ORRINGTON – Keeping the water levels constant at the leaking Meadow Dam is crucial to maintaining wildlife in the area, state officials are telling town leaders.
Town officials are considering replacing the deteriorating dam with a new rock ramp fishway dam.
“We encourage you to consider the option that maintains current water levels in this rich and diverse wildlife habitat, while providing access for migration anadromous fish such as alewives,” R. Bradford Allen, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife bird group leader, stated in a letter given on Monday to selectmen.
The town is working with several state and federal agencies on plans to replace the failing Meadow Dam, also known as the Fields Pond Dam, which it acquired through tax liens when former operators Eastern Fine Paper Co. closed in 2004.
Town leaders would like to install a rock ramp fishway dam, proposed by local biologists, that would regulate water levels, with a hidden solid dam wall covered with brook rocks that would allow fish, including alewives and Atlantic salmon, to pass.
The Sedgeunkedunk meadow and Fields Pond, the two wetlands created by the Meadow Dam, have been designated as a moderate value wetland for waterfowl and wading birds under the Natural Resources Protection Act of 1988, Allen states in his letter.
“We believe that this wetland has an especially high value to migrating waterfowl during the spring migration, as it is among the first significant wetlands in the area to become ice-free in March,” he said. “This wetland also has considerable value for aquatic fur bearers, ospreys and bald eagles, which are all frequently observed in this area.”
Town Manager Carl Young presented the letter to selectmen and said he was excited that so many state and federal agencies already have shown interest in the local project.
“There is no doubt that any future projects at this site should and must be a coordinated effort between the town and various wildlife agencies helping to ensure that any long-term impacts on the surrounding wetlands are of a positive and sustaining nature,” he told selectmen
The goals of the town are to maintain water levels, habitat and property values, he said.