Fish passage study approved for Walton’s Mill Dam in Farmington

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FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday authorized a feasibility study on fish passage options at Walton’s Mill Pond Dam.

Selectmen met with John Burrows, director of New Programs of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, on Tuesday. The Atlantic Salmon Federation will provide funding for the study, he said.

The study is expected to provide options for the dam and town park, including feasibility and costs for dam removal and estimates for a fish ladder, as well as “landscape architecture for a riverfront park concept design that enhances public access, causes low impact on recreation and provides for an historic-educational perspective,” according to a draft outline from Burrows.

The federation will contract with Wright-Pierce engineers for the technical field work at the dam. He expects this will begin in May. A final report could be ready in 12 to 15 months.

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Burrows wants to work with the community and hold regular informational meetings to provide updates and gather public ideas on what residents would like to see happen at the dam, including hiking trails, a gazebo or bridge, he said. 

When the board discussed the dam’s future in March 2016, Town Manager Richard Davis said the dam, which dates to 1820, poses an obstacle to upstream migration of salmon.

The town is likely going to be required to do one of two things: install a fish ladder or remove the dam, Davis said at the time.

Habitats for Atlantic salmon and brook trout are doing well above the dam, Burrows said. Salmon eggs placed in Temple Stream have contributed to promising results for the Atlantic salmon restoration project in the Sandy River due to the water’s cool temperatures, as well as a lack of predators to feed on the eggs. The organization looks at providing the feasibility study as a long-term investment for restoring the salmon.

Atlantic salmon were listed as endangered in 2000.

Temple Stream was noted as a critical habitat for the salmon in 2009, Julia Crocker, an endangered species coordinator for NOAA wrote in a letter to the town last year expressing concerns about the dam.

The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would like to see the town do something, Burrows said.  

Some funding for a solution may be available depending on the option chosen by the town, he said.

abryant@sunmediagroup.net

Options for Walton’s Mill Pond Dam in Farmington will be considered in a feasiblity study undertaken by the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Options for Walton’s Mill Pond Dam in Farmington will be considered in a feasiblity study undertaken by the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

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