Coastal Program

River Herring
Credit: Jones River Watershed Association

Dam Removal

In collaboration with Connecticut's Division of Inland Fisheries and The Nature Conservancy, the Coastal Program restored fish passage on the Anguilla Brook, which eventually flows into Long Island Sound, New York. The project involved the modification of one dam to allow for fish passage, and the removal of another dam. The project reopened 13 river miles and 51 acres of wetlands, which restored the river herring’s entire historic spawning range.

River herring is an anadromous fish that spends most of its life at sea, but returns to freshwater streams to breed. Historically, river herring were an important fishery, well established even before the American Revolution. River herring are also ecologically important as a food source for ospreys, herons, Bald eagles, River otters, Striped bass, Tuna, and whales. Since the 1960’s, herring populations have continued to significantly decline due to overharvesting and loss of spawning habitat. The potential for the river herring be lost forever underscores the importance of habitat restoration and commercial fisheries management.

Excavator dismantling the dam.
Credit: Suzanne Paton, USFWS