Dam Removal in Pittsfield


the dam removal here at this site is
critically important to the city not only from an ecological perspective and
environmental perspective but from a community perspective as well we’ve been working closely with the state for a better part of a decade now on this
project it’s one where I think we see the finish line on the horizon. It’s pretty weird owning a dam actually and I don’t have
any friends who own dams I think that were the only guys I know who own a dam
I remember when we were a kid going to look at it and being in awe of the power of the water
going over it. It is a very active section of the river here and you can
understand why at one point it was a really valued resource for industry here.
The West Branch of the Housatonic River historically had been very important for
manufacturing in the city. Of course the need for water power generation in these
mill buildings has long since passed dams are now just old relics in the
ecosystem they serve no useful purpose and in fact they’re harming the river
with each passing day. You know the ecosystem is compromised. I grew up in Pittsfield back when the Housatonic River was heavily polluted.
The really big shift was the Clean Water Act that stopped all the sewage from all
the paper mills going into the river and stopped all the oil and gas going into
the river which I think is the major thing that allowed wildlife to come back
to it. We’ve been involved in in the river cleanups
and helped haul you know hundreds of pounds of junk out of this thing. It’s actually
a really pretty river it’s an amazing thing to have running through here and
we’re really excited to be part of this process. We recognize that these dams had a very valuable role in Pittsfield past but now we’re sort of turning the page
on a new history one that respects and response to environmental concerns. I
think it became more prevalent to our lives when the discussion started about
removing it then it became like okay this is a project that could happen. The
dam is a hundred years old at some point you would have to
replace it or take it down anyway it’s not something that’s gonna be here for
another hundred years no matter how you feel about it. This sort of area where
you’ve got great tree cover and the water is cooler and really supports a
diverse community of life isn’t what people get to see instead they see the
area more above the dam up to the bridge where it’s surf backed up and sluggish
and really not so attractive. There’s an unhealthy draw to the dam and there’s a
trestle and it’s looming over it like this big iron cloud and it’s not a
productive positive piece of Pittsfield now it’s the opposite it’s dangerous people
have gotten hurt there it’s an urgent thing for Pittsfieldto turn this area
into something more productive. A few years ago there was a gentleman who lost
his life he was swimming here and that ended tragically this is a dark hidden
spot in our city it’s one that we need to shine a light on. We need to remove
the public nuisance that is this failing dam. It seems to me it’s inevitable that
it comes down and the sooner the better. More and more people are getting back to
the river there certainly is more canoeing there’s now a canoe launch on
the West Branch from mokona stadium you can canoe on down. I’m really looking
forward to having this dam removed and envision a great floodplain forest on
either side. I think it’s gonna be great.

6 thoughts on “Dam Removal in Pittsfield

  1. I hope they will also remove non-native plants along the site, like Iris pseudacorus shown in the video.

  2. Hope this happens on the Assabet River someday. The free flowing stretches are quite nice and canoeable, the impoundments pretty icky.

  3. My big question is, why does it take so long to get approval to remove what is obviously a bad thing? 10 years to get the go ahead???

  4. you have too look at these dams from a safety point. if someone drowns and sues the city it will cost more in the payout than it would have if they had just taken it down.

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