Sunday River Dam Removal

On September 5 and 6, 2013, ARWC and partners removed a remnant log driving dam on the Sunday River in Riley Township. This dam blocked brook trout movement up river to an estimated four miles of headwater streams as well as to the mainstem of the upper Sunday River itself. All of these waters have the potential to provide excellent brook trout habitat.

This removal project was a collaborative effort between ARWC, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, and Project SHARE. It was funded primarily by a grant from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, a private-public partnership dedicated to improving and enhancing brook trout habitat throughout the eastern United States. The grant is administered by the Androscoggin Valley Soil & Water Conservation District in Lewiston.

ARWC and the Mollyocket Chapter of Trout Unlimited contributed funds as well as planning assistance.

Long ago, log driving dams were built on many rivers and tributary streams in western Maine to flush logs down from the mountains. Over time, most of these dams deteriorated to the point they no longer impede fish passage.

Others washed away completely.   But the base structure of this old log driving dam on the Sunday River remained remarkably intact. It created a three to four foot drop that spanned the width of the river, blocking fish movement. The site was identified as a priority for removal during a 2011 barrier assessment in the Sunday River and Bear River Watersheds conducted by ARWC.

Partners used two grip hoists to remove the dam, which was on the Mahoosuc Unit, public land that is managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands. As the impacts of global warming worsen, access to cooler waters in high elevation streams provides important refuge for brook trout from hot summer weather.

ARWC continues to work with landowners and state agencies to plan additional barrier removal projects in the Sunday River and Bear River Watersheds that block fish passage.


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