Preliminary work has begun on Walton’s Mill Dam removal in Farmington. On May 21, Maranda Nemeth, project manager with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, shows some of the improvements to be made to the park as part of the dam removal project. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser Buy this Photo

FARMINGTON — Water behind Walton’s Mill Dam is being drawn down this spring, signaling the start of a $3 million project to allow Atlantic salmon access to Temple Stream and eventually the Sandy River.

“It might be one of the only places in Maine where people can view an Atlantic salmon leaping upstream,” Maranda Nemeth, project manager with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, said. “They’re called leapers, they push themselves right out of the water.

“By removing the dam, more than 52 miles of stream will be restored back to the Sandy River,” she noted. “The Department of Marine Resources has already started recovering Atlantic salmon, knows it’s productive for brook trout and other native species.”

The one-mile stretch of Temple Stream is pretty low-lying, the impoundment is stagnant, pretty monotonous, Nemeth said. She expects several complex wetlands to emerge once the dam is removed.

Increasing the diversity of plants will lead to more diverse habitat that threatened species such as wood turtles can’t utilize now, she said.

“There certainly will be a change,” Nemeth noted. “A warm water pond will become a free-flowing cold-water stream in its restored state. It will bring in more diverse native species, open up the river. Water quality improves, invertebrates settle in. Fresh water mussels will be able to move more freely up and down the river.”


The project, a partnership with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, was approved by voters in November 2018 at no cost to the town.

In addition to the dam removal and Walton’s Mill Pond Park improvements, the project includes replacing two stream crossings along Clover Mill Road.

The impoundment will be partially drawn down to complete archeological studies and start vegetation stabilization of stream banks. The dam and associated concrete buttress, gates, and former mill foundation will be removed in a controlled sequence.

Nemeth said during a site walk May 21 that the entrance to the park will be improved to raise the parking area but not change the footprint. Four parallel parking spaces will be added along Route 43 with a walkway to the park. Twelve standard parking spaces and a handicapped space will be provided in the current parking area.

“We’ll be raising the entrance, repurposing all the boulders,” Nemeth said. “There’ll be a new entry sign and a chain gate for the town to block it off whenever they need to do that.” The sign will be a large granite boulder with letters in steel across it. The slope entering the park will be terraced with vegetation and a wooden kiosk with information added.

Fencing will be removed and replaced with landscaping to enclose and protect the area.


“We’re using all natural species, shrubs and trees,” Nemeth said. “There will be really significant landscaping going in.” Dogwood, winterberry, blue flag iris, maples and white spruce will be used with low bush blueberries planted throughout the site. A swale will collect water coming off the parking lot. Pavement will be removed and stone stairs will provide streamside access.

“The bank will be restored, the area regraded and the concrete wall removed,” Nemeth said. “We’ll be repurposing the stones from the dam for landscaping. The water wheel will be relocated, honoring the history.”

The ledge underneath the dam will not be manipulated.

The deteriorating overlook will be stabilized, Nemeth said. It’s important to the town so people can look out, she added.

Maranda Nemeth with the Atlantic Salmon Federation looks out over Temple Stream in Farmington May 21. The ledge below Walton’s Mill Dam will not be altered when the dam is removed next year. Once it’s out, people should be able to see Atlantic salmon leaping over the ledge on their way upstream. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser Buy this Photo

“There will be wooden benches for people to sit, enjoy,” Nemeth said. “There will be a second kiosk for historical information, details of what the mill made, when, and why it’s important to Farmington and the Sandy River. People will be able to look out onto the river.

“Where the area opens up again is where the pavilion will be,” she said. “It will have completely ADA accessible picnic tables with a wooden façade representative of the mill. It will be a place for folks to come for special events. The town expects to see greater use of the park with all of these added amenities.”


The open space will be repurposed for a play area featuring a log structure, willow huts and earth mounds for kids to roam through and explore.

“That will be a unique feature,” Nemeth said, “all to improve the park and make it more of a destination for Farmington to have along Temple Stream. It is the town’s only waterfront park so it’s a special spot.”

Lighted pathways beyond the overlook will be added for safety. In the large grassy area there will be a handicap bathroom, historical interpretation and observation area. The chain-link fence will be replaced with a contemporary one blending with the historical-interpretation area. The water wheel, now in the stream, will be moved to the area.

The work is expected to be completed next year.

The water wheel once used in the Walton’s Mill in Farmington will be taken out of Temple Stream and moved to the historical interpretive area as part of Walton’s Mill Pond Park renovations next year. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser Buy this Photo

“This is such an important project because Temple Stream is a tributary to the Sandy River in the Kennebec River watershed,” Nemeth said. “It’s one of the most important streams for Atlantic salmon. For those of us involved in the Kennebec River watershed and restoring Atlantic salmon, we’re very excited about it.”

In a letter of support for the project, Town Manager Richard Davis wrote, “The replacement of culverts on Clover Mill Road and Cummings Hill have provided huge benefits for fish populations and wildlife. They have also contributed to a much-improved travel way for motorists. Significantly, these projects have been completed at no cost to the town.


“The redesign of the portion of the park immediately adjacent to the dam will also make the entire site much safer and more accessible for community members,” he wrote. “The physical improvements planned for the site, plus the addition of new interpretive displays and the exhibition of mill and dam artifacts on site, will likely increase public use and recreation at the site and in the newly restored portion of Temple Stream. These improvements are also being made at no cost to the taxpayers of Farmington. Again, the town is extremely grateful for the support of the Atlantic Salmon Federation and its partners.”

A $20,000 maintenance fund for the town will allow continuing stewardship of the site, Nemeth said. The Atlantic Salmon Federation will monitor the site for five years, making sure native species return and stabilize, she noted.

“This big project is improving the river and park, preserving history more thoughtfully and thinking ahead for the future,” she said.

Project partners include the town, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Natural Areas Program and Land and Water Conservation Fund. Funding is also provided by Trout & Salmon Foundation, Fisher Foundation, Cascade Foundation, and several other private foundations.

Acadia Civil Works is the lead engineer, Wright-Pierce is doing the architectural and electrical engineering with Casco Bay Engineering providing structural design, Nemeth said.

This area of Walton’s Mill Dam Park in Farmington will have a pavilion, historical interpretative area and play space for families. The $3 million project is expected to be completed next year. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser Buy this Photo

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.