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River Run - A Story of Dam Removal in Massachusetts

A six part film series that highlights the efforts by DER and our many partners to advance dam removal projects in the Commonwealth.

DER is excited to present this six part film series entitled River Run – A Story of Dam Removal in Massachusetts. This series was created in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Science Media Collaborative. Each short video highlights the efforts of DER and partners to advance river restoration projects across the Commonwealth. These films highlight the benefits, challenges, and local perspectives of dam removal across Massachusetts. The films below follow 8 dam removal projects and capture the removal of 5 dams.

Table of Contents

Restoring the Nissitisit River, Pepperell

In 2015, DER, the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Trout Unlimited removed the Millie Turner Dam on the Nissitissit River in Pepperell. Removal of the dilapidated dam reconnected 40 upstream river miles on a beautiful trout stream in northeastern Massachusetts. (Film length: 4:50) 

Restoring Rattlesnake Brook, Freetown

DER, the City of Fall River, The Nature Conservancy, and other partners removed the Bleachery Dam (a.k.a Rattlesnake Brook Dam) in Freetown in 2016. Removal of the dam reconnected seven miles of the Rattlesnake Brook to the Taunton River. Removal also opened the brook to migration of trout from Assonet Bay upstream to the coldwater habitat in the upper watershed. Dam removal eliminates a flood damage threat to Narrows Road, located just downstream from the dam. (Film length: 5:15) 

Restoring the Shawsheen River, Andover

In 2017, DER and partners removed two dams on the Shawsheen River in the Town of Andover - the Balmoral and Marland Place Dams. Removing these dams opened up five miles of river to migratory fish and brought together the Town, Atria Senior Living, NOAA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Massachusetts Environmental Trust, American Rivers, and the Center for Ecosystem Restoration. (Film length: 4:58)

Restoring the Cotley River, Taunton

The Barstowe’s Pond Dam in Taunton was removed in 2018. Removing the dam reconnected the Cotley River to the Taunton River and Narragansett Bay and restored the river for use by river herring, American eel, and other native river fish. The project was led by the non-profit Taunton Development Corporation, with assistance from DER, The Nature Conservancy, NOAA and Save the Bay. (Film length: 4:07)

Restoring the West Branch of the Housatonic River, Pittsfield

The Tel-Electric Dam (a.k.a. Mill Street Dam) on the West Branch of the Housatonic River in Pittsfield is an obsolete, hazardous dam. Removing it will strengthen community resilience to the impacts of climate change, restore natural river processes, improve the ecological health of the river, and help to revitalize the West Side neighborhood. DER has been working with the City of Pittsfield, the private dam owner, and other partners to remove this dam. Removal is underway and is expected to be complete by early 2020. (Film length: 4:52)

Restoring the Ipswich River, Ipswich & Middleton

The Ipswich Mills Dam is the first dam on the Ipswich River located at the head of tide. Removal of the dam would reconnect over 49 miles of river and improve water quality in the upstream reach. Removing the South Middleton Dam would reconnect 57 miles of upper watershed mainstem and tributaries with the lower Ipswich River. DER is working with the Ipswich River Watershed Association, Bostik and other partners. (Film length: 5:37)

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