Dam Removals as Part of Waterway Conservancy | Connecting Point | Jan. 7, 2019


>>CONSERVING THE LANDS AND
WATERWAYS SO THAT PLANTS AND ANIMALS CAN THRIVE IN THEIR
NATURAL HABITAT IS THE PRIME OBJECTIVE FOR MOST WATERSHED
ASSOCIATIONS AND RIVER GROUPS. DAM REMOVALS ARE QUITE OFTEN THE
MEANS TO ACHIEVE THESE ENDS, BUT THAT PROCESS USUALLY TAKES A
CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF TIME AND FUNDRAISING – WITH THE EMPHASIS
ON THE LATTER. FOR THE NATURE CONSERVANCY, THEY
ACTUALLY HAVE A DAM ON ONE OF THEIR PROPERTIES THAT WON’T
REQUIRE MUCH OF EITHER AND COULD BE REMOVED BEFORE THE NEW YEAR
IS OUT. CONNECTING POINT’S BRIAN
SULLIVAN TRAVELED TO THE FARTHEST SOUTHWEST CORNER OF
MASSACHUSETTS TO BRING US THIS STORY.>>THIS DAM IN HOLYOKE IS JUST
ONE OF OVER 3,000 LOCATED IN THE COMMONWEALTH. SINCE 1902, IT’S BEEN ONE OF THE
LONGEST STANDING DAMS IN THE COUNTRY AND STILL SERVES AS A
MAJOR COG IN MAJOR GAS IN HOLIAC, AND LIKE THIS ONE IN
CHICOPEE FALLS OR INDIAN ORCHARD GENERATING HYDROELECTRIC POWER
THERE’S MANY ACROSS THE STATE WHOSE ORIGINAL PURPOSE IS A
THING OF THE PAST. WHILE THEY’RE NICE TO LOOK AT
THE TRUTH IS IT CAN BE A HINDRANCE ON THE HEALTH OF A
ECOSYSTEM WHICH IS LIKE AN ORGANIZATION LIKE THE NATURE
CONSERVE SI WILL STEP IN TO CREATE THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE. LIKE TEARING THE DAM HERE LIKE
THEY DID IN LEEDS. THE LATEST STRUCTURE TO BE ADDED
IN THE CHOPPING BOOK COULD BE IN MOUNT WASHINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS
ON THIS TRACT OF LAND THAT THE NATURE CONSERVE SI PURCHASED IN
1999. THE DAM AT BECCA POND IS JUST
ONE OF 45 ECOLOGICAL SITES AS A PRIORITY SITES. BUT GETTING THERE, WELL, THAT
TAKES A LITTLE BIT OF DOING. TO SAY THIS LOCATION IS REMOTE
IS A BIT OF AN UNDERSTATEMENT. SOME FOLKS MIGHT BE WONDERING
HOW THIS DAM WAS GIVEN PRIORITY TAU BY THE STATE WHEN IT’S IN A
TOWN THAT HAS FEWER THAN 200 PEOPLE LIVING IN IT. I WONDERED THE SAME THING
MYSELF. ONE REASON MIGHT BE THE PRICE
TAG. WHILE SOME REMOVALS CAN COST IN
THE MAIN LANES THIS ONE HERE COMES JUST UNDER 100,000 BUT
THAT PRICE HAS MORE TO DO THAT NO LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS ON
THE PROCESS IT’S ON THE ECOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE.>>THIS IS A DAM THAT WE’RE
PLANNING TO REMOVE BECAUSE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS. THIS IS A COLD WATER STREAM. THE FACT THAT IT’S ACTUALLY IN A
MORE REMOTE AREA IS PART OF THE REASON THAT IT’S A PRIORITY FOR
ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION SO BY REMOVING THIS DAM WE’RE GOING TO
RECONNECT UPSTREAM AND DOWN STRAM HABITAT FOR SPECIES LIKE
BROOK TROUT WHICH LIKE COLD, CLEAN WATER. ALSO REMOVING THE DAM, WE’RE
GETTING RID OF THAT WARM WATER IMPOUNDMENT SO WE’RE RESTORING
THE HABITAT FOR SPECIES THAT LIKE THAT TYPE OF STREAM.>>DAMS IN THE STATE FALL INTO 3
CATEGORIES: HIGH, SIGNIFICANT OR LOW HAZARD DEPENDING ON ITS
POTENTIAL FAILURE COULD IMPACT FUTURE LIFE AND PROPERTY. BECCA POND DOESN’T LAND IN ANY
OF THESE HEADINGS. IT’S A DOLLAR AND CAN SAY FOR
THE NATURE CONSERVE SI LIVING UP TO THE BIODIVERSITY, PLANTS AND
ANIMALS.>>THE DAM HAS A BIG CRACK IN
WHAT’S CALLED THE RETAINING WALLS WHICH IS THE WALLS WHERE
IT’S COMING DOWN AS IT’S CROSSING THE DAM. THERE’S A BRIDGE ACROSS THE DAM
WHICH PEOPLE USE TO WALK ACROSS IT. WELL, AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THESE
PICTURES THE BRIDGE IS KIND OF ASKEW. IT’S NOT SAFE TO WALK ON AND
SOON IT’S GOING TO FALL IN AND THE WALLS WILL BREAK AND FALL
INTO THE STREAM. IF WE WERE TO KEEP THE DAM WE
WOULD HAVE TO FIX IT AND MAINTAIN IT AND THAT’S VERY
COSTLY.>>THE CONVERSION FROM DAM TO A
FREE-FLOWING RIVER SYSTEM IS A MEANS FOR THE CONSERVE SI TO
COMBAT THE CLIMATE CHANGE. COLD WATER FISH WHICH ARE
INDICATORS MAY BE RELEGATED TO ONE SMALL AREA DUE TO THE
IMPOUNDMENTS. THE DAM REMOVAL AT BECCA POND
WILL ENHANCE THE FISH AND THEIR SURROUNDINGS.>>WHAT WE WANT TO CREATE
CONNECTED HABITAT WHEN WE HAVE CONNECTED COLD WATER SYSTEMS THE
FISH WITHIN THAT SYSTEM CAN MOVE TO SEEK REFUGE FROM HOT WEATHER
OR HIGH FLOWS AND SO IT’S REALLY THE CONNECTED NETWORK THAT WE’RE
LOOKING FOR.>>THAT CONNECTIVITY EVENTUALLY
INCLUDES THE THIS RIVER. BUT AS FAR AS DAMS ARE CONCERNED
ON A PERSONAL LEVEL I’VE ALWAYS BEEN FASCINATED BY THE BEAUTY OF
THE COMBINATION OF HUMAN-MADE AND NATURE-MADE. THERE’S JUST SOMETHING EXTREMELY
NEW ENGLAND ABOUT WATERFALLS AND THE GIANT GRANITE STRUCTURES
THAT THEY SPILL OVER AND MOST IF NOT ALL OF THEM HAVE BEEN AROUND
FOR SO LONG THAT THEY’RE THE ONLY LANDSCAPE THAT MEMBERS OF
THE COMMUNITIES IN WHICH THEY RESIDE HAVE EVER KNOWN. TAKING THEM AWAY BECAUSE THEY
DON’T SERVE A PURPOSE ANYMORE CAN BE A BITTER PILL FOR THOSE
US WHO FIND SOLAS AND SOUND IN THEIR PRESENCE.>>A DAM’S USEFULNESS DEPENDS
WHO YOU ASK THE QUESTION FOR. THE MISSION IS TO PROTECT
BIODIVERSITY, PLANTS AND ANIMALS. THIS DOES NOT HELP OUR PURPOSE. IF WE WERE LANDOWNERS WHO USE
THE POND FOR SWIMMING AND ICE SKATING AND THOSE KINDS OF
THINGS WE MIGHT DECIDE IT’S STILL USEFUL AND FIX IT BUT
THAT’S NOT OUR MISSION. ?

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