Another approach to the Mill Pond dam
To the Editor:
The town of West Tisbury is currently investigating what should be done at the site of the town-owned Mill Pond, the last of seven manmade impoundments in the Mill Brook before it empties into Town Cove of Tisbury Great Pond less than a half mile to the south.
In the spring of 2010, the selectmen appointed a volunteer committee to investigate management options for the "long-term preservation" of the Mill Pond. At the annual town meeting in April of 2010, voters approved an expenditure of $25,000 to allow the Mill Pond Committee (MPC) to hire a consultant to evaluate and prioritize a number of management options. At their public meeting on Wednesday, January 18, at 7 pm, the MPC and their consultant will present those options to the public.
What will not be included in that slate of options is that of removing the spillway boards which contain the pond, and restoring the native stream habitat to improve connectivity and water quality for our native fish, including herring and native sea-run brook trout. In an effort to learn more about dam removal projects in the state, I contacted Beth Lambert at the Division of Ecological Restoration. She came here in November of 2010 to give a presentation of dam removal/stream restoration projects that her office had completed throughout the state, showing us how other communities across the Commonwealth have chosen to deal with their obsolete dams and manmade impoundments. We had a standing room only crowd at the West Tisbury Library, with lots of questions and discussion afterwards.
Since then, I have spoken with many people who are involved in stream restoration projects, and all roads led me to Michael Hopper. Michael is president of the Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition, a nonprofit group dedicated to restoring habitat for sea-run brook trout, throughout the Northeast. Michael grew up in Wellfleet and was an early and avid reader of our own Nelson Bryant's "Outdoors" column in the New York Times, particularly Nelson's essays about catching brook trout in the Mill Brook.
Michael will give a presentation at the West Tisbury Library this Saturday, January 21, at 3:30 pm. His subject will be several restoration projects that his group has been involved with, the extremely beneficial results that restoration actions have had on native brook trout populations, and the significant funding that is available for projects like these.
I encourage people to come to both of these meetings, ask questions, and get informed.