Frank J. Heller | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Frank J. Heller 
Member since Aug 14, 2014



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Re: “A Fish Story: The Battle to Remove Swanton Dam

We have the same group of dam removers in Maine and with the debate going public more and more value is being added to the impounded water behind a weir....drought protection, alternative fishery, sedimentation basin, flood mitigation, watershed sustainance, and sheer recreation for children and others.

Add them up and you have many more reasons to retain the weir; esp. when you consider the value of the impounded habitat to low income people who can fish for their families free with no government intervention.

Walleyes and sturgeon are not considered food fish....bony and bottom feeders who prefer a muddy pond bottom, not a rocky one washed clean of sediment; but perch and bass are and easily caught. It used to be the 'native' salmon that were the 'poster child' for removing dams; but that dream has faded as they failed to return in measurable numbers.

The dam removers weave fantasies of returning waves of sea run fish; unfortunately the reality is that they are not returning. This winter even smelt failed to return despite (or because of?) dam removal on the Kennebec; terminating a dismal ice fishing season early. Drain the impound so rocks show and you can be assured no sturgeon will be there.

Often forgotten in these emotional pleas is the fact that migratory runs are of short duration, so it is possible to 'engineer' power plants that open the waterway to whatever migratory fish show up for a few weeks each year. Eels, alewives and a handful of other species can move up and down a well constructed fish way

Emerging technology is coming on the market which both generates electricity year round; electricity which can power up micro grids built into restored mills.

My favorite is the Archimedes screw, a slow moving ancient device that works in winter and floods; is very fish friendly; and can even be reversed to 'pump' up species like shad which 'pool' up at the base of the dam. A screw can be installed in one end of the weir in a concrete jig; making disruption of the waterway minimal. Screws can be made of recycled plastics and composites.

Power derived from falling and moving water is a New England heritage. Weirs provide far more measurable benefits than the illusions created by people seeking to remove them.

1 like, 14 dislikes
Posted by Frank J. Heller on 08/14/2014 at 8:11 AM

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