For Immediate Release - December 14, 2012

State Environmental Officials Celebrate Restoration of Cheshire’s Thunder Brook

CHESHIRE – Friday, December 14, 2012 – Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and its Division of Ecological Restoration today joined conservationists, federal wildlife officials and local elected officials to celebrate the completion of the Thunder Brook restoration project.

The $245,000 project, which involved the removal of a hazardous dam in poor condition and the replacement of an undersized failing culvert, will greatly improve habitat conditions in the brook.

"In addition to the environmental benefits, ecological restoration projects like this also provide jobs and have a 75 percent return on investment” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan.

In advance of the harsh winter weather, contractors have put the finishing touches on the restoration of Thunder Brook, a small coldwater stream that feeds the South Branch of the Hoosic River.  

“This is another great partnership involving multiple agencies and private conservation organizations that enhances one of Berkshire County’s freshwater gems and benefits the many fish and wildlife species that inhabit Thunder Brook and the Hoosic River watershed,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin.

Surveys by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts documented a substantial wild brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) population in the brook, in addition to other native coldwater fish. Scientists from the Hoosic River Watershed Association have also documented the insect community and other freshwater animals that use the brook as habitat.

"Restoring degraded rivers and streams like Thunder Brook improves habitat for fish and wildlife, and helps communities become more resilient and less vulnerable to flood damage,” said Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “This kind of investment also uses local materials and contractors, providing benefits to the local economy.”

“The broad coalition of local and statewide stakeholders that came together to complete this project is a testament to Thunder Brook’s standing as a vital natural resource in our region,” said Sen. Benjamin B. Downing.

“I am enthusiastic that the restoration of the Thunder Brook promotes local recreation, which is an important part of not only our healthy water ecology in North Berkshire, but also the economy,” said Rep. Gailanne Cariddi.

"It is great when multiple organizations can work together to stimulate the local economy, create good jobs, and improve our environment through one important project,” said Rep. Paul Mark. “I thank the administration and all who participated for their efforts."

Restoration efforts included removal of the ten-foot tall Thunder Brook Dam by the Town Highway Department and replacement of a failing culvert downstream. The culvert was replaced by an open-bottom span, which better meets the Commonwealth’s wildlife-passage standards for stream crossings.

Project partners include the town of Cheshire, Trout Unlimited, the Hoosic River Watershed Association, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, DFG’s Division of Ecological Restoration, DFG’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, and the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership through a donation from Covanta Energy.

Massachusetts-based Stantec Consulting Services Inc. was the design engineer and SumCo Eco-Contracting was the contractor.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.