Monday, November 28, 2016

RiverKeeper Blog: Rattlesnake Brook Dam removed in Freetown

By Rachel Calabro, Save The Bay RiverKeeper

The Taunton River watershed is becoming more fish friendly as another dam is removed in an effort to increase habitat. The Rattlesnake Brook Dam, owned by the Fall River water department, is being removed this month to help fish access habitats cut off for almost 200 years. The dam had partially failed and was unsafe in its former condition. Rattlesnake Brook is part of the Assonet River watershed, which drains into the Taunton River just north of Fall River. Assonet Bay has some of the healthiest salt marshes in the Narragansett Bay watershed and is home to threatened diamondback terrapins.

Dam removal is becoming commonplace in Massachusetts as a way to eliminate flooding risk and to restore free flowing rivers. This project is the 44th dam removal to take place in the state. Three more dam removal projects are planned for next year in the Taunton River watershed, and other dams are in study. The Taunton River was designated as a Wild & Scenic River in part because of its large and healthy fish run. The migratory river herring run is the largest in the state and will increase as other rivers are opened up for spawning. American eel, white perch and shad are also benefitting from these projects.

Save The Bay has been supporting these projects as a partner for many years. We provide outreach and community support to get projects started, and technical support as they move through design. Habitat restoration in the Taunton River watershed is one of our long term strategic goals. Rivers that are free flowing and connected are better able to support wildlife and are more resilient to changes in climate. We look forward to supporting more projects in the coming years.