For Immediate Release - November 20, 2013

Patrick Administration Announces Dam Removal Underway in Plymouth

PLYMOUTH – November 20, 2013 – The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is working with the Town of Plymouth and other partners to dismantle the Off Billington Street Dam on Town Brook in Plymouth. Taking advantage of the low flows from a dry autumn, contractors have made significant progress toward removing the hazardous dam to improve habitat conditions in the brook.

"Ecological restoration projects like this one deliver both economic and environmental benefits to the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan. “Creating jobs while protecting Massachusetts’ natural resources and habitats is a win-win situation.”

“The removal of this dam marks another major milestone in the progress towards the restoration of healthy fish and wildlife habitats within the Town Brook watershed, which holds an important place in Plymouth’s environment and history,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin.

Restoration activities, overseen by DFG’s Division of Ecological Restoration in partnership with the town of Plymouth, include removing the dam and replacing it with a new bridge that meets the Commonwealth's standards for fish and wildlife passage.  Water and sewer lines will be improved across the site and native wetland plants will be installed next spring.
 
Town Brook was the source of fresh water for the Pilgrims when they settled at Plymouth Harbor in 1620. Despite many decades of damming and pollution, surveys by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries have found that Town Brook supports a strong run of river herring. The fish swim upriver each spring to their ancestral spawning grounds in the Billington Sea. Removal of the Off Billington Street Dam will greatly increase the number of fish reaching this body of water.

Project partners include the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), NOAA Restoration Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and American Rivers. Funding assistance was also provided by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership.

“The Plymouth Town Brook Project represents Plymouth’s commitment to protecting the environment and will yield many benefits for the area, including the restoration of the stream channels as well as the local habitat,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “I’d like to congratulate the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Plymouth and Director of Natural Resources David Gould on their continued commitment to projects such as this which will greatly improve the local environment, protect our resources, and contribute to the overall health of the Plymouth community.”

"The Town of Plymouth is excited about the removal of the Off Billington Street Dam and the continuing restoration of historic Town Brook,” said Plymouth Town Manager Mellissa Arrighi. “This project benefits not only the brook, but also its fisheries and our historic harbor.  We look forward to future restoration work in anticipation of 2020 and the 400th anniversary of the Town of Plymouth."

"Restoring access to spawning grounds and habitat for depleted species like alewife and blueback herring and resident fish and birds has many ecological, cultural and economic benefits,” said John Bullard, Northeast Region Regional Administrator at NOAA Fisheries. “Removing yet another barrier to habitat on Town Brook is progress.  Ultimately, we'd like to see the numbers of fish using this river grow from the current estimate of 150,000 fish annually to historic numbers of 500,000 or more fish."
  
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to be part of the town-led effort to restore the health of Town Brook," said USFWS Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber. "Removal of the Off-Billington Street Dam continues long-term partnership efforts to restore both fish passage and in-stream habitat conditions through the removal of several dams in the watershed."

“Dam removal and restoration projects offer many benefits and require intense effort by many partners to succeed,” said State Representative Tom Calter. “I applaud the collaboration of federal, state, local and private agencies, as well as the many individuals involved in making this project a success.”

“I would like to congratulate David Gould, the Town of Plymouth and DFG for all of the efforts that they have made to restore this brook to its natural state,” said State Representative Vinny deMacedo.

The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) is to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment.  The Division was created in 2009 with the merger of the Riverways and Wetland Restoration Programs.

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.