TREMONT — The Tremont Select Board decided at its meeting on March 21 to move forward with an opportunity to help preserve local river herring habitat.
For five years, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) has been working with the community to restore the river herring passage to Seal Cove Pond. Over time, the town of Tremont, Acadia National Park, other partners and community members who wanted to preserve alewives and blueback herring joined the effort.
Since 2017, the project has involved three annual fish counts, a feasibility study, alewife stocking and plans for fishways at the locations of the current and former dams.
Construction of a man-made fishway at the location of the former dam – the first hurdle that alewives confront on their journey upstream to Seal Cove Pond – was a goal MCHT had for fall of 2021. This project was approved and financed after the town voted last year to manage its river herring rights, but heavy rain had prevented the planned construction work that spring. A construction company was able to reschedule the work for the beginning of the 2022 season.
MCHT’s Misha Mytar also reported upstream fish passage issues at the current location of the dam last summer, which were suggested to be addressed in a second phase. However, the contractors now have the potential to address both areas in one field season, which would provide a quick, cost-efficient solution to restore fish passage to the pond. To save $20,000, Mytar suggested the town accept the nature-like fishway construction at both sites in 2022. If approved, MCHT would search for more permits, complete funding and finish the construction contract to start in July.
After Mytar presented project information, the Select Board voted to authorize MCHT to proceed with plans for construction of nature-like fishways at both sites this year.
Mytar said that both site’s latest design documents are now available at the town office. A public informational meeting with the project’s engineer is also being planned by MCHT.