North Branch of the Hoosic River Restoration through Dam Removal

Project Description

American Rivers and a diversity of committed partners seek to restore multiple aquatic species, including two state listed species in the North Branch of the Hoosic River's headwaters through removal of the Briggsville Dam in Clarksburg, Massachusetts. The project directly supports the state's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.

Project Map

Publicly Accessible: Yes
County: Berkshire County, MA

Project Sites

  • Briggsville Dam

Goals and Targets

Primary Motivations:

  • Public Benefit
  • Conservation Mission

Primary Goals:

  • Complete dam removal in a timely manner.
    Progress: We are on schedule to construct the Briggsville Dam removal in late summer 2009. Our engineering consultant, Fuss & O’Neill, is currently completing final design plans based on extensive review by the project partners. We have begun the permitting process based on their preliminary design plans for a number of required permits, including the MA Environmental Policy Act review, MA Endangered Species Act review, and MA Chapter 91 Public Waterfront Act review. Once the final design is completed, we will submit the remaining permit applications for the MA Wetlands Protection Act, Dam Safety permit, and federal Army Corps permit.
  • Provide education and outreach throughout the project.
    Progress: The project has continued to receive positive press. In addition, we are planning a final public hearing on the project this Spring, once the final design is completed.
  • Protect surrounding infrastructure.
    Progress: Because of concerns about stability of an upstream bridge, we have been deliberate in our design process. In January 2009, we completed a peer review assessment of our engineer’s bridge stabilization measures and have agreed upon an effective bridge protection approach as a result of that process. The dam removal itself is already designed, and completing a final design for the bridge protection is the final component of the overall design.
  • Restore habitat for species of concern.
    Progress: Our final engineering design plan provides ecosystem-based habitat for species of concern in the North Branch of the Hoosic River: longnose sucker, Eastern brook trout, slimy sculpin, and ocellated darner. Our pre-monitoring fish survey identified a range of coldwater species in the surrounding river, including significant numbers of the state-listed longnose sucker, which will benefit by restoring the free-flowing river and natural streambed substrate.
  • Create a regional precedent for dam removal.
    Progress: Along with establishing a big picture precedent for dam removals helping state-listed species, the project is also establishing a precedent for appropriate techniques for infrastructure protection. Our final bridge protection approach will fully protect the bridge while also allowing for habitat improvements. Our engineer’s initial plan was to put a wall under the stream directly downstream of the bridge to prevent streambed changes from affecting the bridge abutments. However, that wall could have become a new fish passage barrier over time. Our new approach, that we hope will be precedent-setting, is to focus the bridge protection measures on the bridge itself, rather than on the streambed.

Consistent With Plans:

  • State Wildlife Action Plan

Targeted Habitats:

  • Aquatic
    • Rivers and Streams
  • Human Habitats
    • Urban and Residential
      • Rural Residential (Low Intensity Developed)

Targeted Species:

No targeted species were identified for this project.

Conservation Actions

Action Status Start Year End Year
Improve fish passage In Progress 2007 2009
Improve in-stream fish habitat In Progress 2007 2009

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored? Yes

Monitoring Activities
The project is being monitored through pre and post fish species surveys.

Quick Facts

Owning Organization

Wildlife Conservation Society

Managing Organization

American Rivers
(Non-Governmental Organization)

Contact Information

Brian Graber (Associate Director, River Restoration Program)
American Rivers
Website

General Information

Project #: 1754
Last Updated: January 17, 2011

Project Relations

Partners

Cascade School Supplies
Hoosic River Watershed Association
Town of Clarksburg
Trout Unlimited Hoosuck Chapter

Links

MA Riverways Program project page

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