As of October 1st, the health and function of North Breton Brook in Castleton has been remarkably improved through the removal of the Pelletier Dam off East Hubbardton Road. The dam, along with 15,000 cubic yards of sediment, was removed from the stream bed, reconnecting the river to its natural path and flow.
The Pelletier Dam was derelict, which means it had not been used for its original purpose as a marble mill in decades. The State of Vermont Fish and Wildlife acquired the dam after the mill closed and recognized the benefits of removing the dam. Dams are a barrier to the passage of the river and aquatic life; they obstruct fish and other animals from traveling the river, block nutrients from feeding plants downstream, warm the temperature of the stream by creating a pond behind the dam which reduces cold water habitat for fish, elevate the water which can increase flood levels, and become a public safety and infrastructure concern for public access at the river and potential damage to homes, roads, and utilities if the dam fails on its own.
The removal of the dam has opened approximately 37 miles of wild trout habitat. For the first time in over 200 years, trout will be able to move freely up and downstream, reconnecting populations and expanding habitat. The removal of the dam also restores about 3000 feet of riparian floodplain and habitat that were previously buried under the pond. This riparian area will act as a sponge, soaking up rain during flood events and improving flood resiliency.
Now that the dam and sediment have been removed, the stream bank and surrounding floodplain area will be planted with native trees and shrubs. To RSVP for the tree planting event on Oct. 31 (organized by VNRC) and to see photos of the dam before, during, and after removal, please see this link.
Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) spearheaded this effort. Funding for design, permitting, and construction has been provided by NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service through the National Fish Passage Program, VNRC, The Nature Conservancy, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District.
P.S. Got plans on Halloween? Come plant trees along the river! More details here.