FARMINGTON – Progress is being made on the removal of Walton’s Mill Dam- a project that was widely approved by voters two years ago.
Heading up the project is the Atlantic Salmon Federation who is investing roughly $1.2 million to make area improvements and remove the historic dam. Built in 1820, the dam was deemed a barrier to the endangered Atlantic salmon by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2009. By law the town would have either needed to remove the dam completely or construct a passage for the fish to migrate through. The option of the “fish ladder” would not have included any assistance from federal or state funding, and was estimated to cost $750,000.
As it stands, the dam will cost $500,000 to remove completely and ASF has already started putting the remaining $725,000 to work on improvements to the area that will support the project. Their first project was to replace one of two culverts in the watershed; the Clover Mill Road culvert replacement was completed this week. As approved by voters, the remaining funds will be put towards park maintenance at the site of the dam- projects such as creating more parking,
wooden walkways, a public restroom, a pavilion, trail improvements and historical preservation elements, is estimated to cost $355,000 while $20,000 will be set aside for future park maintenance.
“The Town is very appreciative of the assistance that the Atlantic Salmon Federation and its partners have provided. Without their participation, none of these infrastructure improvements would be possible,” Town Manager Richard Davis said.
The Clover Mill Road culvert replacement was completed by E.L. Vining & Son who won a competitive bid for the project. The Cummings Hill Road crossing is slated to be replaced next summer. Funding sources included NOAA Community Habitat Restoration Program, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Department of Marine Resources, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Trout and Salmon Foundation, Maine Audubon, and others. The project included new guardrails for roadside protection and raising the road by about two feet to elevate the road outside the floodplain from Temple Stream. Improving road infrastructure resiliency adjacent to streams and rivers reduces long-term maintenance but also protects habitat for aquatic species.