|South County's Becker Pond Dam Makes Priority Project List|
|04:22PM / Thursday, December 06, 2018|
|The Becker Pond Dam is 95 feet long. Its removal is intended to aid the cold water habitat for trout in the area and create a safer crossing for hikers. |
MOUNT WASHINGTON, Mass. — Restoration of a mile of Schenob Brook and the removal of the Becker Pond Dam have been named as priority projects for the state.
The Baker-Polito administration made the designation on Thursday for Schenob Brook/Becker Pond Dam Removal Project along with 11 other river and wetland restoration projects across the commonwealth.
As priority projects through the Department of Fish and Game's Division of Ecological Restoration, they are now eligible for technical services, including data collection, engineering, design work, permitting, project management and grants.
"Ecological restoration is an important tool for local stakeholders working to protect and preserve rivers and wetlands across the commonwealth," said Gov. Charlie Baker. "In addition to the assistance provided at the local level, the Priority Project Program assists the state in ensuring that environmental assets are able to adapt to the impacts of climate change."
The new priorities include dam removals, culvert replacements, urban river revitalization, salt marsh restoration, and streamflow restoration. Each project is designed to restore healthy habitats while also helping communities prevent storm damage, address aging infrastructure, and improve outdoor recreation.
"As the representative from the 4th Berkshires, I'm thrilled to hear that the Schenob Brook Restoration and Becker Pond Dam Removal in the town of Mount Washington in my district has been designated a DFG priority project, making it eligible for technical services as well as fundraising help from the Division of Ecological Research," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, House Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. "I'm grateful to the Baker-Polito administration for emphasizing our need to restore healthy habitats while helping communities prevent storm damage and maintain their infrastructure."
Once completed, the projects are expected to provide significant social, environmental and economic benefits to the Commonwealth and local communities. Currently, more than 45 active ecological restoration projects throughout the state are designated as "Priority Projects."
The Schenob Brook restoration project, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, includes removing the dam at Becker Pond. The pond water eventually flows into Schenob Brook, a tributary of the Housatonic River. As a result, wild Eastern brook trout and other species threatened by the effects of climate change will benefit. The project will also remove a public safety hazard in an area where a trail is being created for public use.
The half-acre pond and dam are part of the 1,643-acre Mount Plaintain Preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy and near Mount Washington State Forest. The preserve is used for hunting, fishing, hiking and recreation.
The dam is a 95-foot-long earthen embankment and concrete core wall with a concrete spillway and apron. It is part of the Schenob Brook Area of Critical Environmental Concern that is home to more than 200 rare species.
The project is at 30 percent design and is expected to begin the permitting process with removal anticipated in the fall of 2019, dependent upon funding.
The cost of removing the dam is estimated at $99,640, of which National Fish Habitat Partnerships and Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture have been requested to provide half.
Also on the list is the restoration of Stony Brook flow in Littleton; Great Marsh Restoration Project in Newbury, Essex, and Ipswich; Osgood Brook Restoration and Bowen's Pond Dam Removal in Wendell; Sucker Brook Restoration in Pepperell; Ware River Restoration/Wheelwright Dam Removal in Hardwick; Traphole Brook Restoration in Norwood and Walpole; Upper Child's River Restoration Project in Falmouth; Mill Brook Bogs Restoration in Freetown; Mattapoisett Bogs Restoration in Mattapoisett.
Provisional projects are the Stewart Bog Restoration in Rochester and Abbey Brook Revitalization in Chicopee.
"I'm looking forward to seeing improved trout habitat at this site once the Becker Pond Dam is fully removed," said state Sen. Adam G. Hinds. "This partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the Commonwealth and Mount Washington will help us be better stewards of our precious natural resources in the Berkshires."