Mill Pond doesn’t have to stay this way


To the Editor:

The voters of West Tisbury will get to decide whether to approve the Mill Pond committee’s Article 13 on the warrant for annual town meeting, Tuesday, April 10, starting at 7 pm, in the West Tisbury School gymnasium. The Mill Pond committee would like to pursue grant funding for a dredging project at the Mill Pond, owned by the town.

Dam removal, and the successful experience of other communities which benefitted from improved fisheries, wildlife habitat, and water quality was the subject of two workshops presented here recently by experts Beth Lambert and Michael Hopper. DVDs of those presentations are available from the West Tisbury Library, and online at (click on “recent updates”).

I am a member of the West Tisbury conservation commission, but the views expressed in this letter are my own, as a citizen, and not necessarily those of the conservation commission.

Driving home past the Mill Pond one evening last week, I came upon a scene which perfectly illustrates the difference between what currently exists at the site of the Mill Pond, and what is possible. The state fisheries officials had come earlier that day to stock non-native trout, which arrive here by truck via ferry boat ride from the state hatchery in Sandwich. Several kids were fishing around the edge of the pond, dusk was falling, the pinkletinks were singing.

It struck me as very strange that we have all come to accept this scene as somehow the true rite of spring. Instead of river herring making their unimpeded way up the Mill Brook to spawn when the shadbush is blooming and pinkletinks singing; instead of our native trout making their way down to Tisbury Great Pond to feed and fatten up before coming back up the brook to spawn, we settle for a truck showing up once every spring to dump in a few farm-raised fish which will not survive in the warm waters of the dammed Mill Pond. What is wrong with this picture?

Imagine a future where the 2.5 acres currently covered by the waters of the impounded Mill Pond are now a town park, with native wetland plants, habitat for our native birds and animals, several benches providing shady resting spots for bikers and hikers off of the busy Edgartown Road (habitat for us), and running through it all are the cool, clear flowing waters of the Mill Brook, with scattered small openings near the brook from which our young anglers (and Hollis, Buddy and Jeff B) catch native trout.

Just because it “has always been that way,” doesn’t mean that it has to, or should, stay that way. The changes that we brought about on the Mill Brook with the installation of these dams were of benefit only to ourselves, not to the ecosystem. We now have the chance to make a decision that extends beyond our own personal aesthetic, one which will result in multiple benefits for the lower Mill Brook ecosystem.

That is why I am going to vote no on Article 13.

Prudy Burt

West Tisbury