A stream crossing and dam inventory to assess fish passage barriers in the Little Androscoggin River watershed has been completed. The work was partially funded by grants from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and Corporate Wetland Restoration Partnership. Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund is funded by proceeds from a dedicated lottery ticket (currently “Moose Money”) that provides grant monies to wildlife and conservation projects in Maine. The Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership is a public-private partnership between the federal government, state governments and private corporations to restore wetlands and other aquatic habitats. All organizations are equal opportunity employers and program providers.
The watershed is located within the towns of Auburn, Minot, Poland, Mechanic Falls, Oxford, Otisfield, Norway, South Paris, Hebron, West Paris, Greenwood and Woodstock. The goal was to identify barriers that prevent sea-run and freshwater fish, such as alewives, Atlantic salmon and Eastern brook trout from reaching upstream resting, feeding and spawning habitat.
Volunteers from the Sebago and Mollyocket chapters of Trout Unlimited and independents assisted Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District and Androscoggin River Watershed Council team leaders, surveying approximately 339 stream crossing sites. Ninety-three potential barriers were identified which could include undersized culverts, partially blocked culverts, natural falls and others. One hundred fourteen barriers were identified. Barriers block fish passage and can be culverts set above the stream bed, dams, blocked culverts etc.
The sites have been mapped and information will be sent to watershed towns to help with their planning process. If a site is on private property, the landowner may contact the Conservation District for their area to request information. Collecting this information will help the state, towns and private landowners determine which crossings or dams should be modified or replaced to improve access for fish and wildlife, accommodate larger stream flows associated with more extreme precipitation events and reduce long-term roadway maintenance costs.
This was and is a non-regulatory effort and information gathered will not be used for enforcement. Some high priority sites could be eligible for technical or financial assistance through public and private partnerships.