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PRESS RELEASE- Hoosic River Receives Priority Status: Restoration of the North Branch to be Examined
February 14, 2007

Pittsfield - Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) announced today that The Riverways Program of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, (Riverways) has awarded priority status to restoring the North Branch of the Hoosic River in Clarksburg. Through a competitive application process for its Priority Project awards, Riverways identifies and selects river restoration projects and establishes partnerships with local project proponents to implement these projects. The North Branch of the Hoosic River is one of two projects selected for 2007. 

 

“The first step to improving our local riverways is to assess their current status and examine suitable approaches.  Partnership with the Commonwealth’s Riverways Program will provide expertise and assistance that otherwise would not be available,” said Downing.

 

The Hoosuck Trout Unlimited chapter is the lead proponent to restore the North Branch of the Hoosic River. This habitat restoration project will examine the feasibility of removing the Hewat Dam to improve habitat for trout and other coldwater species. Hewat Dam is owned by Cascade School Supplies of North Adams. Riverways works with engineering and habitat specialists to assess habitat restoration approaches and will carefully consider public safety and infrastructure protection when considering alternatives. Restoring the North Branch Hoosic will provide improved fishing opportunities and the aesthetics of a healthy free-flowing river.

 

Currently a dozen restoration projects are on Riverways’ Priority Project list statewide. In Berkshire County the Mill Street Dam in Pittsfield is being considered for removal to restore the impaired West Branch of the Housatonic River. In Adams, Riverways is partnering with the Town to restore Hoxie Brook and portions of the Hoosic River. Recently Riverways together with the Town of Becket and multiple partners restored Yokum Brook by removing two obsolete dams.

 

Restoration of the headwaters of the North Branch of the Hoosic provides an important opportunity for the continuity of habitat for species of concern. Dams block the movement and migration of fish and impairing water quality by trapping sediment and artificially warming water temperatures. Hundreds of dams have been removed around the country to restore habitat, eliminate owner expense and liability, and improve public safety.

 

Joe Overlock, local Trout Unlimited chapter president, is extremely excited about the project being selected, “This is a once in a lifetime chance to restore the natural beauty of the river while creating tremendous angling opportunities for local residents. This is a shot in the arm for the newly re-formed Hoosuck TU Chapter,” said Overlock.

 

Selected projects are placed on the priority list and will become eligible to receive technical assistance from Riverways staff; technical services by consultants selected through Riverways’ competitive processes funded by the Commonwealth; and/or direct funding for implementation.

 

In Clarksburg the first step will be to commission a feasibility study and establish a technical advisory committee to assess specific project challenges and approaches.

 

Joan Kimball, Director of the Riverways Program, stated, “We are excited to work with Trout Unlimited, Cascade School Supplies, and the Clarksburg community to restore the natural character of the North Branch of the Hoosic. We believe the restoration will provide an amenity for the community.”

 

The Massachusetts Riverways Program is dedicated to protecting and restoring the Commonwealth’s rivers and adjacent lands. 

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