Sunday River dam will be dismantled
A remnant log driving dam on the mainstem of the Sunday River that blocks brook trout movement upriver to a network of headwater streams is scheduled to be dismantled Sept. 5 – 6.
This removal project is a collaborative effort between the Androscoggin River Watershed Council (ARWC), Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, and SHARE. It is funded by a grant from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, which is a private-public partnership dedicated to improving and enhancing brook trout habitat throughout the eastern United States. The grant is administered by the Androscoggin Valley Soil & Water Conservation District in Lewiston.
Long ago, log driving dams were built on many rivers and tributary streams in western Maine to flush logs down from the mountains. Over time, most of these dams have deteriorated to the point they no longer impede fish passage. Others washed away completely.
But the base structure of this old log driving dam on the Sunday River has remained remarkably intact. It creates a three to four foot drop that spans the width of the river. Depending on water level, it can block brook trout movement.
The site was identified as a priority for removal during a 2011 barrier assessment in the Sunday River and Bear River Watersheds that was conducted by ARWC. The assessment looked at barriers to fish movement such as crushed and hanging (“perched”) culverts, dams, road crossings and bridges. This site stood out because it blocks access for trout to an estimated four miles of the Sunday River’s headwater streams, as well as to the mainstem of the Sunday River above Riley Township. All of these waters have the potential to provide excellent brook trout habitat. As the impacts of global warming worsen, access to cooler waters in high elevation streams will provide important refuge from hot summer weather for brook trout.
Project partners plan to use a grip hoist Sept. 5 – 6 to dismantle the dam, weather permitting. The dam is on the Mahoosuc Unit Public Reserve, which is managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.