2016-04-15 / Letters

Goff Mill Brook dam was done with due diligence

To the editor:

It is not my custom to respond to individuals who write letters to the editor on topics that concern them, as I am a believer in letting people express their opinions, even when I may disagree. However, the letter from Judy and John Andrews in the April 1 edition of the Kennebunk Post regarding the Goff Mill Brook dam removal contained numerous inaccuracies and omitted a great deal of information about the project. Thus, as the director of Wells Reserve at Laudholm, which managed the project, I believe I need to respond.

I would like to provide some background information on the project, the level of due diligence we completed to get the project under way, and what the Wells Reserve is doing now and will do over the next couple of years post-dam removal.

Goff Mill Brook is a tributary of the Kennebunk River. Built by a family some 50 years ago, this concrete dam was privately owned and in a state of disrepair. Wells Reserve worked with this property owner on its demolition and the return of natural stream flow to the river.

As it was private property, the dam could not have been removed without the full approval and agreement of the landowners, who own an extensive 2,600 feet of frontage on Goff Mill Brook at and upstream from the now-former dam site.

Even though the dam was small in size, the project required a significant amount of due diligence, as well as approval from all agencies and organizations dedicated to the protection of fish and wildlife in the state of Maine. Wells Reserve and the landowners sought opinions about the dam’s removal, and subsequently received strong support, from the two state of Maine wildlife agencies (Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources), key national wildlife entities (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation), and nonprofit organizations (The Nature Conservancy, Audubon and Trout Unlimited).

We applied for and secured municipal, state, and federal permits before we removed the dam last September.

As part of this project, we are monitoring and documenting the changes to the river over the next couple of years, including water levels, salinities, fisheries, and revegetation of the stream bank – a common practice for us when we work with landowners, towns, and organizations on habitat conservation and restoration projects in southern Maine.

Wells Reserve staff have already been back many times since the dam was removed last September to observe the river and its wildlife.

We have seen no negative impacts to wildlife in that time. We also work closely and communicate regularly with Sgt. Tim Spahr of the Maine Warden Service – the legal guardian of the state’s fish and wildlife and the habitats upon which all species depend. Just before I composed this letter, I had a conversation with Spahr and he communicated that his observations validate ours.

We will continue to work with Spahr and representatives from other wildlife agencies and organizations over the next couple of years on Goff Mill Brook, observing and documenting the changes that will result from the removal of this small dam.

Paul Dest, director
Wells National Estuarine
Research Reserve

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