Hyde Pond Volunteer Planting Restores Banks of Mystic’s Whitford Brook
Volunteers and Officials Celebrate at Site of Former Dam
Mystic, Conn. – On Saturday, May 7, Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, hosted a celebration and volunteer event (more photos) at the site of the former Hyde Pond Dam. Project leads, neighbors, about 30 volunteers joined forces to plant native vegetation along Whitford Brook where a barrier blocked water flow and fish passage for up to 350 years.
The removal of the Hyde Pond dam began in October 2015 and wrapped up this past February. It re-opened 4.1 miles of stream habitat to migratory species and eliminated the risk of dam failure. This weekend’s native vegetation planting will further restoration goals by stabilizing the riverbank and providing food and shelter for wildlife.
“To be part of reconnecting this river after three centuries is an incredible thing,” said Gwen Macdonald, director of habitat restoration for CFE/Save the Sound. “At last the alewife, blueback herring, and American eel that are native to these waters can travel them easily again, and based on past experience, we expect to see more and more fish return each year. This abundance and the natural variations of a restored floodplain will revitalize the local ecosystem and keep neighbors afer by eliminating the hazard of dam failure and associated flooding.”
The project was supported by $551,250 in federal Hurricane Sandy recovery funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Service was awarded $167 million by the Department of the Interior for more than 70 projects to clean up and repair damaged refuges and parks; restore coastal marshes, wetlands and shorelines; connect and open waterways to improve flood control; and increase scientific understanding of how these natural areas are changing.
“We’re proud to join with CFE/Save the Sound in supporting the Hyde Pond project to strengthen natural defenses and help protect communities and wildlife against future storms,” said Lori Benoit, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“By connecting and opening waterways like the Whitford Brook here in Mystic, we can improve flood control, restore habitat for fish and wildlife and contribute to the local economy and quality of life,” continued Benoit.
In addition to USFWS and CFE/Save the Sound, the event was attended by representatives of the office of Senator Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and Groton mayor Bruce Flax.
“The removal of Hyde Pond Dam and subsequent flood mitigation efforts would not have been possible without the common commitment of volunteers, advocates and federal officials. Connecticut must continue to restore and revitalize natural resources like Hyde Pond Dam for the benefit of Connecticut residents and our children’s future,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
“The Hyde Pond dam in Mystic was obsolete – it was deteriorating and leaking, causing far more damage than good,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “Thanks to the hard work of local residents and Save the Sound, more than four miles of river have been opened up, preserving fish and wildlife and protecting Connecticut’s beautiful coastline from future devastation from storms like Superstorm Sandy.”
“With intensifying storms such as Super Storm Sandy an ever-present risk, our towns are looking at a variety of means to protect our shoreline communities, and coastal restoration is the front line,” said Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2). “The Whitford Brook Dam removal project is an important step toward restoring natural storm defenses like floodplains which are vital to our coastal protection. The added benefit of restoring these important ecosystems is that we will recover marine habitat for wildlife, and improve the scenic beauty of the landscape. I continue to look forward to seeing the outcome of this important effort by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Save the Sound.”
“The Hyde Pond Dam blocked fish migrations, degraded water quality, and aggravated flooding. With the dam gone, Whitford Brook is now a much healthier and more sustainable ecosystem,” said Robert Klee, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “Save the Sound continues to be a strong partner of our mission to restore migratory fish runs, rehabilitate degraded streams, and eliminate deteriorating, unneeded dams and we applaud its hard work on this successful project.”
Additional support has been generously provided by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, a grant program of National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Long Island Sound Study; as well as Patagonia’s World Trout Initiative.
The engineering firm on the project was Princeton Hydro, and RiverLogic Solutions performed the construction work. The dam, like thousands around Connecticut, was located on private property.
CFE/Save the Sound and USFWS also partnered on a dam removal project at Pond Lily on the New Haven/Woodbridge border. To learn more about other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Hurricane Sandy recovery and resilience projects, visit the Hurricane Sandy Recovery website.
To learn more about the Hyde Pond project, visit here.
To read the press release from the fall 2015 kick-off of the dam removal, visit here,
See a time lapse video of the dam removal process here.
See more photos of the volunteer planting here.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen in the Northeast region, visit www.fws.gov/northeast. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.