The town of Washburn and the Maine D.E.P. are moving forward with the removal of the mill pond dam and berm after final funding came in last week. On Wednesday, all agencies involved with the project met to make sure they’re all on the same page.
Nick Archer, Regional Director of the Northern Maine Office of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection says, “I don’t think there are many people that would disagree that the way it was was the way it should be.”
Historically, Atlantic salmon had access to this part of Salmon Brook – but that was back in the 1800s. Taking out the berm and dam will open up 19-20 miles of free flowing water for both Atlantic salmon and brook trout, which can be used for spawning in the fall and refuge in the summer.
Frank Frost, Regional Fisheries Biologist says, “trout move a tremendous amount. Miles and miles in the course of a year, and this just provides more habitat for them to complete their life cycle.”
Randall Spencer of the Maine Department of Marine Resources says, “one of the key components of restoring and recovering these populations is habitat enhancement and protection and this project will go a long way to accomplish that.”
Agencies at Wednesday’s meeting included the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, members of the D.E.P oil response team, and Washburn town council chairman Keith Brown who says that area hasn’t been of much use to the town in years and keeping it the way it is would mean a liability to taxpayers.
Brown says, “Sometimes change is tough but I think this is a good development for the community and it will end up making a better town in the long run.”
Brown adds that in the coming years, they plan to build a park around the stream. Work on the project will start February 18th weather permitting and is expected to take approximately 5 weeks.