplain and river into discrete units that impair fish passage and natural stream function," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "This long term partnership between state and federal environmental agencies, national and local environmental non-profits and the private sector will result in the ecological restoration of this important habitat, improving prospects for native fish and recreation in the region."
Red Brook flows through former cranberry bogs that are now part of the Red Brook Reserve, a 638 acre conservation area that includes the 210 acre Theodore Lyman Reserve, managed by The Trustees of Reservations, and the 428 acre Red Brook Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by DFG's Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Within the Lyman Reserve are multiple water control structures or small dams that are remnants of historic cranberry operations that have been abandoned since the middle of the last century.
The Trustees of Reservations have helped lead the restoration of the Brook in conjunction with Trout Unlimited and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The Trustees and Trout Unlimited have a special partnership at Red Brook, as the Reserve was given to TTOR by the Lyman family with the understanding that the brook would be restored for benefit of trout and other native species.
"Trout Unlimited has been the backbone and the spirit behind the restoration initiative, and the Trustees have been working hard to realize a vision that the Lyman family set forth," said Mike Labossiere, Superintendent of the Trustees of the Reservations.
"This is an example of a great working relationship that has been facilitated by the state's Riverways Program," echoed Warren Winders, Red Brook Director, Massachusetts-Rhode Island Trout Unlimited Chapter.
The work taking place this week involves removal of the New Way Dam and associated levees and berms and also includes the addition of trees and root wads to the stream for enhanced habitat structure. Construction services have been donated in part by AD Makepeace and the engineering was completed by Interfluve, a nationally recognized river restoration firm.
From Route 25, get off at exit 1 (to Buzzards Bay, Bourne) just north of the Bourne Bridge on the Cape Cod Canal. Bear right off ramp and take an immediate right onto Head of the Bay Road. Follow for approximately three miles around the eastern and northern shores of Buttermilk Bay. Parking lot entrance is about 250 feet beyond Packard Street on right.