PHILLIPS — The Nature Conservancy has awarded the town a $20,000 grant to help offset an estimated $260,000 to replace a culvert in Atlantic salmon spawning habitat.

Town Manager Elaine Hubbard said Wednesday at a selectmen’s meeting that the Nature Conservancy has worked with town officials to ensure the endangered habitat along Reeds Mill Road and Toothaker Pond would remain accessible to salmon.

“They realize small towns like ours don’t have the money for these kinds of projects,” Hubbard said. “They will provide us with $18,000 now, and give us the remaining $2,000 when the project is finished.”

Culverts where roads cross streams often are worn out or too small, said Jeremy Bell, aquatic habitat manager for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. Those culverts “can serve as barriers for fish, or even cause flooding problems during heavy storms.”

Hundreds of streams across Maine face similar problems, Bell said in a news release. Phillips was selected for this grant because the town’s proposed project has tremendous potential to improve important habitat, according to the release.

Warm Brook is a tributary of the Sandy River, which has been designated as a critical habitat area for federally protected Atlantic salmon. But the project, which will install a wide crossing that has natural riverbed at the bottom, will also benefit everything from freshwater mussels to brook trout, according to the release.

In other business Wednesday night:

* Nancy Perlson, a representative of the High Peaks Alliance, addressed selectmen for support of a proposed bridge replacement over nearby Perham Stream.

Local snowmobilers and ATV riders have been using the bridge, although the concrete supports have deteriorated. The bridge is resting on boulders and will have to be closed if it is not replaced. The bridge connects trails and riders in western Maine to other parts of the state.

Perlson noted that the trail system benefited this part of the state by drawing visitors and seasonal residents. She said the Maine Recreational Trails Program could provide some of the money to begin reconstruction. She has visited the area towns and municipal officials to get a letter of support and hopes to hear that the alliance is a recipient of some of the grant money early next year.

Each grant application is assigned points based on the expressed level of community interest, she said. The alliance has received some of that assistance from ARC Welding in Kingfield, including design and engineering. Local clubs will offer in-kind support to help build the new bridge. Maine participates in the Recreational Trails Program under the Federal Highway Administration. Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands is the state agency that administers the program.

* Road Commissioner Ward Bredeau told the board that construction on Bragg Corner will continue until Dec. 5. Although he has erected barricades and posted signs, drivers continue to try to navigate that section. Posted detours will guide vehicles into town or onto other roads until then. Cement culvert sections have to be lifted into place by a crane and will have bases that go under the stream bed. The telephone and electrical utility poles have been moved.

* The town will share an animal control officer. Strong’s officer, Ann Dunne, agreed to also serve Avon and Phillips, after Josh Bachelder resigned. The town of Strong recently paid for Dunne’s recertification training and some new equipment. Selectmen from the three towns will meet to decide ways to share costs equally and options for finding an alternate animal control officer if Dunne should decide in the future that she can’t serve all three towns.

* Selectmen opened bids and selected the highest bid for several pieces of town equipment, including a Mack firetruck, rock rake, several plows and other equipment selectmen determined would cost more money to repair than to replace.


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