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Tack Factory Dam Removal & Third Herring Brook Restoration

Removal of the Tack Factory Dam opened over 5 miles of mainstem and tributary habitat
Three images showing before, during and after dam removal.
Left to Right: Dam before removal; dam at the start of removal; and the restored reach of Third Herring Brook after dam removal.

Third Herring Brook forms much of the border between the towns of Hanover and Norwell as it flows from Jacob’s Pond to join with the North River. Just upstream from where the Brook meets the North River, fish and wildlife passage was blocked by the Tack Factory Dam. Originally built to power a manufacturing plant, the dam had fallen into disrepair and was a maintenance burden and liability to its owner, the non-profit Cardinal Cushing Centers. With no fish ladder, river herring, wild brook trout, and other species could not pass. The dam was listed in poor condition by the MA Office of Dam Safety. Having heard about a recent dam removal upstream of the site, the Cardinal Cushing Centers reached out to the North and South Rivers Watershed Association for help. In 2012, The Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) accepted the project into the Priority Projects program. The project goals included (1) restoring habitat connectivity and (2) eliminating the risks and liabilities associated with the aging dam.

Benefits of Removal

Dam removal helps fish and wildlife survive climate change by expanding the amount, quality, and diversity of habitat available. Removal of the Tack Factory Dam in 2017 opened over 5 miles of mainstem and tributary habitat. Trout, river herring, American eel, and other native species were found by MassWildlife biologists throughout the Third Herring Brook system.

In addition, the aging dam was a concern for its owner, the Cardinal Cushing Centers.  With very little funding available for dam maintenance and limiting trespassing, the non-profit was at risk for liability from an unforeseen emergency.

Project Costs & Funding

The total cost to remove the dam was approximately $382,000 for engineering, permitting, and construction. Approximately 95% of that cost came from state, federal, and non-profit sources to support restoration of Third Herring Brook.

Project Partners

The Cardinal Cushing Centers led the project with technical and funding assistance from the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, the Conservation Law Foundation, the NOAA Restoration Center, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. DER contributed cash and technical assistance throughout the project.

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