Fish ladder planned for Coleman Pond
Lincolnville — Plans to re-purpose the remains of a crumbling dam and construct a fish passage at the Coleman Pond discharge to Alexander Brook and Ducktrap River could be underway as early as fall 2012 according to Lincolnville Town Administrator David Kinney.
Coleman Pond is part of the Ducktrap River watershed which is a known habitat for native sea run Atlantic Salmon. Kinney said the tributary to Coleman Pond has been challenging for successful fish passage because the stream bed narrows and the current increases in velocity at the site where the remains of a dam and foundation are still present. Kinney described the vestiges of the dam as two- to three-feet tall and mostly debris.
"It certainly was a rock dam once," he added. Plans would use stones remaining from the dam to construct a fish ladder and assist in slowing the flow of the current, he said.
John Burrows, Director of New England Programs for the Atlantic Salmon Federation, said the Ducktrap River Watershed is "critical habitat" for salmon. He said the modified fish passage would assist "all fish species" including Atlantic salmon, brook trout and "primarily alewives." Burrows said the goal of creating a fish passage is to assist with the restoration of fish species that co-evolved with Atlantic Salmon.
Burrows said the majority of funding for the Coleman Pond fish passage project is coming from NOAA Restoration Center and Atlantic Salmon Federation hired Klienschmidt USA to handle the design, permitting and engineering work.
Burrows said his organization has completed "well over a dozen" fish passage projects in Maine. He said alewives spawn in fresh water. After maturing in a fresh water environment, alewives depart and typically return between 3 and 5 years later to spawn He said in excess of 95 percent of mature alewives return to the specific fresh water site where they were spawned. He explained the fish returning from the sea into fresh water provide "marine drive nutrients" that are valuable to fresh water environments.
"Pretty much anything will eat an alewive," he said, noting the fish provide a good food source for a broad range of animals.
Kinney said Lincolnville Code Enforcement Officer Frank Therio first got word of the fish passage plan in June 2012. He said representatives from the DEP, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Army Corp of Engineers and the town of Lincolnville convened for an on-site, pre-application meeting. Burrows said his organization began looking at the Coleman Pond site in spring 2012.
Whitney Oppersdorff of the Coleman Pond Association said there is historical precedent for discussion of a fish passage at Coleman Pond. She said the Coleman Pond Association unanimously approved the proposed project.
"The Coleman Pond Association is delighted that this is going to happen," she said.
Burrows said in addition to restoring access to natural fish habitat, the creation of the fish passage would involve removing debris where an existing dam and foundation have "collapsed" into the water creating both a "habitat and public safety issue" at the site.
Burrows explained the fish ladder will look more natural than traditional fish ladders. He likened it to a "natural waterfall" that will be comprised of a series of "small weirs." He said the design of the fish passage will maintain the water level in Coleman Pond while allowing the fish to climb up about five feet at a time. He said the final design has not been finalized; though construction is slated for fall 2012 or spring 2013.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at email@example.com.