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Magic on the River

The Sheepscot River is home to the southernmost genetically unique wild populations of Atlantic salmon remaining. Located just upstream from the tidal influence and as the gateway to the entire upper watershed, the dam in Head Tide along the Sheepscot was imperative to address for recovery potential. A dam has existed in this reach for over 250 years but finally in 2019, the Head Tide Dam was modified as a result of several years of culminating effort to restore safe and timely migratory passage. The project removed the western portion of the dam while keeping the majority of the spillway in place to comply with legal deed covenant. A viewing platform over the new opening was installed along with interpretive signage describing the ecology of the river and its rich mill history. Other improvements included a new path to the river, improved public parking, and a concrete wall to prevent erosion and protect historic mill remnants present on the site.

The project partners included the Town of Alna, Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), The Nature Conservancy, Midcoast Conservancy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. ASF worked on the final design with an engineering team led by Interfluve, Inc with assistance from Kleinschmidt Associates. Local, state, and federal permits were secured for the construction. SumCo Ecological Contracting won a competitive bid to construct the job with assistance from Verney Construction for general site assistance, West Alna Welding for the overlook, and Clear Pine Carpentry for the landscaping. . The total construction costs of the project totaled $515,000. Funding sources included NOAA Community Habitat Restoration Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Enbridge Corporation, The Nature Conservancy, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation,  Davis Conservation Foundation, Patagonia, Farnsworth Foundation, Trout and Salmon Foundation and others.

Watch a 10-minute Youtube video produced by the Midcoast Conservancy on this habitat connectivity restoration project.

This project is a part of greater initiative to restore connectivity across the Sheepscot. The broader effort includes the removal of Coopers Mills Dam in 2018 by ASF and its partners, new fish passage at the Branch Pond Mill Dam in China in 2022, and additional fish passage projects along the Sheepscot to fully restore all 12 species of migratory fish that are still present in the watershed.

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