- Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Marion Larson, MassWildlife Information & Education Chief
Sturbridge — A multi-dam removal and habitat restoration project is underway at Hamant Brook in Sturbridge, MA. Hamant Brook is a coldwater stream running through 880 acres of protected municipal conservation land named the Leadmine Conservation Area. To restore ¾ of a mile of coldwater stream, three consecutive dams will be removed on Hamant Brook: the Upper and Middle Pond Dams, owned by the Town of Sturbridge, and the Lower Dam, owned by Old Sturbridge Village. The dam removals will eliminate a public safety hazard, improve water quality, reduce flooding risks, and restore habitat for native trout, endangered turtles, and other wildlife. Additionally, the project will improve parking and public access to a popular town conservation area with the installation of educational and trail kiosks. Public access to this site is prohibited while construction is underway.
“Investments in projects like this not only enhances ecological and safety values but also recreational value,” said Ron Amidon, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game Commissioner. “Restoring the coldwater habitat here will furnish an exceptional opportunity for anglers to catch native brook trout.”
"This habitat restoration project enhances ongoing habitat management efforts by MassWildlife and other conservation-minded public and private landowners," said Jack Buckley, MassWildlife Director. "It also complements the state's collaborative land protection efforts in the Sturbridge area."
In 2006, MassWildlife obtained a Conservation Restriction from the Town of Sturbridge on the Leadmine Mountain Conservation Area. This effort nearly doubled the size of protected open space adjacent to MassWildlife’s own Leadmine Wildlife Management Area. This land conservation collaborative contributed nearly 2,000 acres of protected land open to the public in the southern part of Sturbridge.
The Hamant Brook Project also affords opportunities for scientists to document the effects of dam removal on a coldwater stream. Following the completion of the project, MassWildlife fisheries biologists will conduct surveys on a periodic basis to monitor the fish communities living in this important habitat over time. “These dam removals will improve water quality within Hamant Brook, reduce stream temperatures and improve the resiliency of the stream to the impacts of climate change,” said Todd Richards, MassWildlife Assistant Director of Fisheries. “The broader goal of the work is to improve water quality and habitat in the Quinebaug River.”
“The Hamant Brook restoration project is a success thanks to the great efforts of many partners. With the removal of these three dams, we not only permanently reconnect the stream habitat, but also multiply the public land conservation efforts and restore the former impoundments to improve water quality and restore coldwater habitat within a protected conservation area,” said Amy Singler, Project Manager at American Rivers.
Funding for the Hamant Brook Restoration Project is provided by Millennium Power and many other project partners, including the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture.