The Cascade School Supply Company is a small, family-owned business in North Adams. In 2005, the owners were facing over $250,000 in estimated costs to repair the dam adjacent to their facility in Clarksburg. The Briggsville Dam (a.k.a. Hewatt Pond Dam) was rated as a Significant Hazard in Poor condition by the MA Office of Dam Safety. The dam also blocked fish and wildlife passage, fragmenting habitat for wild eastern brook trout, the rare slimy sculpin, and the longnose sucker (a state-listed Species of Concern). Recognizing the ecological value of the North Branch of the Hoosic River, Cascade School Supplies reached out to the Hoosic River Watershed Association and the local chapter of Trout Unlimited for help. In 2006, The Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) began working with the project team to collect data and make plans for the dam removal. The project goals included (1) restoring habitat connectivity, (2) protecting area infrastructure, and (3) eliminating risks and liabilities associated with the aging dam. The dam was removed in 2010.
Benefits of Removal
Removal of the Briggsville Dam opened 30 miles of mainstem and tributary habitat. Dam removal helps fish and wildlife survive climate change by expanding the amount, quality, and diversity of habitat available. Fish and other aquatic species are now able to access coldwater refugia during the warm summer months and seek quieter streams during mainstem floods. Trout and other rare fish were found by MassWildlife biologists and important river insects were surveyed throughout the project reach.
In addition, the deteriorating dam was a liability for Cascade School Supplies who had to bear the cost of maintaining the dam and keeping trespassers away from the dam, which was dangerous. Without assistance, the repair costs would have forced Cascade to abandon the Clarksburg facility and lay off workers.
Removal of the dam also reduced flooding at Route 8. During large storms, the 15-foot-tall dam caused the river to flood out onto Route 8 resulting in costly multi-day closures of the road.
Project Costs & Funding
The total cost to remove the dam was approximately $920,000 for engineering, permitting, and construction. Approximately 95% of that cost came from state, federal, and non-profit sources.
Cascade School Supplies led the project with technical and funding assistance from Trout Unlimited, the Hoosic River Watershed Association, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. DER contributed cash and technical assistance throughout the project.