If You Remove It They Will Come – Restoring Amethyst Brook, MA


If You Remove It They Will Come – Restoring Amethyst Brook, MA

Free flowing Amethyst Brook after dam removal | © Stantec Consulting

Free flowing Amethyst Brook after dam removal | © Stantec Consulting

Just six month after the removal of Bartlett Rod Shop Dam on the Amethyst Brook in Pelham, Mass., our project partners found native migratory sea lamprey spawning in the restored reach below the dam removal site.

Previously, the river in the area consisted of large boulders, too big for the lamprey to move for spawning. With clean sediment released during the dam removal, the river now has gravel and cobble appropriate for native sea lamprey spawning. These sea lamprey are native to the Connecticut River watershed and are a great sign of improving conditions in the river.

Check out this video of the sea lamprey in a restored reach of the river | © Stantec Consulting

With American Rivers’ help, the Bartlett Rod Shop Company  was removed in October 2012, reconnecting Amethyst Brook upstream of the dam site with more than 250 miles of downstream habitat for brook trout, American eel, and sea lamprey. Further upriver remains the Orient Springs Dam. American Rivers is currently working with the dam owners to study the feasibility of removing the Orient Spring Dam, however no decision has been made yet.  

Front and side views of Bartlett Rod Shop Dam before removal | © Stantec Consulting

Front and side views of Bartlett Rod Shop Dam before removal | MA Division of Ecological Restoration

The return of native fish after a dam has been removed isn’t unique to Amethyst Brook. Earlier this year river herring were spotted above the previous site of the Hopewell Mills dam for the first time in 200 years! On the West Coast we are now witnessing the return of  salmon and steelhead above the Elwha Dam site in Washington for the first time in over 100 years.

With the removal of outdated and harmful dams, American Rivers is working to restore free flowing rivers to create safer recreational environments for future generations and healthy habitats for the fish and wildlife that depend on these rivers.